The Revolutionary War spanned from 1775 to 1783. This is the war that the new founded 13 American colonies fought to gain their independence from Great Britain. We’ve all studied this in history class and have cheered the story of Paul Revere’s midnight warning that “the British are coming.” In the end, the enemy was defeated and the United States was recognized as an independent nation. We all know about the enemy in this war, Great Britain, but there was another enemy from within.
“At the start of the American War of Independence, Benedict Arnold was an American hero, a brilliant general who fought bravely in several tough battles. By the end of the war, he was commanding British troops against his former forces, a general on the losing side who has gone down in history as a “turncoat” and a traitor. Embittered by what he saw as a lack of recognition of his military genius, Arnold offered West Point to the British in return for 20,000 pounds and proceeded to systematically weaken the defenses of the strategic fort overlooking the Hudson River in New York state. But his plot quickly unraveled and Arnold’s contact with the British army, Maj. John Andre, was captured by American forces and hanged. Arnold escaped to a British frigate and although the British never really trusted him, he was given command of British troops. After the war, he and his wife went to England, where he died, the most famous traitor in American history.” – ABC News (http://abcnews.go.com/International/story?id=79400&page=2)
Benedict Arnold not only betrayed his country, he betrayed family and friends including those under his command who trusted him with their lives.
As is true with American history, the path to success often runs directly through opposition.
The greatest achievements of history are fraught with opposition. Sometimes the challenges are natural, like the many failed attempts of inventors on their way to a successful creation. At other times, your enemies will try to stop progress. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is a great example there. These difficulties are to be expected, but there are times when opposition is more personal. At times, the people we have built relationships with are the very ones who step out against us. We call this “betrayal” and it hurts.
There are times in life when circumstances or people show up to speak into our life and help us get back on track. We have a loving God who is willing to offend us if that’s what it takes to open our eyes. But there are other times, when the goal is good or even great, that people seek to hold us back. Sometimes, the people we trust most are the very ones who turn against us.
This is usually the time in our lessons where I would share a personal story, but stories of betrayal go deep and are likely matters of practical privacy. Most of you have stories of your own. You understand the hurts of personal betrayal all too well. But there is some good news about betrayal – your path to success runs directly through opposition.
One of the many great things about the Christian faith is that we have a leader who is more than a king. Our leader, Jesus, actually came to earth and modeled the way as a man. He, too, faced betrayal. Luke tells us this story in chapter 22 of his book. Just as is true for us, the path Jesus walked on his way to the ultimate success over death and sin headed straight through betrayal.
Let’s begin reading in verse 1:
Now the Festival of Unleavened Bread, called the Passover, was approaching, and the chief priests and the teachers of the law were looking for some way to get rid of Jesus, for they were afraid of the people. Then Satan entered Judas, called Iscariot, one of the Twelve. And Judas went to the chief priests and the officers of the temple guard and discussed with them how he might betray Jesus. They were delighted and agreed to give him money. He consented and watched for an opportunity to hand Jesus over to them when no crowd was present.
Being God, Jesus knew what was going to happen. He made this clear during dinner that night, known as The Last Supper. He also knew that his friend, Peter, was going to deny knowing him. After supper, Jesus went out with his friends, the disciples, to pray. Our story picks back up in verse 47 while Jesus is talking with a few of his friends:
While he was still speaking a crowd came up, and the man who was called Judas, one of the Twelve, was leading them. He approached Jesus to kiss him, but Jesus asked him, “Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?”
When Jesus’ followers saw what was going to happen, they said, “Lord, should we strike with our swords?” And one of them struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his right ear.
But Jesus answered, “No more of this!” And he touched the man’s ear and healed him.
Then Jesus said to the chief priests, the officers of the temple guard, and the elders, who had come for him, “Am I leading a rebellion, that you have come with swords and clubs? Every day I was with you in the temple courts, and you did not lay a hand on me. But this is your hour—when darkness reigns.”
Then seizing him, they led him away and took him into the house of the high priest. Peter followed at a distance. And when some there had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and had sat down together, Peter sat down with them. A servant girl saw him seated there in the firelight. She looked closely at him and said, “This man was with him.”
But he denied it. “Woman, I don’t know him,” he said.
A little later someone else saw him and said, “You also are one of them.”
“Man, I am not!” Peter replied.
About an hour later another asserted, “Certainly this fellow was with him, for he is a Galilean.”
Peter replied, “Man, I don’t know what you’re talking about!” Just as he was speaking, the rooster crowed. The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter.
Jesus understood that the path to success runs directly through opposition.
There is a great application here for all of us. While betrayal is never part of our plans, it can most definitely be found along the path to success. You should always be willing to pause in the face of opposition to seek God and wise counsel helping to ensure that your desired destination is good and worthy of your calling. Once that is settled, know that challenges will come. Satan does not want you to achieve your dreams. Satan does not want you to fulfill your calling. Satan desires to deter you at every opportunity from living life well. When you are headed toward whatever great things, big or small, are set before you, know that opposition is in store. At some point along the way, betrayal may come. Follow the model set by Jesus and embrace this with an open heart.
The good news of betrayal is that oftentimes, betrayal can help to confirm your dreams. History tells us that the greater our goal, the stronger the opposition. Your path to success runs directly through this opposition.