A while ago, I felt like I was betrayed by a friend. This was someone who I had worked closely with. We had collaborated together, dreamed together, and made hard decisions together. We trusted each other and had each other’s backs. And then when life and ministry got hard, he quit.

Betrayal, abandonment, disloyalty. Whatever you call it, it stings. I expect to be hurt and attacked by those who oppose me, but those I trust? I’ll take stinging letters, slander, and hurtful comments in stride, but when my friends turn on me, it’s pretty hard to take.

But then I remember that Jesus was betrayed. For three years he journeyed with these 12 men. They had been slandered, gossiped about, opposed and rejected by everyone in authority. I’m sure they were a tight team. But one of his own, sold him out for a quick and insignificant sum. His master and teacher was worth less to him than the price of a slave.

Beyond that, Jesus was also abandoned. At his most difficult hour, in his moment of greatest need, were is loyal friends there for him? When trouble came knocking, everyone fled. Only hours earlier Peter had declared “Even if I must die with you, I will not deny you” (Mt 26.35). 21 verses later, “then all the disciples left him and fled” (Mt 26.56).

We truly have one “who endured from sinners such hostility against himself” (Heb 12.3). Jesus knows the sting of broken trust and betrayal. He has felt the ache of seeing loyal friends flee the scene in his moment of greatest need.

In the moments I feel abandoned, I find strength in the company of the one who was truly abandoned and truly betrayed. I find strength in the friend who keeps his promise “I am with you always” (Mt 28:20).