Summary: Jesus used the principle of understanding our weaknesses but trusting our possibilities in order to transform people-pleasers into persons of integrity, ambition into selfless commitment, and immaturity into responsibility.

History is full of stories of betrayal. Those who look like

friends sometimes turn on you. Friendship means nothing to

people who are bent on preserving privileges or feeding

ambitions. Some of us have friends who would sell us for

even less than Judas’ thirty pieces of silver if they could!

And some of us would cash in our friendships for next to


Personally, I wish I could get at least ten cents on the dollar

for everything I have loaned out over the years. Everything

from cash to books to power tools has been loaned out to

friends. And if it came back at all, it was damaged or used

up. I let a friend use my saber saw; I thought he knew what

he was doing. But he used that little delicate saw to cut

down a heavy metal pole, and burned it right up. He then

avoided me for several weeks. You know what that feels

like? That feels like a personal betrayal. That feels like a

blatant misuse of friendship. It wasn’t about the tool. It was

about being a friend and expecting friendly treatment. But

what we get, too many times, is betrayal.

Nothing stings quite as much as betrayal by those closest to

you. If you have enemies, you can understand that they are

trying to hurt you. At least they are flying the enemy flag and

you know what’s going on. But to be hurt by your friends –

that stings! As the old saying goes, “With friends like mine,

who needs enemies?!”

Jesus had His share of enemies. As He approached

Jerusalem, there was a coalition pursuing Him. Some of

them were actively on His case, like the Pharisees, who

hated His spiritual freedom, and like the priests, who felt

threatened by His disdain for their religious niceties. Jesus

had some obvious enemies. And Jesus had some less

obvious enemies, too, like the political zealots, disappointed

that He had not led an uprising against Rome; and like the

Romans themselves, who were frankly indifferent about

another crazy candidate for Messiah. Jesus had powerful

enemies, both up front and behind the scenes.

But the most dangerous enemies Jesus had were among His

friends! The most dangerous people around Him were those

in His inner circle of disciples. They didn’t sound like

betrayers. No one saw their ulterior motives. They looked

like friends, good and true. And yet, with friends like Peter,

James, and John, who needs enemies? The closer we get

to some people, the more dangerous they become. Like the

French marshal said when faced with the plots of King Louis

XIV, “I can defend myself from my enemies; [I need

somebody to] defend me from my friends.”

Jesus knew how to deal with His friends. He knew how to

transform the weaknesses of His friends into strengths. He

knew how to take their insecurities and turn them into

loyalties. He understood how to turn His friends’ issues into

magnificent possibilities. Jesus did it by getting real with His

friends. Jesus got real with Peter and with James and with

John. What they were on that night in Gethsemane is not

the half of what they became, because Jesus got real with

His friends.

I want you to notice that there was one fundamental principle

that Jesus followed in getting real with His friends: He both

understood them and He trusted them. He understood how

weak and untrustworthy they were, but He trusted them

anyway. He trusted them, even though it would hurt Him and

send Him to a cross. He said, “The spirit indeed is willing,

but the flesh is weak.” That means that He understood them

for what they were, but He loved them for what they could

become. Jesus got real with His friends, and transformed


Let’s follow those friends. Let’s find out where they were

coming from that night in the garden. And let’s discover

where Jesus took them when He got real with His friends.


There’s Peter, for one. Novelist Lloyd Douglas dubbed him

“the big fisherman”. “Big” is right. Everything about Peter

was larger than life. When Jesus first called Peter, he

immediately left his fishing net to follow. When he learned

about his mother-in-law’s illness, at once Peter took Jesus to

her bedside. When Jesus went off by Himself to rest and

pray, it was Peter who went looking for the Master, not

content to be quiet. This is a Type A personality: get it done,

do it now, say what you feel, don’t stop to look inside, blab,

blab, blah! Just do! I want this done yesterday! Do you

know anybody like that?

But Jesus got real with Peter. Jesus loved him, but Jesus

also understood him. When Peter blurted out the

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