A painting of St. Sebastian by Andrea Mantegna (Image: Wikimedia Commons)

‘What are these wounds in your hands? Then he shall answer, those with which I was wounded in the house of my friends.’ – Zechariah 13:6

How many of you have sustained deep wounds not from our national enemies, not from nasty folks in this world, and even not from the Devil, but from trusted brothers and sisters in the faith? Were they perhaps like arrows in the flesh, some easily pulled out and healed, but others going straight to the heart to remain there, barbed? Disappointments of our high hopes may lead us to disillusionment. Or they may instead bring us to the removal of illusions and unreal expectations unto a maturity of spirit. Even the high-held standards and expectations we have for ourselves have perhaps left us disappointed with our own performance, and left despairing.

We remember Peter, who Yeshua called Kaifa – the Rock – as he stumbled in his fear and weakness and three times denied knowing the Messiah, and then his tears. We also recall the prophets Elijah, Jeremiah and Jonah, all who, after their obedience, fell into depression and asked of G-d to take their lives. And there was David, a king of Israel who knew well the Torah’s commandments, and was called ‘a man after G-d’s own heart’, who yet stumbled in his weakness into adultery, lying, and an arranged murder, and a man whose own son betrayed him in rebellion. We might also call up Joseph, whose brothers betrayed him and led to his being sold as a slave to Egypt, where he was again betrayed and thrown into prison. And there was Jacob, who had to flee from his own brother Esau who sought to kill him in jealousy.

When we consider these men of G-d, in their utter humanity that the Bible does not hold back from revealing, we may draw some comfort.  And above all, we behold Yeshua on the night of his arrest in Jerusalem, betrayed by one of his own disciples with whom he had just eaten the Passover, and abandoned by all the others, who fled for their lives from Gatshemene. And that sinless king of Israel was then betrayed by the leaders of his own people into the hands of the brutal Romans for his scourging and execution by cruel crucifixion.

It is then perhaps to be understood as the highest of words ever uttered, from that bloody cross, to all those who had betrayed him, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Those words, so hard for us as humans to fathom, stand forever as a standard for all who would call upon the name of the Messiah. It is a standard that remains always easier said, or preached about, than done. But that standard remains forever before us, sometimes seeming an impossible hurdle as we suffer the betrayals, disappointments, and deep hurts from those we think of as brethren in the faith of the Messiah, not to mention that we are advised to forgive and love those inflicted by our enemies.

May the L-rd grant us His divine power to somehow overcome our wounds and to meet that challenge to forgive those who inflicted them. That may be indeed the only way to be healed of those wounds.