12 On the first day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread, when the Passover lamb was sacrificed, the disciples said to Jesus, “Where do you want us to prepare for you to eat the Passover meal?”
13 He sent two of his disciples and said to them, “Go into the city. A man carrying a water jar will meet you. Follow him. 14 Wherever he enters, say to the owner of the house, ‘The teacher asks, “Where is my guest room where I can eat the Passover meal with my disciples?”’ 15 He will show you a large room upstairs already furnished. Prepare for us there.” 16 The disciples left, came into the city, found everything just as he had told them, and they prepared the Passover meal.
17 That evening, Jesus arrived with the Twelve. 18 During the meal, Jesus said, “I assure you that one of you will betray me—someone eating with me.”
19 Deeply saddened, they asked him, one by one, “It’s not me, is it?”
20 Jesus answered, “It’s one of the Twelve, one who is dipping bread with me into this bowl. 21 The Human One goes to his death just as it is written about him. But how terrible it is for that person who betrays the Human One! It would have been better for him if he had never been born.”
It’s been said that betrayal is the universal “sin” among all cultures. Betrayal of trust is at the heart of so much pain and suffering in our lives. It can scar us for life. Betrayal shatters trust in relationships so badly that not only are those relationships often beyond repair, it leaves the betrayed unable to trust others, or worse seeking revenge. The fact that we are usually betrayed by those closest to us makes this experience very relatable. Maybe that’s why we feel the sting so acutely when Judas betrays Jesus.
Judas was part of the inner circle of the twelve disciples. He traveled with Jesus, learned at his teacher’s feet, and lived in fellowship and community with Christ. He was even in charge of the group’s money. So how could he have betrayed Jesus? Maybe he didn’t love Jesus because Jesus was his Savior, maybe he only loved what Jesus could do for him. Maybe Judas had his own expectations of what he wanted Jesus to do, and when Jesus followed God’s plan leading to the cross, and not Judas’s plans, betrayal was inevitable.
Even as Judas is eating at the table with Jesus, dipping his hand into the communal meal, Jesus still loves him and tries to warn him. When Jesus tells them that “one of you will betray me” all the disciples ask, one by one, “It’s not me, is it?” They each ask because they know they are capable of betraying Jesus too. None are willing to go to the cross, only Jesus loves us enough to die for our sins, even as we betray Jesus.
We don’t see ourselves as the ones doing the betraying, we prefer to think that we would go to the cross with Jesus and not betray Jesus, or deny Jesus, or run away from Jesus. But we fall short of the mark everyday.
As disciples of Jesus we try following Christ and we fail. Yet Jesus still loves us and forgives us, and when we confess our sins, we are healed by God’s sacrifice of love and experience new life.
By Jeneene Reduker
For Pondering & Prayer
This Holy Week ask yourself, what are your expectations of Jesus? Why do you love Jesus? Do you love Jesus because Jesus loves you and is your Savior, or do you love Jesus for what Jesus can do for you? Jesus loves us and died for our sins. Pray this prayer of confession:
Prayer: Holy God, we confess that we have betrayed your Son, Jesus, and others and we humbly seek your loving forgiveness. We confess we have been hurt by the betrayal of others and that we haven’t forgiven them, as you have forgiven us. Lord, in your mercy, heal us and bring us to new life through your son Jesus Christ. Amen.