Scripture reading: Matthew 26:47-56, Mark 14:43-52, Luke 22:47-53, John 18:2-12
Have you ever had a close friend betray you? Imagine the scene for a moment.
It was a dark night and very late. When Judas led the soldiers, chief priests, and Pharisees into the garden, they likely carried lamps or torches along with their weapons. Everyone was tired. Most of the disciples had fallen asleep.
Judas knew this place well. He had been there before. However, this time he had dark plans in his heart. It was finally time to reveal his evil intent. Perhaps it was purely his love for money that hardened his heart. Regardless, he was now revealing his hand.
As he approached, the other disciples watched with confusion. Was that Judas leading the way? Judas, their friend? Judas, who had been with them for the last three years? Was this the man Jesus entrusted with the money? Why was Judas bringing in these enemies, these enemies who were carrying weapons?
Imagine the anger and disgust that must have been in their hearts. Judas had been their constant companion, witnessing all the miracles Jesus performed from town to town. Judas was there for his sermons. He personally benefited from Jesus’ instruction, affection, and encouragement. This was their friend who traveled with them and spent many late nights talking about the kingdom of God.
Was their friend Judas really about to betray the one who had given him so much?
How could he?
Then he approached Jesus. Jesus knew his heart, he knew this day was coming, and he knew Judas would betray him. When Judas came close, Jesus received his kiss of betrayal with sincere affection.
Jesus knew, better than even Judas did, why he was there.
He received him with a kiss.
Things happened quickly at this point. Soldiers drew close, words were exchanged, and each of the men who had been with Jesus fled. Jesus was left alone with his captors. No one stood with him in his hour of trial.
From one frame of reference, everything was going wrong. It wasn’t supposed to end this way. Judas, motivated by his love for money, had betrayed the one who could give him riches that would never fade.
Another story was also unfolding. Jesus, motivated by his desire to display his Father’s glory, had set his face toward this day.
Judas was tempted and he failed. Jesus was tempted and he persevered. He set his face toward Jerusalem where he would be mocked and beaten.
Jesus gave himself to those who betrayed him.
He gave himself for those who betrayed him.
Jesus was determined to give his life as a ransom for many, and even this moment of darkness was part of his plan. When all seemed bleak and spinning out of control, Jesus’ grip was firmly in place of all that was happening. He was confident that His Father would complete what he began.
During Holy Week, your pastoral team will share a daily devotion from Palm Sunday until Resurrection Sunday. Christ is risen!