The disciples came to the table to celebrate the Passover with Jesus. Even with the tensions obvious in his ministry, people still waved palm branches and shouted, “Hosanna!” as he entered Jerusalem. There was every reason for the disciples to be hopeful and excited to share in this ancient ritual with Christ. They were celebrating the Passover with the Messiah!
But things didn’t turn out the way they expected. Within their small group there is betrayal. One who is perhaps tired of things not moving along as he expected they should. One who has been offered a worldly reward that might help him achieve his personal goals. One who makes a permanent decision to ease a temporary discomfort. And Jesus accepts him at that table, all the while knowing that his heart has turned fully inward.
Sometimes we find ourselves in situations that were intended to be good, but there is a turning of events that changes that intent into a corrupted and destructive moment. The “crowd” begins to get louder and the pressures mount. We make decisions to appease others, even when our minds and spirits tell us, “This isn’t right”. It is a personal betrayal. It is a betrayal of our Creator who formed us in his image, gave us the ability to think, and intended for us to be in loving relationship with God and one another.
We don’t know who cleared the dishes after this Passover gathering. They would have found the basin of water with dirt and grime settled in the bottom. A wet towel on the floor or draped over a chair. Leftover bread and wine, perhaps. And an uneasy silence about what is unfolding. What was intended as a sacred ritual is the backdrop of the decision both to dip our fingers in the bowl with Christ and choose to betray.
The discomfort of the morning after is felt by all of us. The weight of our own sin. How eagerly we run to the moments of celebration and holy experiences; and how quickly we turn away when we realize humble surrender of our own power and plans is required. Jesus asked a pivotal question earlier when a few of the disciples were trying to ensure their positions as God’s kingdom is being fulfilled,
Then the mother of Zebedee’s sons came to Jesus with her sons and, kneeling down, asked a favor of him
“What is it you want?” he asked.
She said, “Grant that one of these two sons of mine may sit at your right and the other at your left in your kingdom.
“You don’t know what you are asking,” Jesus said to them. “Can you drink the cup I am going to drink?”
“We can,” they answered.
Jesus said to them, “You will indeed drink from my cup, but to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared by my Father.” (Matthew 20:20-23)
The two disciples are certain that they can “drink the cup” that Jesus is going to drink in that moment. But now, as the dishes are being cleared, it all looks different. The decisions of individuals have set things in motion. The push to condemn and remove this threatening Messiah increases. The devoted disciples begin to scatter and avoid the situation. What began with “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”, now reveals the depths of our ability to betray and destroy one another. The profound gift of grace that commands us to love is hidden from view.
Holy God, how do we stand in the memory of your story, and bear the reality of our own stories of betrayal right now? We get impatient with your timing. We easily turn to building our own empires and leave you on the sidelines. We are silent when we see things that are wrong. We are quick to condemn those who think differently than we do. We trade social media posts for authentic listening and relationship. We take matters into our own hands because we fail to trust that you are being faithful to fulfill your promises. Forgive us, Lord, for the many ways we betray you in our efforts to “do the right thing”. We are so unable to do the right thing within the messes we have created. And still, it is our desire to honor you. It is our intention to surrender our lives for your glory. We are completely powerless to do this, and we need your help. Come quickly Lord Jesus; make haste to help us. We do trust you, Lord; we trust you completely. Amen.
Prayers & Practices of Surrender
Lord, I trust you with ________________________; I yield this situation or person(s) into your hands. (Read Psalm 118)
God of mercy, my eyes and mind are clouded by my own pain and certainty. I think I am right, but I know my understanding is limited. I welcome your Holy Spirit to open my eyes; I welcome you to renew my mind. I ask you, Lord, to make me whole again. Please set me on the rock that is higher than I. I need you and I yield to you. (Read Psalm 61)
Creator of All, we love you. Our world is reeling with grief and shame. The land cries out with the blood of so many. The sky witnesses our betrayals and destruction every moment of time, in every season. When we stop to look at one another, our own sin and pain is reflected in our neighbor’s eyes. It is so hard to accept that we stop looking. Help us, God, to see each other as you see. Help us to be in community as you want us to be. Let your perfect love, cast out our fear. Amen (Read I John 4)
Attend a Good Friday service today. Set aside your critique of those who tell the story. Just listen. Ponder. Receive. Sit with the reality of how we, as people who claim to love God, often respond when the kingdom of God comes near.
Evan Craft – Desesperado