Holy Week - Thursday: Passover, Gethsemane and Betrayal

The Pain of Betrayal

Matt. 26:17-25, 46-56

Thursday was a very eventful day.  The disciples were busy preparing the Passover meal, purchasing the food and other supplies, as well as securing a room where they would share their last meal together.  They were participating in the Passover celebration, commemorating the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt, by way of the final plague, the killing of the first born.  At that supper, several things happened that are significant.  Jesus gave them His parting words, washed their feet, and instituted the Lord’s Supper, the new covenant of His blood. As the reader begins to follow these events of Jesus and His disciples, we can feel a sense of foreboding. In the parallel passage in John 13, Jesus tells the disciples that He is “troubled in spirit”.

From there, they sang a hymn and left, walking to the Garden of Gethsemane where they often went to pray. There we see Jesus praying in true agony, asking His disciples to pray with Him, as He was assaulted by every demon in hell! Oh, how they wanted Him to refuse that “cup”. It was there that Jesus met His betrayer, Judas, who approached Him with a mob armed with swords and clubs. Judas greeted Jesus with a kiss, calling him “Rabbi”, a term of affection. Amazingly, Jesus called him “friend”. Judas, one of the twelve disciples, was the one that objected to Mary of Bethany’s extravagant worship in John 12, when she poured perfumed oil on Jesus’ feet. John records Judas’ snippy words, “Shouldn’t that money have been given to the poor?” (John 12:6).  John also parenthetically mentions that Judas, who was the treasurer, often pilfered money out of the money box. Nevertheless, at the Passover meal, it doesn’t appear to be obvious to the disciples that Judas would be the one to betray Jesus. He must have seemed no different than the rest of them. And what was Judas’ motivation? Thirty pieces of silver had more value to him than the life of Jesus, which is consistent with John’s comments about Judas.  Jesus experienced betrayal with Judas that night, as well as later by His beloved disciple, Simon Peter. Peter, when confronted by a housemaid, vehemently denied that he even knew Jesus.

Here is our focus today: have you ever experienced the sting of betrayal?  Then you have a tiny idea of this pain. Scholars believe that Psalm 55:12-14 is a prophetic expression of the future thoughts of Jesus, “For it is not an enemy who reproaches me, then I could bear it. Nor is it one who hates me who has exalted himself against me; then I could hide from him. But it was you, a man my equal, my companion and my acquaintance. We took sweet counsel together and walked to the house of God in the throng.” To be attacked by an enemy is expected…the betrayed by a close friend is infinitely worse. Here Christ was delivered, literally “handed over” into the hands of His enemies, by one of His own.

Prayer for Today: Lord Jesus, I must admit that I have no right to condemn Judas, I’m no better than he. I have not betrayed you for thirty pieces of silver, but I am so quick to turn from my loyalty to You. The words of this hymn are my prayer today,

“Oh, to grace how great a debtor, daily I’m constrained to be

Let Thy goodness, like a fetter; bind my wandering heart to Thee,

Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it

Prone to leave the God I love,

Here’s my heart

Oh take and seal it,

Seal it for Thy courts above!”

Holy Week Devotionals

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