Betrayal, denial and following Jesus – from John 13

God forbid any of us should betray Jesus as Judas did. Honestly I’m not very sure what that would even look like today. Possibly, it could be someone doing the opposite of the Apostle Paul. He was an early persecutor of the church who later was converted and became an ardent follower of Christ. Today I can imagine someone following Jesus, serving him in what appears to be sincere, outward devotion encouraging others in a position of ministry. What if this person turns, if Satan enters him as he entered Judas, and then this public Christian turns and becomes a persecutor of the church? It could happen. Maybe someone knows of a story just like this. (I do not.) This would be just Judas-like enough to qualify as a complete betrayal.

More common by far are those who deny Jesus like Peter. Simon Peter was overconfident. He would have gladly laid down his life for his Lord – or so he imagined. Jesus knew better and told Peter he would deny him three times before the night was over. Many of us fit into this category. We’ve blown it when we had the perfect chance to resist temptation or make Jesus look good. Let’s face it, we sometimes find it hard not to go along with the world.

The church is full of Peters and most of us can identify with his weakness. Thank God that he uses weak servants, empowers them with his Spirit, and builds his church through their feeble yet God-infused ministries.

By God’s grace, most of us who follow Jesus do so with a modicum of faithfulness. Our lives give evidence of a modest amount of the fruit of his work. We exercise our mustard seed of faith. We donate our few loaves and fishes to the cause of feeding the multitudes. Someone wishes to see Jesus and we are happy to lead the way to the Savior. We figuratively (or literally, if need be) wash the feet of the saints. These little actions are the big ways that God furthers the kingdom.

One thing that stands out to me in this chapter is how little the other ten disciples could do to prevent the betrayal by Judas or Peter’ denials. As far as I can tell, they could do nothing. There are times when we all have to stand or fall on our own. Even following the crowd, in the end, becomes an individual decision. When that time comes, may we all be found faithful. Let us each take a few more steps today as we follow our Lord.

Luke 22 – Verse by Verse

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This chapter, in which Jesus institutes the Lord’s Supper shows us four important things.  They are Judas’s betrayal, Peter’s denial, Christ’s prayer and Christ’s covenant.

Luke 22.pdf

Luke 22.mp3

Here is a link to the livestream video:

Is it I? – Matthew 26:20-25

If we follow the events of this last week in Jesus’ life day by day, this evening would be the night of the Last Supper.  Let’s look at an interaction that took place between Jesus and his disciples as they gathered around that table.

20 When it was evening, he reclined at table with the twelve. 21 And as they were eating, he said, “Truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me.” 22 And they were very sorrowful and began to say to him one after another, “Is it I, Lord?” 23 He answered, “He who has dipped his hand in the dish with me will betray me. 24 The Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that man if he had not been born.” 25 Judas, who would betray him, answered, “Is it I, Rabbi?” He said to him, “You have said so.”

Jesus had some very bad news for Judas: It would have been better for him if he had not been born.  It is no small thing to betray the Lord of all.  But before that awful revelation, all of the disciples are seen questioning their own commitment to Christ.

Lack of faith can diminish our trust in Jesus.  Deepening faith should cause us to distrust ourselves.  How committed are to Christ, really? 

The record probably shows that we are capable of denial, betrayal and numerous unjustified doubts.  Not a pretty sight.

As we look forward to the crucifixion on Good Friday and even more to the resurrection that comes later, let’s pause to question our commitment.  And then let’s remember that neither the quality, strength, nor the confident enthusiasm of our faith is nearly so important as its object.  Who or what are putting our faith in?  A little faith in an all powerful, all loving Savior who died for our sins is sufficient to overcome the world.  

One of those present at the Last Supper, on the night before the day that Jesus died, who questioned himself by asking, “It it I?” was John the beloved disciple.  Much later, he put it like this in one of his letters (1 John 5:4-5),

For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?

 

Mark 14 Verse by Verse

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Christ is getting closer to the cross. This chapter will highlight a woman’s sacrifice, Peter’s failure and Christ’s obedience.

Mark 14.pdf

Mark 14.mp3