Friday, April 06, 2012

Jesus Betrayed

This is the written version of the communion meditation I shared at the Good Friday Service tonight at Bethlehem Free Methodist Church here in Austin, MN.

The starting point for the events we reflect on tonight is betrayal. It was the choice of Judas to betray Jesus that sent in motion these final hours of Jesus' life.

Why did Judas make this choice? We cannot know for sure, but like humankind's first betrayal of God, Satan twisted his thoughts and desires, so that what he did seemed to be the logical thing to do.  He probably thought he was setting in motion the means for Jesus to declare himself as King and rebelling against Rome. Things didn't turn out as planned.

Yet Judas wasn't the only one to betray Jesus that night.  When push came to shove, when Jesus clearly revealed that there would be no fight to prevent his capture the disciples scattered.  Two follow from a distance, but one of those disciples, Peter, ended up denying Jesus.

Before we judge these first disciples too harshly let us remember we to have betrayed Jesus, and we too have denied Jesus.  We are not that much different.

How have we betrayed Jesus? Sure there is the presence of sin, but there is also more subtle ways we betray and deny Jesus.  We, like the disciples, often look to politics to usher God's Kingdom into the world. We adopt ways of living that is conformed to the ways of the world rather than following Jesus. We pursue a life that is filled with busy-ness that eats up our resources so we cannot be generous and use up all our time so we have very little to use for service and worship.  Remember in Romans 5:8 says: But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners (NLT).  Being sinners, the breakers of God's law,  made us  God's  enemies, traitors of His Kingdom.

With this background of betrayal and treachery, how did Jesus respond? Matthew 26:26-29 reads:

Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body.  And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, Drink of it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you I will not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father's kingdom (NLT). 

In the face of betrayal and treachery of his creation, his disciples, and his friends Jesus stopped and declared that he was making a new covenant.  That he was not abandoning them to Satan, sin, and death.  Jesus was making a promise, sealed with his  blood and death, that we can be numbered among God's people and be citizens of His Kingdom.

As we reflect on the darkness, the sin, the treachery, the agony, and the death associated with this day we begin with communion.  Not only does communion remind us of Jesus' commitment, but it also provides us with an opportunity to declare our loyalty to him.

Take a few minutes and consider the ways you have betrayed Jesus. Ask him for forgiveness, declare your commitment to him, and seal your promise to him through taking the Lord's Supper, remembering His promise to us.

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