As we come to this devotion, I want to invite you all to take a moment to find some bread or crackers, and some juice or drink you can use as we will have a brief time of communion at the end of this devotion.
Today I want to talk to you about...
When we think of Holy Week, so often we rush past the cross to the resurrection. As Christians we most definitely have our sure and certain hope in the resurrection. But, we shouldn’t pass up the journey that gets us there. I shared with you all if we’re backing up from the resurrection:
You can’t have a resurrection without Jesus’ death.
You can’t get to his death without the cross.
You can’t get to the cross without his trial.
You can’t get to the trial without his arrest.
You can’t get to his arrest without his betrayal.
You can’t get to his betrayal without the expectation.
You can’t get to the expectation without the need.
If you’ve joined us on the journey of 30 days with Jesus, today you read Matthew 26:17-56, which speaks of Jesus’ passover with the disciples, the institution of the Lord’s Supper, Jesus in the garden, and then Jesus’ betrayal and arrest.
The danger we have as Christians is to gloss over details and so miss elements of the Passion Narrative, that is the story of Jesus last week of life in what we call Holy Week.
So, I want to focus on the way Jesus was betrayed. Let’s begin at vs. 20 of Matthew 26 your reading for today. Let’s look at vs. 20-21.
When it was evening, he reclined at table with the twelve. And as they were eating, he said, “Truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me.”
Betrayal - no one likes it. We all condemn it in fact. We describe it with such words like backstabbing and undercutting. The dictionary describes it as violation of a person’s trust or confidence.
We’ve all, I think, felt betrayed at some point in our lives. What’s interesting to note is that Jesus is reclining with the twelve at the table, with his inner circle, and he says to them, “Truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me.”
And one after another they ask, “Is it I, Lord?” And he answers them in verse 23
He answered, “He who has dipped his hand in the dish with me will betray me.
Now stop and think about that. It’s not just someone at the dinner, it is someone who reclines close enough to Jesus that they are sharing the same dish with him. This is not some distant acquaintance, this is someone close. And it always is.
Jesus knew who it was!
Later in the garden, Judas greets Jesus with a kiss. We get the phrase, “Would you betray me with a kiss?,” from this scene in the Gospels.
Betrayal is an awful thing. And though we’ve all be betrayed, can anyone of us say that we haven’t betrayed Christ at some time ourselves? Let’s look at the definition of betrayal again:
Webster defines betrayal as:
1. the act of betraying someone or something or the fact of being betrayed : violation of a person's trust or confidence, of a moral standard, etc.
It’s that moral standard that gets everyone of us. We all have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory. (Romans 3:23-25).
But we likely get caught on the second definition as well.
2. revelation of something hidden or secret
All of us have either on purpose or accidentally at some point revealed something we weren’t supposed to, shared a secret, etc.
So, though we condemn Judas for betraying Christ, all of us in some way have betrayed. We all fall short of a moral standard - God’s Word. We all have failed to keep a promise. We all have failed to keep a secret.
So, before we condemn the betrayer of Christ, we need to recognize that same betrayer is in ourselves.
Yet stunningly, after the revelation of who the betrayer is, Jesus institutes the Lord’s Supper. Let’s read 26-28 of our Matthew passage
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 imagine that as the disciples reflected on all of Jesus’ lessons throughout his life, and even this lesson on that night, they couldn’t help but wonder, “all sins?” Does the blood of the covenant truly cover all sins?
In verse 56 we read that “all the disciples left him and fled.”
All of them. No one stuck by. Who are we to think we would do any more?
This doesn’t lower the standard of what it means to follow Jesus nor what it means to be Holy. Not at all. But it does once again remind us of God’s grace, and mercy. It reminds us that Jesus paid for it ALL.
As we go through Holy Week - we’re here at what we call Maundy Thursday, we’re not at the cross yet, nor are we at the Resurrection. It’s time to remember the Passover, and to Remember the Lord’s Supper, and of course to Remember all that Jesus did for us.
We’re going to celebrate Communion together, so I hope that you have your bread or crackers and some sort of juice or drink that can represent the cup for our communion virtually today.
I’m simply going to pray, then we’ll read what Jesus said and do what he and the disciples did, and finally we’ll close in prayer together.
Please pray with me:
Lord Jesus, we’ve come here as Christians seeking you. We know you’ve been here with us this entire time. Lord, we ask that you would make yourself ever more real to us. Remind us once again of all that you’ve done for us as we journey through this Holy Week. We come to celebrate Communion with you - to Commune with you - and experience your presence fully.
We ask now that you would take the elements that we have gathered where we’re at, that you would unite us as your children. We ask that you would bless our bread, as we break it, we remember your body was broken for us. We read in Matthew’s Gospel,
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.”
Take and eat in Remembrance of Jesus.
Take and eat the bread
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.
The blood of Jesus covenant has been poured out for the forgiveness of sins.
Drink you all of it!
Lord, as we have partaken of your bread and your cup. Help us to remember that you have paid the entire price for our sins. Help us to remember the blood that covers us - that though our sins be as scarlet they shall be white as snow.
Lead us now to reflect your glory to all those around us. We pray this in Jesus, Name. AMEN!
I pray that you all have a wonderful Holy Weekend. I look forward to seeing you at our Easter Service Sunday morning at 10am. We’re still doing COVID safe worship from our automobiles in our church parking lot. I hope to see you there!