March 31 – Betray and Deny
John 13:21-33, 36-38
When Jesus had thus spoken, he was troubled in spirit, and testified, “Truly, truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me.” The disciples looked at one another, uncertain of whom he spoke. One of his disciples, whom Jesus loved, was lying close to the breast of Jesus; so Simon Peter beckoned to him and said, “Tell us who it is of whom he speaks.” So lying thus, close to the breast of Jesus, he said to him, “Lord, who is it?” Jesus answered, “It is he to whom I shall give this morsel when I have dipped it.” So when he had dipped the morsel, he gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot. Then after the morsel, Satan entered into him. Jesus said to him, “What you are going to do, do quickly.” Now no one at the table knew why he said this to him. Some thought that, because Judas had the money-box, Jesus was telling him, “Buy what we need for the feast”; or, that he should give something to the poor. So, after receiving the morsel, he immediately went out; and it was night.
When he had gone out, Jesus said, “Now is the Son of man glorified, and in him God is glorified; if God is glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself, and glorify him at once. Little children, yet a little while I am with you. You will seek me; and as I said to the Jews so now I say to you, ‘Where I am going you cannot come.’
Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, where are you going?” Jesus answered, “Where I am going you cannot follow me now; but you shall follow afterward.” Peter said to him, “Lord, why cannot I follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.” Jesus answered, “Will you lay down your life for me? Truly, truly, I say to you, the cock will not crow, till you have denied me three times.
How could anyone betray our Lord? Especially among His trusted apostles, the ones who were with Him through it all. Who traveled where He travelled, and witnessed everything He did. They heard His Word and wisdom in the temple, and were even given the gift to perform miracles in His name. Jesus whispers to Peter and John to watch who it will be, and when Jesus passed the dish, Judas gave himself away. What could Peter and John be thinking, knowing it was Judas who was going to betray all of them? Did they want to follow after him? Wonder where he really went after Jesus sent him away? Did they not believe that he would be able to pull it off, after all he was just a thief looking for more money? We can only wonder what they were thinking.
Jesus calls the apostles little children, not because they were children, but because they were still young in their faith. Jesus was leaving the entire new Christian Church in their hands. He knew the apostles would want to follow Him, and feel lost without Him, but it was not their time to follow Him to death because they still had work to do. The apostles did not understand this was the last Passover with their Lord. They thought Jesus may be going out on a new mission and leaving them behind. We too are still growing in our faith, trying to learn more about who Jesus Christ was and obeying His commands. Continue to read the Bible and grow strong in faith and love to Jesus. This way, when Jesus does call us to follow Him ‘afterward’, we will be ready to go.
Jesus also chose Peter to be the rock of His Church. Peter needed to be strong but humble and to think like a leader. The entire time since He called Simon Peter to be a “fisher of men,” Jesus had been guiding and building him up, but still rebuking Him when he said or did something not according to God’s plan. Peter, is a lot like us and didn’t completely think through what he said to Jesus, like, “God forbid, Lord! This shall never happen to you” (Matthew 16:22). Here again, he was saying that he was willing to die with Jesus (in John 18:10, Peter was the one named for drawing his sword and cutting off the ear of the high priest’s slave, willing to fight when they came to arrest Jesus), yet when the time came to admit he knew Jesus, he denied knowing Him, three times. In the face of our own persecution or death it is difficult for us to stand up for the Lord at all times. We still love Him, yet we value our lives and are easily scared, as Peter was after Jesus was arrested. He wanted know where they were taking Him and followed behind, but he was not there next to Him, also arrested and ready to die. Even though we might deny our Lord out of fear, He will not abandon us. There are some battles where Jesus needs to fight evil on His own. We may want to stand beside Him, but He knows what is best for us and when our time will be to fight will come. If Jesus does not take us into every battle, be thankful, pray and wait for the Holy Spirit to call. Jesus will call all of His warriors in due time and for a specific purpose. After Jesus’ death and filled with the Holy Spirit, Peter was able to speak boldly and grow God’s Church according to His plan, and die crucified upside down. Be prepared to stand up for the Truth and allow Jesus to lead the way into battle.
Lent in Action:
Stand strong in your faith when others may attack you for it. Ask the Holy Spirit to let you know when to keep quiet and when to speak boldly.
Jesus, thank you for your loving sacrifice and for preparing your apostles for the battle which lay before them. Prepare me for the work You are calling me to do. Fill me with the power of the Holy Spirit to speak boldly in your name. In your Holy Name. Amen.