A Meditation for Maundy Thursday: Betrayal

A Maundy Thursday Meditation on Matthew 26:20-25                 Image


Betrayal: it is easy for us to see the evil in what Judas did and to judge him. But each one of us must ask “Is it I, Lord?” We have no grounds to stand in judgment of Judas. “The one who has dipped his hand into the bowl with me will betray me.” Someone who has been close to Jesus, someone who walked with him daily, someone who has seen and heard and had opportunity truly to know the Son of God like few others have – someone like that could betray Jesus.

 Lord, have mercy. Christ, have mercy.

We may be like Peter and overestimate ourselves. That, too, is an easy mistake to make. When Peter heard Jesus say that all of them would fall away from him, he insisted emphatically that he was willing to die for Jesus, even if everyone else deserted him. “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you!” And all the others said the same.

Lord, have mercy. Christ, have mercy.

And Peter was not just saying empty words – when they came to arrest Jesus, Peter took out his sword and cut off the ear of the high priest’s servant. That took courage and commitment. But we all know what happened later. Peter denied Jesus, not once, but three times.

Lord, have mercy. Christ, have mercy.

Maundy Thursday gets its name from the Latin word for command, because Jesus gave commandments to his disciples at the last Supper. He washed their feet and commanded them, and us, to serve each other and love each other. He commanded his disciples to remember him in the Lord’s Supper. In the context of that final meal, knowing that he would soon be going to the cross, he shared with his disciples the most important things that they would need to know: “I am going away, but I will not leave you orphans.…My Father and I will send you another counselor who will be with you forever, to guide you and comfort you…I have called you my friends…This is my commandment – Love each other as I have loved you…If you love me, you will keep my commandments.”

Lord, have mercy. Christ, have mercy.

He also taught them “I am the vine, and you are the branches. Apart from me, you can do nothing.” The truth is, we can do nothing without Jesus. Nothing.

Peter was not able to be faithful to Jesus. We cannot keep his commandments. We need the counselor, the Holy Spirit whom Jesus promised to send, in order to obey his commandments, in order to love him, in order to love each other as he has loved us.

Lord, have mercy. Christ, have mercy.

We can not do anything – even choose to serve Jesus – without God’s help. On that night of their last meal together, Jesus taught the twelve “You did not choose me; I chose you.”

Jesus even chose Judas. John 6 says that Jesus chose Judas to be one of the 12, even though he knew from the beginning that Judas would betray him. He still chose Judas. He still chooses us.

Lord, have mercy. Christ, have mercy.

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