Throughout this season of Lent, Passover, and Easter, I have been thinking a lot about the story of the Last Supper and the betrayal of Jesus. A few things have occurred to me.
For example, Jesus spent most of his time with his twelve disciples. Men that he loved. Men that he taught. Men that he ate meals with, fished with, slept beside, laughed with, cried with, and sang with over campfires. Jesus had multitudes of people who came to hear him speak. But out of those multitudes, only twelve stayed by his side and followed him “whithersoever he goeth.” They shared things with him that the multitudes never did. From within that intimate circle of twelve, there were three, Peter, James, and John, who made up an even smaller, more intimate circle. These three many times accompanied Jesus in places the other disciples did not go. For instance, the Transfiguration in Matthew 17: 1-2. Again in Luke 8:50-55, when Jesus prayed for the dead child. And yet again in the Garden of Gethsemane when he asked the three to watch with him while he prayed. (Matthew 26:26-39). And in John 13:23 we see the smallest of intimate circles. Only Jesus and John.
It amazes me to think that Judas Iscariot spent three years with Jesus getting to know him, (and one would think that he came to love him) and that he could turn on him so easily; all for thirty pieces of silver. (Which by the way, did him no good once he hung himself.) If we look closer into this scriptural account we see that Jesus knew all along who was going to betray him, yet he never treated Judas any differently than any of his other disciples. This is a man who not only sat at the table with Jesus but dipped into the same bowl with him. When we sit down to our table it is our intimate, inner circle of family and friends with whom we sup, not strangers. And even then they do not dip into the same bowl as we. Dipping into the same bowl is very intimate.
As I consider this I have to ask myself, “if I knew ahead of time that someone close to me was going to betray me, wouldn’t I distance myself from them? Even if I knew it was the will of God that they betray me, wouldn’t I treat them differently than those who I knew would stay loyal to me and stand by me?
This makes me feel like crying. Why? Because I love Jesus so much and it hurts me to know he was so hurt? Maybe. But perhaps it is because I, myself, have felt betrayed at times by people within my own small, intimate, inner circle. People I thought would never betray me or be disloyal to me have. People who I thought would stand for the truth no matter the cost, even if it meant their own lives have betrayed me. You see, this is exactly why Jesus’ disciples abandoned him. They were afraid that it would cost them their lives if they stood for the Truth. (Jesus said, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.”)
The reality is, if Peter, James, and John had not abandoned Jesus, the two crosses next to Christs’ that held the two thieves might have held one or two of them.
It is rare indeed to find people who are willing to “pay the cost” of standing for the truth. Many find it much easier to “sugar coat” things. They find it easier to win man’s approval, to not offend, to stay “neutral;” to “make nice.” The Bible speaks of such things very plainly. It is a very serious matter! Galatians 1:10 says, “Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.”
The Bible is full of scriptures that talk about a small remnant of people who will be “the first of the first fruits”. Revelation 14:4 is my favorite. Like Jacob, who told the Lord, “I will not let you go“, and Paul who said, “this one thing I do, I press forward towards the mark of the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus”, I never want to let go. I have made up my mind. By HIS power and strength, I will press forward. I will stand for the Truth. Even if it costs me my life.