A Montrose Church Lent Devotional by Pastor Rick
Lent Day 37
Today's reading: John 13:21-32
It is at the Passover meal when Jesus announces to His twelve disciples that one of them will betray Him. Gathered around a table to celebrate and remember the deliverance of God in the Exodus, Jesus reveals that as a result of the betrayer’s deed, He will die. He will not be delivered from the cross. There will be no Exodus for Him. It shocked the other eleven and they wondered who that awful betrayer might be. Jesus reveals it to be Judas, but the eleven don’t connect with the revelation, and the dinner continues.
However, "Jesus was troubled in spirit" (v. 21). He knew his hour had come. He knew the cross was near. He knew Judas would betray Him. So, His thoughts turned to the cross and what was going to happen over the next several hours. He knew Peter would deny Him. He knew the others would scatter, running for their lives. He knew that Satan would see it all as a great victory. Judas left the dinner, but the rest of the men remained, unaware of what was about to go down. The pain of betrayal and denial cut deeply, and this night would be the longest night of His young life.
This text, in the heart of Lent, has gotten me to thinking. I’ve thought a lot about that scene over the years and of how many times I have failed the Lord. I have thought about the unsettled hearts of the disciples and of how easily they fled when the heat was on. I want to shout at Judas, "Why?" and then I think of my life, my sins, my brokenness, my failures, and how many times I have been less than I should have been. As I look on the scene, and think about all that would happen over the next several hours, and of my own self, I can’t help but think of a tax collector who, upon seeing Jesus, "stood at a distance… beat his breast and said, 'God, have mercy on me, a sinner’" (Luke 18:13).
I think of one more thing, too, that in the moment when Jesus’ heart was troubled, He also knew, unknown to anyone else in the room, that in it all God would be glorified, that He, Himself, would be glorified by the Father, and that the dark hour approaching would reveal the very reason Jesus had come into the world. The enemy would win the moment, but the enemy would not win the war. God was at work in Jesus and God was at work in some very ordinary men. The eleven would scatter but Jesus would bring them back. He would embrace them, fill them with His Holy Spirit, and set their hearts on fire with God’s grace and mercy and forgiveness.
Would you pray these words with me?
Love divine, all loves excelling, joy of heaven to earth come down, Fix in us thy humble dwelling, all thy faithful mercies crown; Jesus, thou art all compassion, pure unbounded love thou art, Visit us with thy salvation, enter every trembling heart. - Charles Wesley, 1747
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