Devotions on Mark 14:12-25–One of You Will Betray Me
August 28-September 3, 2017
Monday, August 25, 2017–One of You Will Betray Me
“So he sent two of his disciples saying to them, ‘Go into the city, and a man carrying a jar of water will meet you’” (Mark 14:13).
The anxious high school graduates gathered in the auditorium the morning before their graduation ceremony. For the next two hours they rehearsed what was going to happen that evening. They practiced marching in, sitting down, standing up, receiving their diplomas, shaking hands and finally recessing out of the auditorium. The rehearsal had a calming effect upon the graduates. Though this was an exciting and important time in their lives, they didn’t need to be stressed out. They knew what was going to happen.
Since Jesus and his disciples had entered Jerusalem, tension had been mounting. The disciples didn’t know what was going to happen next. It was comforting for them that Jesus had a sense of what was going to happen. Jesus appeared to be in control. He even told them what was going to happen when they went into the city to prepare the Passover meal.
Our lives may seem confusing and things may appear to be out of control, yet, God is with us. God is not surprised and we can take comfort in that.
Lord, bring your peace upon us so that we can rest in you. Amen.
Tuesday, August 29, 2017–One of You Will Betray Me
“So the disciples set out and went to the city, and found everything as he had told them” (Mark 14:16a).
Imagine the turn that the story would have taken if the two disciples would have sat down and discussed the implications of what Jesus had said instead of packing up and heading into the city. The story would have stopped there. Nothing would have happened. Thankfully, the disciples obeyed Jesus, went into the city and found everything just as he had told them.
As disciples of Jesus we are called to do more than share theological opinions and religious experiences. Like the two disciples on that first day of the Passover feast, we are called to obey. John Ortberg captures the thought well in his book, If You Want to Walk on Water, You’ve Got to Get Out of the Boat. Discipleship is living in faithful obedience to the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
Help us, Lord, to always be able to say, “Yes,” when you direct us to move. Amen.
Wednesday, August 30, 2017–One of You Will Betray Me
“And they prepared the Passover Meal” (Mark 14:16b).
After having been sent out into surrounding towns to heal the sick, cast out demons and proclaim the gospel, preparing for the Passover meal must have seemed rather trivial to the two disciples. Such a task certainly wasn’t very exciting and it could almost be looked upon as “women’s work.” As mundane a task as it was, the preparations of the two disciples set the stage for one of the central events in the ministry of Jesus. Many of us remember this event and celebrate Holy Communion at every Sunday worship service.
Small, mundane tasks can become large conduits of God’s love and grace. A word of praise can turn a bad day into a good one. A listening ear can lighten a heavy burden. A water bottle given to a homeless man can not only quench thirst, but also share love. We may not be called to do great things. Yet, no matter what we are lead to do, our actions can be used to touch lives and spread the kingdom of God.
Help us to listen and obey, Lord, so that your kingdom is established in the lives of others. Amen.
Thursday, August 31, 2017–One of You Will Betray Me
“Truly I tell you one of you will betray me, one who is eating with me” (Mark 14:18).
There was discord in First Church. Its pastor of twenty-five years retired. A new pastor had been called and, during her first year, had made some minor changes. Some of the people were happy with the changes and liked the new pastor, while others didn’t like the changes and were upset with the new pastor. The new pastor and the changes became the topic of almost every conversation around First Church. Animosity grew between the two sides and the tension it created was felt throughout the church, especially during worship services and the celebration of communion.
The tension and discord experienced by the members of First Church, might have been similar to the tension at the Last Supper. There was a betrayer among the disciples. Jesus might have been able to force Judas to leave before the meal, but he didn’t. Instead he handed the bread to Judas and said, “This is my body.” Later Jesus gave the cup of wine to Judas and said, “This is my blood.” Jesus also gave the bread and wine to Peter who denied him and to the other disciples who abandoned him. What could have been a meal of judgment was transformed into a meal of love and forgiveness.
Through intervention, a healing process was started at First Church. After several months, the members of First Church began to realize that they all received the bread and the wine as imperfect people in need of God’s love and forgiveness. Transformation took place in the congregation just as it does in our lives when we eat the bread and drink the wine.
Lord, may our differences that separate us never be more powerful than our common need of your love and forgiveness unite us. Amen.
Friday, September 1, 2017–One of You Will Betray Me
“They began to get distressed” (Mark 14:19).
When we read the gospel stories, we discover that the disciples are often distressed. There is their distress at hearing that one of them would betray Jesus. They are distressed when fighting a storm on the Sea of Galilee. We can imagine that the disciples were distressed when they argued with each other over who was the greatest among them. In contrast to the disciples’ agitation is the calm presence of Jesus.
We will never get rid of all of the distressing elements of life. Doing so should not be our main goal in our lives. Jesus is present in our lives, however. Looking to Jesus, rather than to that which distresses us, enables us to calm down and rest in Jesus’ arms.
In the storms of life, Lord, enable us to experience the peace that passes understanding. Amen.
Saturday, September 2, 2017–One of You Will Betray Me
“For the Son of Man goes as it is written of him” (Mark 14:21).
Jesus knew what lay ahead for him, yet, he continued along the path, “as it [was] written of him.” Any time during the previous week, Jesus could have walked away and gone back up to Nazareth or Capernaum. He could have ended his confrontation with the religious authorities, but Jesus chose not to. Instead, Jesus chose the path of the cross.
John writes in his gospel, “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15:3). As we see Jesus willingly chose to journey to the cross, we are amazed at the depth of his love for us. Celebrating such love, we know that the only way we can respond to Jesus’ love is to share that love with others.
Lord, your steadfast love overwhelms us. Move within us so that it may also inspire us to further works of love. Amen.
Sunday, September 3, 2017–One of You Will Betray Me
“This is my blood of the covenant which is poured out for many” (Mark 14:24).
The four gospels paint the events of Thursday night as a rather intimate affair. Jesus is in an upper room with only his disciples. He celebrates the Passover meal with them and tells them the startling news that one of them will betray him. At the end of the meal, Jesus offers his disciples bread and wine, telling them that they are his body and blood given and shed. In this most intimate time, Jesus doesn’t tell the disciples that his body and blood are given and shed “for them,” but rather “for many.”
The Church has always struggled with Jesus’ choice of words. We gather together around an altar or in a sanctuary and receive the bread and the wine. Wheb we do we hear the words that Jesus’ body and blood were given and shed for us. We forget that his body and blood were given and shed for many—for people beyond our Christian community.
Many people don’t know what Jesus has done for them. As followers of Jesus, it is our privilege and responsibility to share with those around us the good news of God’s love.
Lord, empower us to be bold and loving in our sharing of your love for all of your creation. Amen.