Betrayal, Desertion & Denial – Matthew 26

            Have you ever been betrayed by a friend, or felt deserted in your time of need? Jesus’ disciples did just that. And Jesus knew and told them it all would happen.

            Passover is a wonderful time of tradition, remembrance, and celebration of God’s deliverance. Jesus had this last Passover meal with His disciples to give them a few final lessons. “One of you will betray Me,” He says in verse 21 (NIV). “This very night, you will all fall away on account of Me.” (vs 31 NIV) And, “This very night, before the rooster crows, you will disown Me three times.” (vs 34 NIV)

            Judas Iscariot had followed Jesus for three years waiting for Him to set up His kingdom. But here Jesus was talking about His death. This was not what they’d thought would happen. He was feeling disillusioned and let down. So Judas sold Jesus out; he betrayed the Lord, with a kiss. Petra has a song called “Judas Kiss,’ in which they talk about what it must feel like for Jesus when His children disobey Him and turn their backs on the sacrifice He made for them. Their conclusion, “It must be just like, Just like Judas Kiss!”

            Next came the desertion by all whom He had called friends. Verse 56 says, “Then all the disciples deserted Him and fled.” (NIV) They were afraid. If Jesus could be arrested, when they knew He was the Messiah, what could happen to them. Terror and confusion gripped their minds and hearts. What are you facing in your life? Are you scared and confused, tempted to also turn you back on Jesus and run away like the disciples did?

            Last came Peter’s denial. Peter, one of the inner circle, who’d seen Jesus in all His glory on the mountain, who had declared, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God,” (Matthew 16:16 NIV) now claims he doesn’t know Jesus. He’s confronted by a couple servants and a group huddled around a fire for warmth. And each denial is more vehement: the first, “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” (vs 70 NIV) the second, “He denied it with an oath, ‘I don’t know the Man,’” ((vs 72 NIV) and the third, “Then he began to call down curses on himself and swore to them, ‘I don’t know the Man!’” (vs 74 NIV) Then he hears it! The rooster crows! And he remembers Jesus words. In Luke’s Gospel he says that at that point, “Just as he was speaking, the rooster crowed. The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter.” (Luke 22:60-61 NIV) Can you imagine the despair Peter felt at that moment. He went out and wept. He felt worthless. He had denied the Lord he loved.

            What would I have done in the disciples’ place? Would I have sold Jesus out? Would I have run away and hid? Would I have denied even knowing Him? Jesus said in Matthew 10:32-33, “Whoever acknowledges Me before men, I will also acknowledge him before My Father in heaven. But whoever disowns Me before men, I will disown him before My Father in heaven.” (NIV) I don’t want to betray, desert, or deny my Lord. I want to shine for Christ and not hide my light. How about You?

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