Lord, give me the strength never to deny You.
Read MATTHEW 26:47–56
47 While he was still speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, arrived. With him was a large crowd armed with swords and clubs, sent from the chief priests and the elders of the people. 48 Now the betrayer had arranged a signal with them: “The one I kiss is the man; arrest him.” 49 Going at once to Jesus, Judas said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” and kissed him.
50 Jesus replied, “Do what you came for, friend.”
Then the men stepped forward, seized Jesus and arrested him. 51 With that, one of Jesus’ companions reached for his sword, drew it out and struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his ear.
52 “Put your sword back in its place,” Jesus said to him, “for all who draw the sword will die by the sword. 53 Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels? 54 But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way?”
55 In that hour Jesus said to the crowd, “Am I leading a rebellion, that you have come out with swords and clubs to capture me? Every day I sat in the temple courts teaching, and you did not arrest me. 56 But this has all taken place that the writings of the prophets might be fulfilled.” Then all the disciples deserted him and fled.
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Paul admonished the Corinthians with the sound advice of 1 Corinthians 10:12 for a reason.
What Jesus so often called his “hour” has finally come. His disciples have already forsaken him, emotionally at least, in the garden. Now they physically scatter, and Jesus is abandoned. His ordeal has begun. Our over-familiarity with the story should not blind us to the fact that every response his disciples made back then is repeated by his disciples today. Like Peter, we cannot believe that we could forsake our Lord. “Surely not I!” we say, like all twelve disciples at the Last Supper (25); but, like them, not all of us are always correct about ourselves and our motivations. How many Christians today, whether obscure or prominent, consciously or unconsciously betray their Lord under a mask of well-meaning but false sincerity? Who among us has never made a self-serving choice?
At the beginning of his ministry, Jesus totally rejected the use of his power for his own benefit. Here he urges non-violence to his disciples, whose instinct is to meet violence with violence. They actually have swords with them! Knowing no other way of dealing with an angry mob, their next instinct is to flee. Random aggression, an out-of-hand herd-like mentality, and the injustice of crowds incited to violence against others are still with us today, especially in politically or religiously divided communities. Christians facing violent opposition in some countries today still struggle to find another way, i.e., a path between meeting violence with violence, or going into hiding, or even denying their beliefs. Those of us who live in more tolerant communities should not too hastily judge those who, like the disciples, know neither how to make the right choice nor even what the right choice is, especially when faced with sudden violence. In our safer communities, we still know what it is to run away from what we should do in times of pressure or panic.
When a public promise is made, those of us making the promise should consider all possible impediments, especially when it involves a stand for the sake of the Gospel.
Lord, we pray for all Your people today tempted to deny or disown You. May they know Your presence, helping them to choose rightly.