Monday, March 29, 2010

"Betrayed and Denied" - My Article in the Southside Messenger

Spirit & Truth # 174
“Betrayed and Denied”

By Rev. Greg Smith

It was meant to be. There was no getting around it. Jesus was destined for the cross. In Gethsemane, Jesus prayed, “Let this cup pass from me,” yet he realized that it wasn’t His will that mattered. So he also told His Father, “Not My will, but Yours be done.”

Facing an inevitable crucifixion, what Jesus needed most were good friends to lend their comfort and care. Yet that was not what he found in his disciples. “Watch and pray,” he told them as he went off to pray alone in the garden. Yet when he returned to them he found them asleep at their post. What a disappointment his friends could be! And that was only the beginning.

Waking up with a start, his disciples realized too late that a squadron of temple guards was upon them, armed with swords and clubs and torches, ready to arrest their Lord. Those who had been sent to make the arrest could not identify which one was Jesus. That situation was soon remedied when the betrayer Judas, one of Jesus’ twelve closest friends, identified his Lord by greeting him with a kiss. Betrayed with a kiss! How could it get any worse? The scripture says that in his remorse, Judas went out and hanged himself.

Peter took Jesus’ betray from bad to worse, in two ways. First, he drew his sword and violently attacked one of the men who were sent to arrest Jesus. With that aggressive act, he completely violated all the teaching he had received from the Prince of Peace. The disciples all scattered into the night when their Master was taken into custody, but Peter followed at a safe distance. While he was warming his hands by the fire, Peter was accused three times of being a follower of Jesus, and three times he denied even knowing his Lord. Scripture says that when he realized what he’d done, he went out and wept bitterly.

I’m glad I’m not the one who denied Jesus. Aren’t you glad you’re not the one who betrayed the Lord?

Before we get too self-satisfied, though, we need to hold the magnifying glass to ourselves. I betray the Lord every time I commit a sin, every time I sell my allegiance to Jesus for thirty pieces of silver, or whatever I hold to be more precious than Him at the moment. I deny the Lord every time I choose to be anonymous, rather than standing up and being counted as a follower of Christ. Yet while I weep bitterly over my sin as Peter did, I do not allow my guilt to lead to self-destructive tendencies like Judas. You see, unlike Judas, I have heard the words that Jesus said from the cross:

“Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” No words could be more beautiful than “Father, forgive them.” In these words we have hope. These words can take a betrayer like me and a denier like you, and give us eternal life.

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