Monday 3rd April
Luke 22:1-6 Judas Betrays Jesus
Now the Festival of Unleavened Bread, called the Passover, was approaching, 2 and the chief priests and the teachers of the law were looking for some way to get rid of Jesus, for they were afraid of the people. 3 Then Satan entered Judas, called Iscariot, one of the Twelve. 4 And Judas went to the chief priests and the officers of the temple guard and discussed with them how he might betray Jesus. 5 They were delighted and agreed to give him money. 6 He consented, and watched for an opportunity to hand Jesus over to them when no crowd was present.
Judas is a tricky character to unpack, and I often park him on the “I don’t know” shelf. Did God ordain and predestine Judas to betray Jesus? Can he really be blamed? Would the crucifixion have happened without him? But before our heads melt with questions of predestination let’s just stick with the heart of the matter. The main theme that Judas brings to the table is betrayal. Betrayal comes in many forms, so perhaps for a while try and engage your heart with that theme? Have you ever been betrayed? A friendship perhaps, a family member, a colleague or church? Being let down or betrayed can be a crushing experience and can leave you wounded.
But why Judas and Jesus and why did he have to be betrayed? In order for the Son of God to save us out of the depths of our fallenness, He had to experience the fullness of human tragedy, including betrayal and abandonment from those closest to Him. In order to assume the fullness of human life and suffering, Jesus had to assume betrayal as well. He had to become the victim of the ultimate act of betrayal, one which would lead to his terrible suffering and humiliating death.
Jesus really does knows what you are going through. And please don’t hear that in a glib or patronising way. Allow it to seep into your heart. He is familiar with your pain and yet he did not sin (Heb 4:15). Allow this to sink in for a while as you lift your wounds to him in prayer.
Tuesday 4th April
Luke 22:14-16 Passover Meal
14 When the hour came, Jesus and his apostles reclined at the table. 15 And he said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. 16 For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God.”
Isn’t it fascinating that Jesus shares a Passover meal with his disciples in these final moments leading to the most mind-blowing event in history. A meal of bread, wine, roast lamb and some herbs. A simple yet sacred act of breaking bread with the ones he loves. And let’s remember those “ones” are rough and ready disciples who are full of potential yet full of mistakes. Why did Jesus do this? What is so special about eating together?
At Glasgow City Mission we eat together in lots of different ways. Whether it is a simple snack at the Child and Family Centre, a hot meal at the Drop-in or a cup of tea and biscuit with someone in crisis. Take some time to reflect on these simple acts of breaking bread together. What makes them sacred? How can we become more aware of Jesus’ presence as we do these things today?
Wednesday 5th April
Luke 22:39-46 Jesus Prays on the Mount of Olives
39 Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed him. 40 On reaching the place, he said to them, “Pray that you will not fall into temptation.” 41 He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, 42 “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” 43 An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. 44 And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.[c]
45 When he rose from prayer and went back to the disciples, he found them asleep, exhausted from sorrow. 46 “Why are you sleeping?” he asked them. “Get up and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.”
Yesterday we reflected on the significance of the meal that Jesus had with his disciples in the final moments leading to his death and resurrection. Today is another significant moment – a moment of prayer. If you asked me to sign up to eat meals for Jesus I would not think twice, but what about signing up to a commitment of regular prayer!
“Get up and pray so that you will not fall into temptation!” Jesus’ instruction is pretty direct here. Sometimes we need someone to speak to us directly. Spend some time in prayer today. Spend it like it’s a meal you need to eat in order to get through this day. Prayer can be a time where you open your heart, mind and soul before your Father. Sit in his presence and allow his goodness to flow. Attention span, distractions and tiredness can all get in the way but with practice and perseverance it is possible over time to build an appetite of prayer.
Thursday 6th April
Luke 22:60-62 Peter Denies Jesus
60 Peter replied, “Man, I don’t know what you’re talking about!” Just as he was speaking, the rooster crowed. 61 The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word the Lord had spoken to him: “Before the rooster crows today, you will disown me three times.” 62 And he went outside and wept bitterly.
Jesus is betrayed by Judas and denied by Peter. Talk about a rubbish group of friends! Yet if we admit it, in many ways, we regularly let down Jesus with the bend of our hearts towards sin. Both Judas and Peter seem overwhelmed with remorse and guilt. Judas throws the 30 pieces of silver back into the temple and turns away in isolation to his ultimate death. Peter wept bitterly but stayed with his fellow community of grieving disciples. Peter couldn’t fix his own guilt and was helplessly stuck in his sin, yet he stayed connected with his community of believers. Jesus then approached Peter in the days following his resurrection and forgave and healed Peter in his broken state. A community of believers can be a holding ground that ultimately saves lives.
Judas chose isolation in his state of guilt, whereas Peter stayed connected even in his brokenness. Do you need a community around you just now? Who are the guilty or broken people you could draw in and present before Jesus? Pray for yourself and others today who are broken by sin and need a community to hold them so they can encounter Jesus.
Good Friday 7th April
Luke 22:63-65 The Guards Mock Jesus
63 The men who were guarding Jesus began mocking and beating him. 64 They blindfolded him and demanded, “Prophesy! Who hit you?” 65 And they said many other insulting things to him.
Jesus takes it all. He takes a beating, he is mocked, he is insulted.
The Father had to watch. To see his precious Son beaten and mocked. Any parent would tell you that their blood would be boiling and their heart would be breaking in such a situation.
The Spirit remained silent and still. The Spirit that can burn like fire and prophesy the wonders of God did not say a word in this moment.
God takes it all in humility, in silence and with supreme self-control. My only response to this is to stand in awe.
Saturday 8th April
Luke 23:55-56 They Rested on the Sabbath
55 The women who had come with Jesus from Galilee followed Joseph and saw the tomb and how his body was laid in it. 56 Then they went home and prepared spices and perfumes. But they rested on the Sabbath in obedience to the commandment.
A day of Sabbath. A day when all of Jesus’ followers knew nothing, were silenced and afraid. A day Jesus body lay motionless. A day of darkness and despair. A day of resting in sadness and the unknown. But tomorrow…
Easter Sunday 9th April
Luke 24:1-8 Jesus is Risen
On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. 2 They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, 3 but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. 4 While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. 5 In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? 6 He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: 7 ‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’ ” 8 Then they remembered his words.
““Why do you look for the living among the dead? 6 He is not here; he has risen!”
Amen and hallelujah! Happy Easter to you all. God Bless.