Day 4: The Price of Betrayal
Take a Break
Make It Personal
We know more about Jesus’ final week and his journey to the cross than any other point in his life, and for good reason. That said, we have no idea what he and the disciples were up to on Wednesday. None of the four gospel writers give us any information about this day of the Passion Week. But we can be sure of one thing: a plot was already in motion to put an end to Jesus. The Jewish leaders and authorities had been pushed past their breaking point with this supposed Messiah, prophet, and troublemaker. All they needed was the right moment. And the opportunity would be provided by none other than one of Jesus’ closest friends, Judas Iscariot.
Judas, we have to imagine, had been disappointed in Jesus for a while. He thought he had signed up to serve a conquering king. He wanted the overthrow of the Roman Empire. He longed for revolution. Instead, Jesus spent his time teaching poor villages in the hillsides of Galilee about the Kingdom of God, sharing meals with tax collectors and sinners, and healing people of various maladies and illnesses. The final straw for Judas was when Mary ‘wasted’ her expensive perfume on Jesus. “Think of all the soldiers and swords we could have purchased instead,” he might have been thinking. Whatever the case, Jesus didn’t meet his expectations and, embittered by disappointment, he decided to do something about it.
For thirty pieces of silver, Judas initiated the greatest betrayal in human history, but he was only the first player to act. Peter denied Jesus three times. The disciples all abandoned him. The religious leaders held an illegal trial. The crowds that had cheered for him just days ago transformed into a chorus of condemnation with cries of “Crucify Him!” On Wednesday, nobody knew it yet, but the wheels of an inevitable conclusion had already begun to spin. Perhaps Jesus summed it up best. As he was finally arrested in the garden, he said, “Your moment has come at last, and so has the power of darkness.” (Luke 22:53)
The meditation for today is what Christians have historically called the “prayer of examen.” Prayerfully, we invite God to search the depths of our hearts and reveal to us what He sees. This is not a moment of apology or defense. It is not the time to suppress, repress, or deny our shortcomings. It is, rather, an occasion of “open heart” surgery, or cooperative self-examination with God. Your Heavenly Father knows what to do with your hurts and disappointments, so give them over to Him. Your Father can handle your accusations and frustrations, so turn them over to His care. He is not surprised by your sin, so no need trying to hide it from Him or yourself.
Make It Stick
Part of the point of the prayer of examen is to provide us with the clarity necessary for confession and repentance. In other words, the best confessions are not general and vague, but pointed and specific. So, consider breaking open a journal and writing down, very specifically, what you desire to confess. Once confessed you could burn the paper, tear it, or nail it to a tree as a symbolic reminder that you are forgiven. Or, perhaps you’ll want to call an accountability partner/trusted friend and share what God has revealed to you. Not only can they hear your confession, but they can assure you of God’s justness and faithfulness to forgive you of that sin through Jesus. (1 John 1:9)
Cleaning day!! Grab some spray bottles and washrags and clean the house together (or a room, if that’s too ambitious). Talk to your kids about the symbolism. While we can clean and purify the inside of our homes, only God can clean and purify the inside of our hearts.
Today, we are encouraging students to explore the same practices in the “Make it Stick” section above. This will likely be something your student wants to do alone (or with a friend), but perhaps your family can find a way to celebrate or encourage one another in the free and full forgiveness of sin we all enjoy through Jesus.