The Gospel of Mark: a commentary & meditation 
"One of you will betray me"

Gospel reading: Mark 14:12-21

12 And on the first day of Unleavened Bread, when they sacrificed the passover lamb, his disciples said to him, "Where will you have us go and prepare for you to eat the passover?" 13 And he sent two of his disciples, and said to them, "Go into the city, and a man carrying a jar of water will meet you; follow him, 14 and wherever he enters, say to the householder, `The Teacher says, Where is my guest room, where I am to eat the passover with my disciples?' 15 And he will show you a large upper room furnished and ready; there prepare for us." 16 And the disciples set out and went to the city, and found it as he had told them; and they prepared the passover. 17 And when it was evening he came with the twelve. 18 And as they were at table eating, Jesus said, "Truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me, one who is eating with me." 19 They began to be sorrowful, and to say to him one after another, "Is it I?" 20 He said to them, "It is one of the twelve, one who is dipping bread into the dish with me. 21 For the Son of man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! It would have been better for that man  if he had not been born."

Meditation: Do you celebrate the Passover with sincerity and truth (see 1 Cor. 5:7-8)?  Every male Jew, who was of age and lived within 15 miles of Jerusalem, was bound to celebrate Passover every year in Jerusalem.  This annual feast commemorated the deliverance of the people of Israel from their slavery in Egypt (see Exodus 12).  On that night the angel of death slew the first-born of the Egyptians; but he "passed over" the homes of the Israelites, because the lintel of their doors was smeared with the blood of an unblemished lamb sacrificed for the occasion.  It was at Passover time that Jesus came to Jerusalem knowing he would be betrayed and put to death as the "Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world" (John 1:29). Jesus fulfilled the Passover.  His death and resurrection, which occured at Passover time, redeems us from enslavement to sin, death, Satan, and the world.  His blood, like the blood of the first Passover lamb, protects God's people from the angel of death and breaks the oppressive rule of Satan. Easter is the Christian Passover (1 Cor. 5:7-8).

As Jesus ate the passover meal with his twelve apostles he put them under trial and suspicion ("one of you will betray me") to teach them to examine themselves rightly, lest they be highminded and think themselves more strong than they were. We, also must examine ourselves in the light of God's truth and grace and ask him to strengthen us in faith, hope, and love that we may not fail him or forsake him when we are tempted. Do you pray with confidence in the words Jesus gave us to pray: Do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil?

Why did Judas betray his Master? Was his treachery motivated by greed, bitter disappointment with Jesus or hatred because of disillusionment?  It may be that Judas never intended for his Master to die.  Maybe he thought Jesus was proceeding too slowly and not acting aggressively enough in setting up his messianic kingdom.  Perhaps Judas wanted to force Jesus' hand by compelling him to act.  Nonetheless, his tragedy was his refusal to accept Jesus as he was.  Aren't we tempted to use God for our own purposes? It is not God who must change, but we must be changed by him.  Jesus knew beforehand what would befall him.  Just as God can use any individual as his instrument, so can Satan, his arch-enemy and our adversary.  We can either be an instrument of good or of evil, and a servant of God or of Satan.  The choice is ours.  Who has free entrance into the door of your life?

"God our Father, we are exceedingly frail and indisposed to every virtuous and gallant undertaking.  Strengthen our weakness, we beseech you, that we may do valiantly in this spiritual war; help us against our own negligence and cowardice, and defend us from the treachery of our unfaithful hearts; for Jesus Christ's sake." (Prayer of Thomas a Kempis)

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 (c) 2001 Don Schwager