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Maunday Thursday, Matthew 26:47-56 by Isaiah Thomas

 The Ojays once sang, 

“All the time they want to take your place

The back stabbers (back stabbers)

(They smilin' in your face)”

I am convinced that no one knew the pain of these words more than Jesus. The events of this passage comes on the heels of the Last Supper, as well as Jesus washing the disciples’ feet AND His high priestly prayer (based on John’s account). For all of the time and love Jesus gave to His disciples, it would culminate in desertion and betrayal on their part. Even worse still, Jesus knew it would happen, and He told them it would happen.

We all would probably agree that the main antagonist in this passage is Judas. However, that is fairly obvious. Let us draw our attention to the other disciples. What we have here is essentially another episode in “The Disciples Just Don’t Get It” (see the previous devotional on Mark 14:3-9 for that reference). As I read this passage, I couldn’t help but ask, “when did Jesus ever teach anything that would make any of the disciples think that attacking someone with a sword was cool?” On this passage, Pastor Albert Tate says, “When the disciples thought one way, Jesus operated in another. When Peter chose violence, Jesus chose love.” That is what the world does - it chooses violence. The attacks on the Asian community prove that point, painfully. Furthermore, this whole passage is a strong warning to us as Jesus’ disciples that we are not above committing the sin of choosing violence, or committing any sin for that matter. Nor are we above misunderstanding. We should also be careful to not think that we would do better than Peter or the disciples. How many times in the past 4 years have we seen news reports of some organization/political figure/ ideological movement and thought ill of, felt anger towards, and/or insulted the people associated with the things we disagree with? How many times have we ourselves felt stabbed in the back by those we thought to be allies, and felt enraged towards them? We know from the Sermon on the Mount that such things are counted with the command to not murder (Matt. 5:21-22). I know I certainly have had to come down from my anger or frustration with many people, even in just the past few weeks in light of all of the recorded violence against the Asian community. I am not Jesus here, but I am Peter. I am the one who makes assumptions and rash decisions, only to lead to pain. I am the one who needs Jesus to correct my course.

Pastor Albert Tate goes on to say of this passage, “Holy week is not about our ‘personal savior.’ It’s about God’s plan to be savior to the world. The Cross is bigger than just our personal salvation, but the salvation of even those we consider enemies. He calls us to be more loving, forgiving, and gentle than we care to be. So the question is: Am I standing in the way of Jesus? Or am I walking in the way of Jesus?”

And what is the way of Jesus? His way led to the Cross, where God enacted His ultimate justice, which opens the way for our salvation. His way led to a laying down of His own life, so that we might live with Him in eternity. His way was to break down walls of hostility in a world that only chooses violence, and build peace instead. So, I will ask of myself, and to you the reader, are we standing in the way of God? Or are we walking in the way of God? 



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