As we follow Jesus through the third full day after coming to Jerusalem, and after a very full on day yesterday of teaching and being questioned in the temple, there is very little recorded about what happened on the Wednesday. Maybe Jesus took the day to rest up as he knew this was going to be his last opportunity to do so.
At the end of his teaching yesterday, recorded in Matthew 24 & 25, Jesus gave the people a warning about his return and how they should be ready. Through the pictures of several different illustrations he showed what would happen for those that lived for themselves, that were not prepared for his coming and those that did not invest in his work. They would, as Jesus says a couple of times, be cast into eternal punishment where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. So how are we living in these days? Are we prepared, living for God, and investing our lives in him and his work? Jesus makes it clear; we need to be ready. We don’t know when he is coming back, but it could be very soon. This was the last time Jesus spoke to the people publicly and so there is great significance in these parting words. If this was your last day to hear from Jesus, how would you have responded? Would you believe in him or would you want him crucified for not living up to what you had wanted him to do for you?
READ LUKE 22:1-6 (also in Matthew 26:1-16 and Mark 14:1-11)
Matthew and Mark include almost an identical text to that of Luke but also include a story about Jesus feet being anointed with oil by Mary. John places this story before the triumphant entry into Jerusalem and most scholars believe this is most likely when it happened. Matthew and Mark probably place it here to contrast Mary’s devotion to Jesus with the betrayal of Judas. John highlights that it was Judas who got annoyed with Mary for “wasting” the expensive oil on Jesus, further adding to the contrast of heart.
The religious leaders wanted Jesus dead and the sooner the better, but they didn’t want to do it during the Passover as they knew how popular Jesus was, and thought it would start a riot if they arrested him. They were trying to figure out a way to do it secretly and they were just delighted when Judas gave them that way. I can just imagine the smirk on their faces and the talk in the room as they cheered and high fived each other… well maybe not that, they were way too classy for that!
How could Judas do this, betraying the one he had followed and served for so long? I think Luke gives us a bit of an idea. Judas had let satan take hold of him and the greed and trap of money that the devil loves to use in people still today, drove Judas to desire possessions more than desiring God. I think this a very real reminder than any of us can be pursued and give in to the devils, sometimes relentless, prods to do what he wants. We need to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus and everyday wake up and seek God, spending time with him. This reminds me of two great verses in 1 Peter, “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings. (1 Peter 5:8-9)
Are you standing strong today? How is your faith in God? If its even a little bit shaky, then maybe you need to get on your knees, draw near to him, praying for his strength to overcome the pressures of the world and the temptations that come your way. I know this is something I must do regularly as I am often very aware of the prowling lion, satan, wanted to devour me and pull me away from my Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ and my Father in Heaven. Look to Jesus, don’t give in. God is more powerful and will overcome if we keep trusting him.