Last-Ditch Effort (TJL 4.1)

Thursday                                                                   Psalm 41:9; 55:1-14

Though written centuries before Jesus and Judas, the verses today speak directly two the situation at hand. In these two passages, often thought to be prophecies, the psalmist laments the betrayal of a close friend. The genius of the psalms is that they speak to the heart of the human condition, both good and bad. Jesus and Judas probably knew these passages, as faithful Jews. It’s easy to see how Jesus may have interpreted these passages, but what about Judas? How could he have felt betrayed by Jesus?

The Turn (TJL 3.6)

Wednesday                                                  Luke 22:1-6

While we cannot simply let Judas “off the hook,” it is important to note that Luke suggests that Judas’ betrayal is both the work of Judas and Satan. As some have said, “The devil made me do it.” Perhaps this is Luke’s way of saying that we don’t exactly know what drove Judas. It could have been money, or power, or disappointment, or hurt feelings from Jesus, or an attempt to get Jesus to fight back against the Romans. But in the end, Judas betrayed Jesus because of what Satan had worked in Judas’ heart. The lesson for us is that our emotions, desires, and thoughts must all be checked before God, because we, too, can unknowingly be lured by Satan to do the unthinkable.

Lord I don’t want to betray You. But I fall prey to temptation. I listen to the world even though I know You are stronger and louder than all that other noise. Help to listen. Guide me to choose You. Lead me this week into checking my heart and my actions before You. Encourage me to seek You and only You. Amen

The Turn (TJL 3.5)

Tuesday                                                       Matthew 21:11-17

Further confirming assertions that He was a revolutionary, Jesus physically clears the temple of price-gouging, Rome-serving Jews who excluded the poor from worship with raised prices on worship elements. Do you think Judas would have been given hope for a possible overthrow of Rome? Given Jesus’ violent tendencies here (John’s version even says He crafted a whip of cords!), do you think Judas might have betrayed Jesus in an attempt to force His hand toward revolution?

O God,

I know that I have tested You in the hope that You might do things my way. I have pushed for action when prayerful waiting was the answer. I’ve bargained with You in moments of fear and weakness. Forgive me for this. Take away my evil tendencies and show me Your light! Amen

The Turn (TJL 3.4)

Monday                                                        Matthew 21:1-11

Riding into Jerusalem on a donkey, Jesus made a statement to the people that He was the Messiah, the one who would deliver them. In response, the Jews gathered palm branches and waved and laid them before Jesus. Why?  When coins were minted for the last time, following the Maccabean revolt, one emblem that appeared on them was—you guessed it—palm branches! So, by gathering them, people were declaring Jesus as a revolutionary who would overthrow Rome. As Judas marched alongside Jesus, do you think he saw this and, knowing Jesus’ true heart was not for overthrowing Rome, confirmed his betrayal?

Father,

I assume to know what Your plan is. I think that I have the answers, and sometimes I even think my plan is better than Yours. Forgive me for this. Forgive me for trying to lean on my own understanding instead of Yours. Help me to see the joy of Palm Sunday and the joy and release that can be found in choosing Your path. Amen

The Turn (TJL 3.3)

Saturday                                                      Mark 9:14-29

While Peter, James, and John went with Jesus up a mountain to pray, Judas and the other disciples were left to continue Jesus’ mission. While Jesus was gone, a boy with an evil spirit was brought to Judas and the others to be healed. But for some reason they couldn’t do it. Jesus told them it is because some spirits can only be driven out by prayer and fasting, but how would you take it? Would you count it as a failure? Would you think to yourself, “I messed this up. Peter, James, and John could have done it… but not me.” Perhaps Judas felt this. Had betrayal already crossed his mind? Even if he had shaken it out of his mind for the moment, do you think the guilt of the thought could have kept him from healing the boy in need? Sin left unaddressed can affect not only our relationship with God, but also in performing His mission. What sin do you need to talk to God about today?

Lord I know that I have been tempted and I have fallen to that temptation. Help me to confess and repent to You where I have fallen short. Lead me away from sin and back into Your arms. Guide me to continue Your mission with a clean heart. Amen

The Turn (TJL 3.2)

Friday                                                          Mark 9:2-13

Jesus takes Peter, James, and John up a mountain to pray, and they are shown an extraordinary miracle: the transfiguration. Jesus’ face began to glow and the three disciples saw Jesus speaking with Moses and Elijah. Notice that Peter, James, and John were Jesus’ closest disciples and they would eventually be leaders in the church post-resurrection. Why do you think Jesus didn’t bring Judas and the others along for this important moment?  Do you think Judas’ betrayal was already afoot?

God,

Help me to believe in what You are doing. Guide me in following Your plan even when I am unsure. Even when I might be left out or brought into something that I’m not sure about. Let me see where I need to be so that I might follow You better. Amen