Our Own Betrayals

Amidst the pain of betrayal in this passage emerges the knowing of a place of intimate trust which Jesus shared with his father and closest friends. This garden was his place of prayer, his safe place, his vulnerable place. Within this cocoon of intimacy, Jesus bravely faced his betrayer - his friend. This can be a painfully hard passage to enter in our prayer. Perhaps the invitation is to simply trust that such a place exists for us too in our prayer. 

John 18:1-11 (NLT)
After saying these things, Jesus crossed the Kidron Valley with his disciples and entered a grove of olive trees. 2 Judas, the betrayer, knew this place, because Jesus had often gone there with his disciples. 3 The leading priests and Pharisees had given Judas a contingent of Roman soldiers and Temple guards to accompany him. Now with blazing torches, lanterns, and weapons, they arrived at the olive grove.
4 Jesus fully realized all that was going to happen to him, so he stepped forward to meet them. “Who are you looking for?” he asked.
5 “Jesus the Nazarene,” they replied.
“I am he,” Jesus said. (Judas, who betrayed him, was standing with them.) 6 As Jesus said “I am he,” they all drew back and fell to the ground! 7 Once more he asked them, “Who are you looking for?”
And again they replied, “Jesus the Nazarene.”
8 “I told you that I am he,” Jesus said. “And since I am the one you want, let these others go.” 9 He did this to fulfill his own statement: “I did not lose a single one of those you have given me.”
10 Then Simon Peter drew a sword and slashed off the right ear of Malchus, the high priest’s slave. 11 But Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword back into its sheath. Shall I not drink from the cup of suffering the Father has given me?”

For Reflection and Prayer:
What did you hear as you listened to the text? Did a word or phrase stand out in particular? Meditate on this word, phrase or picture. Is there more God wants to say to you?

This passage might guide you to reflect on your own experience of betrayal including times when you have betrayed yourself. What do you notice inside of you as reflect? How do you most need Jesus to be with you in this moment? Take some deep breaths remembering that God’s Spirit breathes in you. Be very, very gentle with yourself and simply ask for what you need.  You might hold your own hand, or lay your hand upon your heart in your prayer as an extension of compassion towards your pain and need.

Savor any consoling words or pictures God gives you. Simply rest in God’s presence.

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The Intimacy of the Supper Table

Even in our hurried, disconnected culture today, sharing dinner with someone remains an act of intimacy. The host shares what is his or hers to give and the guests receive with gratitude, the food, drink, hospitality and conversation offered. The dinner table creates the possibility of being known. The dinner conversation between Jesus and his disciples unfolds with this very purposeful invitation to be fully known. We can feel the ache Jesus might feel as he gives each disciple freedom to choose how to respond to this gift of intimacy. Some choose to lean and linger while another chooses to flee and hide. We are given this same opportunity to choose intimacy today.

John 13:18-30 (MSG)
“I’m not including all of you in this. I know precisely whom I’ve selected, so as not to interfere with the fulfillment of this Scripture:
The one who ate bread at my table
Turned on his heel against me.
“I’m telling you all this ahead of time so that when it happens you will believe that I am who I say I am. Make sure you get this right: Receiving someone I send is the same as receiving me, just as receiving me is the same as receiving the One who sent me.”
21 After he said these things, Jesus became visibly upset, and then he told them why. “One of you is going to betray me.”
22-25 The disciples looked around at one another, wondering who on earth he was talking about. One of the disciples, the one Jesus loved dearly, was reclining against him, his head on his shoulder. Peter motioned to him to ask who Jesus might be talking about. So, being the closest, he said, “Master, who?”
26-27 Jesus said, “The one to whom I give this crust of bread after I’ve dipped it.” Then he dipped the crust and gave it to Judas, son of Simon the Iscariot. As soon as the bread was in his hand, Satan entered him.
“What you must do,” said Jesus, “do. Do it and get it over with.”
28-29 No one around the supper table knew why he said this to him. Some thought that since Judas was their treasurer, Jesus was telling him to buy what they needed for the Feast, or that he should give something to the poor.
30 Judas, with the piece of bread, left. It was night.

For Reflection and Prayer:
If there was a word, a phrase, or an image that sought your attention as you listened, stay with it and listen deeper with Jesus.
Place yourself in the story as one of the disciples. What do you notice?
If you noticed any place of tension or of ease in yourself as you listened, imagine leaning your head on Jesus’ chest and communing with him there.

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Fleeing the Presence of Jesus

In their struggle to stay present with Jesus, these beloved companions eventually surrender to sleep. Jesus roused them as his betrayer approached, and in this text we witness the progression of fleeing the presence of Jesus. First the loved ones cannot stay internally present in their prayer, now they can no longer bear the fear and shame before them. One by one, they act out compelled by fear and shame, and eventually physically flee from Jesus. In the drama, chaos and contradiction of it all, Jesus is the only one who stays present to the reality before him. That day he said to them,

"Every day I was with you"

Today, he says to us,

"I am always with you"

Would you like to bring your fear, pain and shame and be with Jesus again in this moment?

For every child of God defeats the evil world
by trusting Christ to give us the victory.

1 John 5:4

Mark 14:43-52 (NIV)
Just as he was speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, appeared. With him was a crowd armed with swords and clubs, sent from the chief priests, the teachers of the law, and the elders.

44 Now the betrayer had arranged a signal with them: “The one I kiss is the man; arrest him and lead him away under guard.” 45 Going at once to Jesus, Judas said, “Rabbi!” and kissed him. 46 The men seized Jesus and arrested him. 47 Then one of those standing near drew his sword and struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his ear.

48 “Am I leading a rebellion,” said Jesus, “that you have come out with swords and clubs to capture me? 49 Every day I was with you, teaching in the temple courts, and you did not arrest me. But the Scriptures must be fulfilled.” 50 Then everyone deserted him and fled.

51 A young man, wearing nothing but a linen garment, was following Jesus. When they seized him, 52 he fled naked, leaving his garment behind.

For Reflection and Prayer:
Did a word or phrase speak to you as you listened to or read the text? Dwell with it. Be quiet with it. Gently bring it into your conversation with Jesus.

How have you experience betrayal, even being betrayed by a "kiss'? Can you share the pain of the betrayal with Jesus? How is he with you in it?

We all move in and out of living in the awareness of Jesus' presence with us. What helps you stay present? What distracts your from his presence? When do you notice yourself compelled to flee the present moment? Be gentle and kind with yourself as you explore these themes with Jesus. Come back to a safe place with Jesus, when you become frightened by your thoughts or memories.