Reading: Matthew 26: 14-16 and 31-56
Verse 35b – And all the other disciples said the same.
Sandwiched in between Judas’ betrayal and the Garden scene in today’s reading is the institution of the Lord’s Supper. In that upper room Jesus tells the disciples that one will betray Him. It has already been arranged but all twelve still say, “Surely not I, Lord”. Jesus goes on to take the bread and the cup, knowing that all twelve will betray Him. Yes, knowing that all twelve, who have been with Him for three intimate and powerful years, would soon betray Him over and over, He still is willing to offer up His body and blood as a sacrifice for those twelve and for all of us. What love Jesus had for these disciples and what love He had for you and I. It is an amazing love.
In verse 31, Jesus again tells them that they all will fall away that very night. Jesus quotes from the book of Zechariah, telling them that the sheep will scatter as the shepherd is struck down. Peter responds that he will never fall away. After Jesus lets him know that he will deny Jesus three times that very night, Peter declares that he will die with Jesus before he disowns Him. All the others make the same vow. In verse 35 we read, “And all the other disciples said the same”.
Jesus then takes the disciples with Him to the Garden of Gethsamane and asks them to pray with Him. He takes the inner three a little farther in and asks them to keep watch because He is overwhelmed with sorrow. As Jesus prays we see His humanity as He prays, “If it is possible, may this cup be taken from me”. We also see His obedience to God as He prays, “Yet not as I will, but as You will”. As Jesus wrestles with the emotions roiling inside of Him, He finds the disciples asleep again and again. In their weakness, they are already betraying Him.
Jesus does not scold or rebuke or cast them aside. He invites them to come along, for the hour is at hand. He is arrested and indeed the disciples scatter like lost sheep. Yet Jesus will continue to walk this path, beginning the journey to the cross. He walks it for the twelve. Yes, He walks it even for Judas, the one who betrayed Him to the authorities. He walks it for each of us too. What amazing love.