Our series Crossroads began with a challenge to lay our burdens at the foot of the cross.
Holy Week began with a look at noise versus praise, and yesterday we saw Jesus’ example of how we can respond when faced with temptations in our lives.
We explored the tension between healing and what appears to be our unanswered prayers. And yesterday, we saw how Jesus cared for and fed His sheep – physically and spiritually.
As we move closer to the cross, it won’t be long before the sounds of praise and jubilation are replaced with the sounds of nails splintering flesh and wood.
The road to the cross goes through heartbreak, denial, and betrayal.
It all starts in an upper room with a meal. Jesus asks two of His disciples to go and inquire about a guest room from a man carrying a water jar.1
They do as He says and begins preparing the Passover meal. Once Jesus arrives with the others, they spend time fellowship together.
Food brings people together, and Jesus wanted one last meal with all His disciples. As they are relaxing and fellowshipping together, Jesus drops a zinger on them.2
“Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me – one who is eating with me.” – Mark 14:18
Imagine a room going from lively conversation to dead silence in a matter of a second; Jesus had accomplished it.
Each of the disciples looked around and began to ask if it was them. Jesus looked at one specifically and says,
“It is one of the Twelve…one who dips bread into the bowl with me.” – Mark 14:20
The last supper narrative is where Jesus illustrates how His body will be broken and His blood spilled out for our sins. Today, we call it communion.
While still in the upper room, Jesus calls out Peter specifically and says that he will deny Jesus three times before the rooster would crow in the morning.
Peter, obviously upset, says to Jesus that he would never deny him.3 Hold that thought for a few moments.
At some point during the meal, the “betrayer” exits the scene in preparation for his command performance. The betrayer had offered the religious leaders the opportunity they were looking for – Jesus delivered to them.
For thirty pieces of silver, the betrayer would deliver Jesus to them. Tonight was the night of such betrayal.
Jesus took the disciples to the Garden of Gethsemane, where He asked them to do one small thing – sit and pray. He then brought Peter, James, and John a little further and said to them,4
“My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch.” – Mark 14:34
Jesus went further still to commune and talk with His Father. He knew what was next…death on a cross, and He asked for it to be removed from Him, but if it was not the will of the Father, He would continue.5
Jesus goes back, and the disciples are sleeping. He went back and prayed some more and then came back to find the disciples sleeping again – three times in total.6
After the third time, a crowd of men led by the betrayer, Judas Iscariot, came to get Jesus and take Him away. Judas comes in close to Jesus and kisses him – the kiss of betrayal.7
Over the next several hours, Jesus is arrested and brought before the religious leaders, including false testimony from people.
The high priest asks him, “Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?”8
“I am” – Mark 14:62
Remember when Peter said he would never deny Christ? Here’s where we pick up the story.
Peter had been following Jesus back to the courtyard of the high priest. He slips into the courtyard and to a warm fire, but nothing prepared him for the intense questioning from a servant girl.
He wanted to stay hidden, but this young girl was inquisitive. She addressed him and said you must be with Jesus. He denied it. Denial number one.
She told those standing around her that Peter was with Jesus. Peter denied it again. Denial number two.
Soon those around Peter said you have to be one of his followers; you are a Galilean. Peter swears and denies Jesus. Denial number three.
Then, the rooster crows twice, and he remembers Jesus’ words and breaks down and cries.9
Heartbreak, Denial, and Betrayal
Have you ever experienced heartbreak, denial, and betrayal? One of these things is bad enough. Many people experience heartbreak in relationships. They love someone, but the other doesn’t love them back.
What about friendships? How many friendships have dissolved because of heartbreak or betrayal?
I have been hurt by friendships and relationships. The sting of hurt and heartbreak never fully goes away, but we can release it to the Lord.
Will you release it to Him, or will you hang on to your hurt and pain?
When we choose to surrender our heartbreak, denial, betrayal, pain or hurt, we tell God we are ready to stop running and allow Him to mold us into who He wants us to be.
It’s not easy to get to the point of surrender. It can take years or decades to happen, and in many cases, it never happens.
Today, as you reflect on the last supper, Peter’s denial, and Judas’ betrayal, where do you see yourself in this narrative? Are you a bystander or are you Peter or even Judas?
The best part of this story is how God allows U-turns. Peter denied Jesus three times but would go on to plant churches and proclaim the message of Christ.
Peter’s story is not much different than ours. The question you have to answer is whether you are ready to surrender your heartache, denial, betrayal or hurt to a God who loves you.
Take time to think about what Jesus did as well as the others. If it helps, write it down or talk it over with a friend.
Tomorrow is Good Friday, and we head to the cross and ask if hope died on the cross this day.
Lord, our hearts can be bogged down with hurt, pain, heartbreak, denial, or betrayal, but Your Son showed us that you allow U-turns in our lives. I ask you to show us grace and mercy as we work through our pain towards a heart of surrender. Please meet each person where they are at to help guide them to You this Easter season. Amen!
- Holy Week 2021 series
- Mark 14:13 ↩︎
- Mark 14:16-17 ↩︎
- Mark 14:27-31 ↩︎
- Mark 14:32-33 ↩︎
- Mark 14:35-36 ↩︎
- Mark 14:37-41 ↩︎
- Mark 14:46 ↩︎
- Mark 14:53-61 ↩︎
- Mark 14:66-72 ↩︎