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March 18, 2017: Betrayal

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Today’s Bible Reading: Deuteronomy 9-12Psalm 65Matthew 26:57-75Romans 11:25-38

Matthew 26:57-75:

In an illegal court, the high priest gathers to bring false accusations against Jesus to be able to take him to the Roman governors to ensure he is crucified. Peter follows at a distance (26:58). Many false witnesses come to accuse Jesus, but nothing wrong can be found (26:59-60). Jesus, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, is himself sinless and pure. The high priest, in desperation, asks him directly, and with religious force, to tell them whether he is the Christ, the Son of God (26:63). Jesus puts the words back on his lips: “You have said so” (26:64). In the high priest’s accusation there is truth. He is pointing out that their driving towards charges against him in the end rests on their opposition to his central claim to be their, and the world’s, Messiah, the Son of God. But the priest, of course, interprets this as blasphemy (26:65). Jesus, to them a mere man, is claiming to be God. So they start to beat him up, spit on him, mercilessly mock him: Christ, prophesy to us! (26:67-68). They are like schoolyard bullies turning on their victim.

The irony, of course, is that for all their wickedness, the very thing that they are charging Jesus with is the same thing that Peter will deny. “I do not know what you mean” (26:70). He denies Jesus three times, and then, as Jesus predicted, the cock crows (26:74). Peter remembered what Jesus had said about how he would deny Jesus, and he goes out of the courtyard and weeps bitterly (26:75).

All this looks like a giant failure. Yet it is the foolishness of the cross which is the power of God. We—wicked, bad, sinners, worms that we are—can find healing at this moment of crucifixion. It is for us. It is for our sins. It means that we can be accepted by God on Christ’s behalf, who died, was mocked, and was crucified for us. Even if we betrayed Jesus.

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