Mark 14:17 When it was evening, he came with the twelve. 18 And when they had taken their places and were eating, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me, one who is eating with me.” 19 They began to be distressed and to say to him one after another, “Surely, not I?” 20 He said to them, “It is one of the twelve, one who is dipping bread into the bowl with me. 21 For the Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that one by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that one not to have been born.”
For many years I’ve been perplexed by this passage. It almost seems to me that Jesus is being coy here. He clearly knows one of his disciples will betray him, but he doesn’t come out and name who that person is. He says “one who is eating with me” and “one who is dipping bread into the bowl with me”. When I’ve read this I’ve thought, “Well look who is dipping bread into the bowl and you’ll know who the betrayer is!” But then there’s v.26
26 When they had sung the hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. 27 And Jesus said to them, “You will all become deserters; for it is written, ‘I will strike the shepherd,
and the sheep will be scattered.’
Yes, one of the 12 disciples (Judas) was the one who went to the high priests and agreed to hand Jesus over for a price. But the fact is they all abandoned him – not just Judas. They all swore they would stand beside Jesus to the end but didn’t. In the moment of truth, Jesus’ closest disciples let him down.
Jesus’ disciples weren’t bad people, they were just human.
I’m thinking about both sides of that equation today. I’m thinking about people I’ve disappointed and let down. There have definitely been some of those. I’m not proud of it, but it’s true. I like to be the sort of person who is available to those around me in tough times. I’m wondering, “Who needs me right now? What should I be doing about that?”
I’m also thinking about people who have let me down over the years. There have definitely been some of those too. I wonder if I may be harboring unforgiveness in my heart for some of these people. That’s a dangerous thing, but it’s easy to do.
Lord Jesus, I’m sure I’ve let you down many times over the years. Like the original disciples, I’ve had good intentions to be faithful but have fallen short in critical moments. Give me grace to do better in times of truth, when I’m needed most. Amen.