The Wild Places Bible Guide – 27
April 16, 2019
Tuesday, April 16
Matthew 14:10-26 (CEB)
10 Judas Iscariot, one of the Twelve, went to the chief priests to give Jesus up to them. 11 When they heard it, they were delighted and promised to give him money. So he started looking for an opportunity to turn him in.
12 On the first day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread, when the Passover lamb was sacrificed, the disciples said to Jesus, “Where do you want us to prepare for you to eat the Passover meal?”
13 He sent two of his disciples and said to them, “Go into the city. A man carrying a water jar will meet you. Follow him. 14 Wherever he enters, say to the owner of the house, ‘The teacher asks, “Where is my guest room where I can eat the Passover meal with my disciples?”’ 15 He will show you a large room upstairs already furnished. Prepare for us there.”16 The disciples left, came into the city, found everything just as he had told them, and they prepared the Passover meal.
17 That evening, Jesus arrived with the Twelve. 18 During the meal, Jesus said, “I assure you that one of you will betray me—someone eating with me.”
19 Deeply saddened, they asked him, one by one, “It’s not me, is it?”
20 Jesus answered, “It’s one of the Twelve, one who is dipping bread with me into this bowl. 21 The Human One goes to his death just as it is written about him. But how terrible it is for that person who betrays the Human One! It would have been better for him if he had never been born.”
22 While they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed it, broke it, and gave it to them, and said, “Take; this is my body.” 23 He took a cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them, and they all drank from it. 24 He said to them, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many. 25 I assure you that I won’t drink wine again until that day when I drink it in a new way in God’s kingdom.” 26 After singing songs of praise, they went out to the Mount of Olives.
Points of Interest
- Preparation for the Passover always has been and continues to be a big deal. Clear the leaven out of your home, prepare for hospitality and feasting. The disciples and Jesus are doing this. It’s meant to be alarming that Judas is preparing for Passover by making financial arrangements for betrayal. While our jaws drop in horror, they delight in opportunity. Perhaps this is the nature of all betrayals – a song is playing that we should be listening to, even singing along, while we stridently whistle an unrelated, discordant tune.
- What a jarring meal. Jesus prepares for one of his closest students and friends to betray him. He feels and talks about all the stakes of this night. There is the waste of a life, the undying regret associated with Judas’ betrayal. And there is Jesus most pressing into his identity as the True Human (most traditionally translated “Son of Man”) as he prepares to die. It’s as if he’s aware that his death is destiny, but wishes for everyone it didn’t have to come to pass quite like this.
- And then in a moment in which I would be seized by anger and sadness, and locked in defensiveness, Jesus opens his arms and his heart to his friends, Judas included, and says, “Here I am. All that I am, all that I have is yours.” Today these words read to me like strange but holy wedding vows – take all of me!
- Covenants are somewhere between promises that involve a form of mutuality and solemnity. They’re a little like contracts, but with much more heart and soul. Traditionally, in the Near East, covenants were marked with blood as well. Jesus interprets his death on these terms – as a new way of God with people coming to pass.
- We’ll drink together again someday, Jesus says, before they sing and get up to go. Perhaps this refers to his post-resurrection feast with them on the beach, perhaps to something heavenly. I think of it as referring to the way we all can drink with Jesus as we celebrate communion, welcoming week after week Jesus’ presence and leadership.
A Direction for Prayer
Pray for your friends and family that may take communion in a church this week, that it would be to them an experience of God with them. Pray for those that don’t ever take communion, that through other means they may encounter the generous, self-giving love of God.
Spiritual Exercise of the Week
Toward Courage over Fear – If you’re up for it today, consider for a moment a great fear of yours – a failure, a loss, or trouble you might face, perhaps even your own death. Ask Jesus to assure you that Jesus will be with you should you face this fear. Ask Jesus: how will you be with me in compassion and strength? After a few moments of imaginative prayer, welcoming Jesus’ presence with you, close by praying this short excerpt from the ancient prayer, The Breastplate of Saint Patrick:
I arise today
Through the strength of Christ’s birth with his baptism,
Through the strength of Christ’s healing with his laughter,
Through the strength of Christ’s teaching with his feasting,
Through the strength of Christ’s crucifixion with his burial,
Through the strength of Christ’s resurrection with his ascension,
Through the strength of Christ’s descent for the judgment of doom.