Psalm of Praise: Psalms 119:17-18
Be good to your servant while I live,
that I may obey your word.
Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law.
Bible Reading: Matthew 26:47-56
While he was still speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, arrived.
With him was a large crowd armed with swords and clubs,
sent from the chief priests and the elders of the people.
Now the betrayer had arranged a signal with them: "The one I kiss is the man; arrest him."
Going at once to Jesus, Judas said, "Greetings, Rabbi!" and kissed him.
Jesus replied, "Do what you came for, friend."
Then the men stepped forward, seized Jesus and arrested him.
Then all the disciples deserted him and fled.
Billy Ocean sang the words, ‘When the going gets tough the tough get going.’ I think, as far as the disciples were concerned, when the going got tough everybody got going, but not in the way Billy Ocean meant. The disciples certainly didn’t cover themselves in glory at the time!
Looking at their various failings, they all fell asleep when Jesus asked them to watch and pray, Judas betrayed him, the other eleven deserted him when he was arrested and, the following day, Peter went on to deny he even knew Jesus as he disowned him in the courtyard. How do you think Jesus would have felt?
Betrayal, desertion and disowning are all painful things to happen to someone. I wonder if you have ever been hurt in this way. How did you feel about the person who hurt you? How did you feel about yourself?
And I wonder how the disciples might have felt about their actions later on. Would they feel guilty and full of remorse, or would they just be grateful they had saved their own skins? Maybe there is someone you have hurt through betrayal, desertion or disowned. I wonder how you felt at the time, and how you feel about it now.
After situations like this it is easy to think there is no way back, that the relationships can never be restored. For one of the disciples this was the case; Judas turned away and took his own life. But for the other eleven forgiveness and restoration happened. In various places and at different times, the resurrected Jesus went on to meet with all of them, sometimes in large groups, sometimes in small groups, sometimes one to one. Suicide isn’t the way to deal with our failings.
Through forgiveness and reconciliation relationships are not just restored, they flourish. The disciples went on to serve Jesus faithfully through many difficult situations in the early church.
If there are relationships in your life that need to be restored don’t underestimate what God can do through forgiveness and reconciliation once someone takes the first step.
Lord Jesus, help me to keep short accounts in my relationships, and give me the grace to forgive, and the courage to seek forgiveness.
You have shown me favour unending