17 When evening came, he arrived with the Twelve. 18 While they were reclining and 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 by one, “Surely not I?”
20 He said to them, “It is one of the Twelve—the one who is dipping bread in the bowl with me. 21 For the Son of Man will go just as it is written about him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for him if he had not been born.”
22 As they were eating, he took bread, blessed and broke it, gave it to them, and said, “Take it; this is my body.” 23 Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks, he 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 Truly I tell you, I will no longer drink of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.”
26 After singing a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.
27 Then Jesus said to them, “All of you will fall away, because it is written:
I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.
We often talk of Peter’s denials and Thomas’ doubts. We talk about Judas’ betrayal and Satan’s rebellion. We talk about the skepticism of our atheistic neighbors. We talk of the willful, open, unrepentant sin of those among us going their own way—going against our God. Jesus said, “One of you will betray me… but all of you will fall away.” And after the Roman authorities had made their arrest, Mark’s gospel records the response of Jesus’ most faithful followers: “Then they all deserted him and ran away” (14:50). They all scattered, save for a few precious women watching from a distance (15:40-47).
“Then they all deserted him and ran away”
And you would too, would you not? Imagine the whole world turned against you. You’re no longer welcome at your church. The governing authorities are hunting you down with warrants for your arrest. And the Bible teacher you’ve lived with, traveled with, shared life with for the past three years has been brutally tortured and murdered without cause. Justice perverted, an unfair trial was held, and a righteous man’s life was snuffed out. And you’d have just cause to run: This man had just told you, as we saw yesterday, to “flee to the mountains” (13:14).
Justice perverted, an unfair trial was held, and a righteous man’s life was snuffed out.
“All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; And the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:6 NKJV). In truth, we betray our Lord daily by our actions. Ask yourself: Who killed Jesus? Was it the Pharisees? the Sanhedrin? the state of Rome? We sing, “It was my sin that held him there, until it was accomplished.” We are the Christ’s betrayers, his accusers, his doubters, his daily-deniers. Paul writes, “While we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son,” in Romans 5:10. Why would the Living God, King of the Universe, send his only Son to die for us?
“I cannot give an answer / But this I know with all my heart / His wounds have paid my ransom” (from How Deep The Father's Love For Us, Stuart Townend, 1995).