By Dawn Holt Lauber
Lectionary reading for 4/9/2022: Psalm 31:9-16; Leviticus 23:1-8; Luke 22:1-13
Selected passage for reflection: Luke 22:1-13
Luke 22:1-13 (NIV)
Judas Agrees to Betray Jesus
Now the Festival of Unleavened Bread, called the Passover, was approaching, and the chief priests and the teachers of the law were looking for some way to get rid of Jesus, for they were afraid of the people.
Then Satan entered Judas, called Iscariot, one of the Twelve. And Judas went to the chief priests and the officers of the temple guard and discussed with them how he might betray Jesus. They were delighted and agreed to give him money. He consented and watched for an opportunity to hand Jesus over to them when no crowd was present.
The Last Supper
Then came the day of Unleavened Bread on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed. Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, “Go and make preparations for us to eat the Passover.”
“Where do you want us to prepare for it?” they asked. He replied, “As you enter the city, a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him to the house that he enters, and say to the owner of the house, ‘The Teacher asks: Where is the guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’ He will show you a large room upstairs, all furnished. Make preparations there.”
They left and found things just as Jesus had told them. So, they prepared the Passover.
Jerusalem. Bustling. Full of energy. The streets teeming with families in town to observe Passover. They have come to Jerusalem with hope, seeking the Messiah. Many are already familiar with the itinerant preacher, Jesus, whose teachings have been answering these Messiah-longings.
But there are others, chief priests, scholars, notable leaders in the community who feel threatened by Jesus. His teachings undermine their authority and upset the status quo. They have been looking for ways to silence him, but Jesus’ popularity with the people has left them powerless and afraid to make a move. Until Judas. Judas solves this problem for the religious leaders when he promises to quietly deliver Jesus to them, without fanfare or attention.
Judas’ motivation for betraying Jesus may never be fully known, but Luke includes a clue through these words: Then Satan entered Judas. It is a rather chilling statement. Judas is not a robot, of course. Each one of us must take responsibility for our choices and actions, and Judas must take responsibility for his decision to go to the chief priests and consent to hand Jesus over to them. We also recognize how Satan sees in Judas an eager and willing ally in his war against Jesus. Satan - the adversary, the accuser, the tempter – is the true enemy of Jesus, not Judas.
But the outcome of their intentions does not go as expected. Satan’s desire to eliminate Jesus, and the desire of Judas and the chief priests to silence Jesus, in fact, does the opposite. Seeking to defeat Jesus by putting him to death, they set in motion the very thing that Jesus has come to do. They become part of God’s plan to bring us salvation and redemption through Jesus Christ. Jesus’ arrest, trial, execution by crucifixion should put an end to him and his ministry forever. And yet it is his very death that leads to Jesus’ victory over sin, evil, death, and Satan, and offers us new, everlasting life.
I recall the story of Joseph and his brothers from Genesis 50. The brothers fear Joseph’s response to their betrayal of him, but he comforts them instead with: “Do not fear, for am I in the place of God? As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today. So do not fear; I will provide for you and your little ones.” Judas, the religious elders, and Satan all enact evil against Jesus for their own purposes – but God uses their actions for the good of all His people.
As Judas’ plan with the chief priests is set in motion, Jesus remains mindful of God’s plan for him, even in these final days before his death. Quietly and intentionally, Jesus makes preparations for the final Passover meal with his disciples, continuing to teach them and care for them as his earthly ministry is fulfilled.
“Go and Do.”
Go and make preparations to receive Jesus this Lenten season – receive him again or receive him for the first time. Take the time to do whatever is necessary to prepare the way for Jesus in your life.
Heavenly Father, teach us to do Your will and follow in Your ways, for You are our Savior and Redeemer, our comfort and our help, our trust and our hope; In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.
About the Author
Rev. Dawn Holt Lauber is a Covenant Worship Pastor and a Covenant Living Chaplain. She and husband, David (a theology professor), have three children. A professional singer, Dawn first performed Duke Ellington’s sacred songs at The Riverside Church of New York City and feel in love with sacred jazz. She has several jazz recordings at www.dawnholtlauber.com Join Dawn and her sister, Courtney, as they discuss, “Joy in the Journey of life” - in crisis, triumph, and ordinary days. On instagram @joyinthejourney2022 and on Clubhouse at Joy in the Journey.