Thomas, a disciple of Jesus Christ and famed for his doubting nature, could have been the last to leave the upper room on Passover Eve. This was the night Jesus was to be betrayed. In fact, he even told the disciples that he was going to be betrayed and handed over to the Pharisees and the teachers of the law. Mixed emotions and confusion must have fallen on the disciples sitting around the table. I wonder what they thought as they left the room that eventful night. In the last of a series, I offer what Thomas might have thought. I picture him one of the last to leave. And as he watched Jesus enter into the garden of Gethsemane to pray, he might have stood at a distance and observed his troubled rabbi. He might have thought,
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me.” That’s what Jesus told us tonight. Sounds pretty simple, doesn’t it? To trust? Look, I’m not a person who trusts very easily. People need to earn my trust – to prove themselves. I’m no fool. I need proof before I can begin to trust another man’s words.
When Jesus had heard that Lazarus was sick and had fallen asleep he decided to come back to Judea. I thought, “Finally! Now is the time for him to be the promised Messiah we had been waiting for. We had seen the miracles, but it’s not enough. We needed action. So I said to the disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”
And now tonight, a night where we should be finalizing plans for him to be the Messiah, Jesus kept talking about going to a different place. And that we, his disciples, would know the way where he is going. A different place? Outside of Jerusalem? So I asked Jesus, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way!” And he said this, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really knew me, Thomas, you would know my Father as well.”
If I really knew you? I’ve been his disciple for the past several years. I feel like I know him better than anyone I’ve known before. He’s not just my Lord, he’s my friend. But he keeps talking in riddles. I desire to follow Jesus, but I need to know the plan. I need the details. He talks in ways that I just can’t see. I need the plain truth staring me right in the face. Without evidence, I struggle to trust in what he’s saying or doing.
I remember him telling Martha something when her brother Lazarus had died that has stuck with me. He said, “I am the resurrection and the life.” Then, proceeded to raise Lazarus from the grave and back to life. How can you not watch this… this miracle and be affected. I confess I am torn. My heart believes one thing and my head another. It is obvious right now that Jesus is not the Messiah I expected him to be, and that’s, well… disappointing. How am I going to respond? Will I abandon Jesus, as I have abandoned relationships before when confronted by disappointment? Do I risk the hurt by taking one more step further in faith?
But I will remain committed to Jesus. I will stay with him no matter what. Even though I struggle to believe, I do know that Jesus is my friend and I will give my life to him. And my trust.”
On the night Jesus was betrayed as the disciples were leaving the upper room, I wonder what they were thinking. They had heard some very startling news. Jesus was to be betrayed — by one of them — and that he was going to be turned over to the high priests and the teachers of the law. This was not their idea of what the Messiah was to be, especially since they were now in Jerusalem. In this continuing series, I offer to you what the Apostle John might have thought on that night.
“Just when you thought you’ve seen it all. And, believe me, I have seen so much. Water to wine. Sickness to health, even death to life. I have seen the miracles and heard the words of Jesus. I believe that he is indeed the Messiah, the Son of God, the light of all mankind.
But tonight… tonight is different.
Death? Betrayal? The Savior I love and I know who loves me has come to Jerusalem for a purpose — a purpose that goes beyond my understanding, beyond my expectations, beyond what I can even bear to think. My Savior, my Jesus, the one whom I love — is he serious about what he’s saying?
This evening, at the table, you saw it didn’t you? Jesus broke the bread and passed it around to us saying, “This is my body.” And he took the cup, gave thanks and passed it around saying, ‘This is my blood of a new covenant.” I couldn’t help but be reminded of our Jewish custom when a man and a woman become engaged to be married. Once a bride price is negotiated and agreed upon, a cup of wine is presented and shared to seal the new covenant of a marriage. The price is paid and the groom goes back to prepare a room at his father’s house. And at that time when the room is ready, which only the father can determine, the groom comes back at a day and hour unknown, to claim his bride who’s been faithfully waiting for him fully prepared for his arrival.
So, what could tonight mean? What new covenant is being established? Blood must be spilled to establish any new covenant and blood is spilled when a covenant is broken. And what is the bride price that Jesus will fulfill? And to be betrayed? By one of us? That betrayal is like a young man being with another woman on the same night of his engagement. Unheard of. Unthinkable.
Jesus is the promised Messiah — that I know. But at what cost will he be the Savior of our people? He told us tonight that he will be with us only a little longer. He said, “Where I am going, you cannot follow now, but you will follow later.” I don’t understand right now, but I do believe in who He is. And for that, I will wait. Yes, I will wait.”
James and John, brothers and disciples of Jesus the Messiah, probably had a difficult time comprehending all that they saw in the time leading up to entering Jerusalem. Now, as they leave the upper room on the night Jesus was betrayed, they may have been even more bewildered. They heard that Jesus was going to be betrayed. Jesus told him that he was to suffer and die. In fact, Jesus broke bread and passed the cup of wine, saying “This is my body and this is my blood.” I can only imagine what must have been going through their minds. In this ongoing series, I take a look at what James might have said as he was leaving the upper room.
“So, all that Jesus has been talking about lately seems to have finally arrived. When he first told us that he must come to Jerusalem to suffer, die and rise again — I just didn’t get it. I didn’t want to believe it. I had so many dreams of who the Messiah ought to be – who the Messiah needs to be — a conquering hero to re-establish the kingdom of Israel.
But I must admit, my mind is swirling right now – mainly because of what I would call a mountain-top experience I just had. Jesus led Peter, John and I to a remote place on top of a mountain. I can’t reveal everything now, but the experience confirmed for me that Jesus is the promised Messiah and he is doing everything the Old Testament prophets said he would do with the full approval of God. I still don’t understand, but I must trust that God’s ways are better than mine. If the end result is what I saw – Jesus in all his glory – than I know the end result is going to be good. It is going to be very good.
Just two nights ago, I joined Jesus sitting on top of the Mount of Olives overlooking Jerusalem. We had been marveling earlier at the massive stones of the city walls when Jesus said there will come a time when all these walls are going to be destroyed. That shook us up a bit. So we asked, Jesus, “When will this happen? What will be the sign of your return?” And he told us to always be on your guard. Be watchful so that you will not be deceived. There will be wars and rumors of wars, earthquakes and famine which will mark the beginning of the end. There will be false teachers and many who will claim to be the Christ – but don’t believe them.
He basically told us to not let our security be placed on man, on building up riches, or protection behind what seems to be impenetrable walls. Everything you possess can be gone in a flash; in a moment; in a twinkling of an eye. Nobody knows the hour or the day of his return. But whatever happens, no matter how difficult it may be, the most important thing is to be ready.
Yes, my heart is troubled. I’m scared. This is not what I expected when I became a disciple of Jesus. I will not allow myself to be deceived by appearances or difficult circumstances. Even thought it appears that Jesus may be defeated, even destroyed, I trust his words that he will rise again in power, glory and honor.”
The disciples had gathered in the upper room for the Passover celebration. They were in Jerusalem for a purpose, but the disciples had not really fathomed the real reason. Jesus had just announced that he was going to be betrayed to the shock of them all — including Judas Iscariot who couldn’t believe that Jesus knew what he had already done. Then, Jesus broke the bread and said, ‘This is my body” and passed the cup saying, “This is my blood of a new covenant.” With all this being shared, I wonder what each disciple thought as they left the upper room that night. This time, I wonder what Judas Iscariot have thought. Perhaps he would have said this,
“You know, it wasn’t supposed to be like this. This is not what I signed up for when I became a disciple of Rabbi Jesus. I thought he was going to be our Messiah. I followed him for the past several years and I positioned myself to one of his twelve disciples so when the time came for Jesus to be the King, I would be given a prominent position in the new order.
But it certainly doesn’t seem like that’s going to happen. There’s no strategy to overthrow the Romans. He’s nowhere close of being the Messiah he claims to be. And he’s certainly not the Savior our people have been hoping for. I’ve never been more disappointed in all my life.
Now, there are times when you have to take matters into your own hands. We can’t afford to have rabbis like Jesus claiming to be the Messiah and then do nothing about it. So, I made an agreement with the chief priests to hand him over. I mean, what’s the worst that can happen? The Sanhedrin has no authority to kill him – even though I’m sure they want to – and besides, it’s against the law. Only the Romans can sentence someone to death. They’ll just warn him, perhaps rough him up a bit and send him on his way.
Maybe if Jesus gets arrests, it will prompt him to be the Messiah everyone expects him to be.
O.k., o.k! I got thirty pieces of silver to turn over Jesus to the Sanhedrin. And all I have to do is kiss him in the Garden of Gethsemane. Big deal! What’s the harm in that? That’s a normal greeting and nobody will know the difference. Nobody will suspect me… that is, except Jesus. He knows it’s me. I can tell. But to call me a betrayer, c’mon! I’ve been just as loyal as the next disciple.
Look, if Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God as he claims to be, then why doesn’t he just establish the kingdom of our people, just like the prophets foretold, and run the Romans out of town and be done with it! If he can’t do that, then he’s no Savior of mine – and I’ve wasted my time.”
Who do you say I am? When Jesus looked at me right in the face – his eyes conveyed an earnest I’ve not seen before, it was if my heart and my soul lay exposed for the world to see. Who are you? I thought. Who else can you be? I have seen first-hand the miracles. I have heard his teaching. I have travelled day and night with him. I KNOW the man. You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.
I know what they think of me. The Pharisees and the teachers of the law see that I’m just an ordinary, unschooled man – who doesn’t have the training and knowledge to recognize the Messiah if and when he comes. But I tell you – it’s not the head that leads you to believe in the Savior and recognize who he is – it’s the heart. I know I can be impulsive, quick to judge, and make rash decisions. My words and actions flow out of me uncontrollably like a swollen river in the spring. I’m a man of action rather than a man of reason. But nobody can deny my love and my devotion to Rabbi Jesus.
I desperately want to be a disciple that my Lord can be proud of. I’m not afraid to do anything. I will walk water, literally, to show my Lord that I have faith strong enough to move mountains. And yes, sometimes I get a little wet in my boldness, exposing a lack of faith that most like to keep hidden. That’s just me, I guess.
When Jesus told us that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer at the hands of the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law – even to the point of death – I just couldn’t let that happen. I told him, “Never, Lord! This shall never happen to you!”
And do you know what Jesus to me? “Get behind me, Satan. You are a stumbling block. You do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.” Could he be really talking to me? A stumbling block? An agent of Satan? That just can’t be. I love Jesus. I’m his chosen disciple. He has revealed to me things that most of the disciples don’t even know about.
But to be betrayed by one of us? Unthinkable! To be turned over to the chief priests and suffer, perhaps even die? I just can’t let that happen. I am Symeon Petros, Simon Peter, the name Jesus gave just for ME – the rock upon which I will build his church. I will not let him down. I will stand tall for Jesus and not deny him.