Lent Devotional Day 31

Day 31
Friday, March 24

John 13:21-38

21 After he said these things, Jesus was deeply disturbed and testified, “I assure you, one of you will betray me.”

22 His disciples looked at each other, confused about which of them he was talking about. 23 One of the disciples, the one whom Jesus loved, was at Jesus’ side. 24 Simon Peter nodded at him to get him to ask Jesus who he was talking about. 25 Leaning back toward Jesus, this disciple asked, “Lord, who is it?”

26 Jesus answered, “It’s the one to whom I will give this piece of bread once I have dipped into the bowl.”Then he dipped the piece of bread and gave it to Judas, Simon Iscariot’s son. 27 After Judas took the bread, Satan entered into him. Jesus told him, “What you are about to do, do quickly.” 28 No one sitting at the table understood why Jesus said this to him. 29 Some thought that, since Judas kept the money bag, Jesus told him, “Go, buy what we need for the feast,” or that he should give something to the poor. 30 So when Judas took the bread, he left immediately. And it was night.

31 When Judas was gone, Jesus said, “Now the Human One[a] has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him. 32 If God has been glorified in him, God will also glorify the Human One[b] in himself and will glorify him immediately. 33 Little children, I’m with you for a little while longer. You will look for me—but, just as I told the Jewish leaders, I also tell you now—‘Where I’m going, you can’t come.’

34 “I give you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, so you also must love each other. 35 This is how everyone will know that you are my disciples, when you love each other.”

36 Simon Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, where are you going?” Jesus answered, “Where I am going, you can’t follow me now, but you will follow later.”
37 Peter asked, “Lord, why can’t I follow you now? I’ll give up my life for you.”
38 Jesus replied, “Will you give up your life for me? I assure you that you will deny me three times before the rooster crows.”

Poet William Blake famously wrote, “It is easier to forgive an enemy than to forgive a friend.” We expect to be hurt by enemies, but when friends hurt us, it is a betrayal. Jesus was betrayed by his closest friends. During Jesus’ ministry, thousands of people came to hear him speak, but there were 12 he considered to be his closest friends. They traveled together, ate together, learned together, and even argued at times. They did many of the things you likely do with your friends. However, Jesus knew they would betray him.

One disciple, Judas Iscariot, would sell him to be killed for 30 pieces of silver. Another, Peter, would deny knowing Jesus 3 times on the night of his death. Nine others would scatter and hide. Only one, John, would remain with him as he died.

It’s easy to wonder why Jesus would allow these friends to get so close knowing they would eventually hurt him so deeply. We might wonder why Jesus didn’t just choose different people to be his disciples or why he got so close with anyone at all. Couldn’t he have gone around preaching while keeping his followers at an arm's length? Maybe, but I think Jesus’ choice to enter into deep friendships, even knowing the hurt that would eventually come, is a model for us.

Some of us have been hurt by those we trust. This hurt can make us avoid building deep friendships with others. It can feel scary to open up when we expect we might get hurt. And yet, Jesus, knowing he would experience the deepest of betrayals, still intentionally sought out friendship. Why? Because, as God said when he created humankind, it is not good for us to be alone. We were created to be in relationships. Relationships bring richness and depth into our lives, even when shared with people who are sure to fail us.

After his resurrection, Jesus had a moment of reconciliation with Peter, and it was a beautiful one. For each time Peter denied knowing Jesus, Jesus gave him the opportunity to reaffirm his love for him. Jesus fully forgave Peter. And their friendship continued with renewed trust.

At times, our friends will let us down. At times, our trust will be broken. But we must not let this force us into solitude. This is not to say that we should remain in abusive relationships. Rather, we should not let the fear of hurt keep us from contending for deep and enduring friendships. Instead, like Jesus, we should enter into relationships with open hearts. As he said, “Just as I have loved you, so also you must love each other.”

God, thank you for the model of friendship Jesus provides. We know that in this life, people will let us down. Please give us the courage to seek deep friendships with others even when it feels hard. And thank you for being a friend we can always depend on. We love you. Amen.

By Ellie Sanazaro

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