Lenten Devotion: The Rock Crumbles

…Then they seized Him and led Him away, bringing Him into the high priest’s house, and Peter was following at a distance (Luke 22:54).

Read Luke 22:54-62

When Jesus is arrested, the disciples scatter in fear and go into hiding-all, that is-except for Peter. He follows at a distance then slips into the courtyard, posing as one of the temple police. Though it seems bold and courageous, Jesus does not want him there. He wants him safe with the other disciples. There is no reason for Peter to put himself in jeopardy. Jesus has already spelled out exactly what will happen.

In the cold night air the guards light a fire and Peter sits down to warm himself. But the firelight betrays him. Carefully studying his face, a maid points him out to the other guards: “This man also was with Him.”

Realizing the grave danger, Peter quickly answers, “Woman, I do not know Him.”

A short time later someone else recognizes him and says, “You also are one of them.”

Peter answers, “Man, I am not.” Luke’s narrative is kind to Peter; he only mentions the denials, not the oaths and curses he calls down on himself.

An hour later still another challenges him, “Certainly, this man also was with Him, for he too is a Galilean.”

Peter snaps back, “Man, I do not know what you are talking about.” And immediately he hears a rooster crowing and turns and looks straight into Jesus’ face-even as the words of his third denial are pouring from his lips.

Remembering Jesus’ prediction, Peter goes out and weeps bitterly. In its own way Peter’s denial was as painful for Jesus as was Judas’ betrayal. For Peter the guilt and shame must have been dreadful.

THE PRAYER: Lord Jesus, You looked in love on Peter in the midst of his sin. Look on me in my sins and turn me to sorrow and regret, so I may run to You for forgiveness and peace. Amen.

*Thank you to Lutheran Hour Ministries for providing this devotion.

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Lenten Devotion: A Blow for Liberty

… “Lord, shall we strike with the sword?” (Luke 22:49b).

Read Luke 22:35-38 47-53

While still in the upper room, Jesus had told His disciples, “Let the one who has no sword sell his cloak and buy one.” The disciples had answered, “Look, Lord, here are two swords.” When Jesus said, “It is enough,” Peter took one of those swords along to the Mount of Olives.

Now as they see Jesus surrounded by the temple guards, the disciples ask if He wants them to attack with the sword. But before Jesus can answer, Peter draws out his sword and strikes it against a guard standing nearby. Apparently, he was trying to split the man’s skull and missed, cutting off his right ear instead. It may seem strange for one lone man to attack a whole company of armed men, but Peter was going to do his part to set Jesus free.

Knowing Peter’s attack could lead the guards to draw their swords and attack the disciples, Jesus steps forward and takes charge of the situation. He miraculously heals the servant’s ear and brings peace and order back to the garden. This will be Jesus’ last miracle before His death and resurrection. It is important to note He does it for one of the enemies who has come to arrest Him and lead Him to His death.

Does Judas see this miracle? It is proof that Jesus is still concerned for His enemies. He is willing to forgive Judas and restore him-if only he will believe it in his hour of guilt and regret.

THE PRAYER: Lord Jesus, You put Peter’s sword back into its sheath and showed kindness to a stricken enemy, as You went forward to save us by Your suffering and death. In all times, and especially in danger, help me entrust myself into Your mighty hands. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

*Thank you to Lutheran Hour Ministries for providing this devotion.

Lenten Devotion: Betrayed With a Kiss

But Jesus said to him, “Judas, would you betray the Son of Man with a kiss?” (Luke 22:48).

Read Luke 22:47-48

Jesus awakens His disciples. While He is telling them to stay awake and pray, Jewish temple guards come forward with Judas at the lead. They come in force to maintain control, as they take Jesus into custody. Their presence will be especially necessary if word should get out to the great crowd of Jewish pilgrims, hanging on Jesus’ words in the temple.

The large number of temple guards is unnecessary. If Jesus didn’t want to be arrested, He could overpower them all with a word, or He could call on His Father to send an angel army 72,000 strong. Instead, He submits to His Father’s will. But He does not remain silent. He speaks one last time to Judas, trying to awaken his conscience. “Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?” The betrayer’s hypocrisy is striking, using something as familiar as a kiss and making it the instrument by which he would deliver Jesus over to His enemies.

But Judas does not see his guilt or his shame. He kisses Jesus in order to distinguish Him from the other disciples. But even this is pointless. Jesus is already stepping forward to put Himself in their hands.

This must have been one of the most painful things for Jesus. In this bitter betrayal, one that He loved now turned against Him with a simple kiss. But that was not all. Jesus knew Judas wouldn’t recognize the terrible thing he just did, and later he would rush off in despair and take his own life.

THE PRAYER: Lord Jesus, how sharp the pain You suffered as Judas whom You loved betrayed You with a kiss! Forgive me the times I thoughtlessly betray You. Amen.

*Thank you to Lutheran Hour Ministries for providing this devotion.

Lenten Devotion: The Betrayer

(Jesus said) “Behold, the hand of him who betrays Me is with Me on the table” (Luke 22:21).

Read Luke 22:21-23

Jesus first mentioned a betrayal when He predicted His sufferings to His disciples. Now at the Last Supper He staggers His disciples with the words, “Behold, the hand of him who betrays Me is with Me on the table.”

Judas must have been dumbstruck. Jesus has just put the secret he has carefully hidden out on the table for all to see. The tables have completely turned, and Judas is at Jesus’ mercy. He has the power to betray Judas into the other disciples’ hands or, at the very least, He can foil any attempt Judas may make to try to betray Him.

Now that He has Judas’ fearful attention, Jesus continues, “The Son of Man goes as it has been determined.” No one will force the Son of God to His sufferings-not Judas, not the Jewish leaders, not the Roman governor-but in order to fulfill His Father’s will and to save mankind He willingly goes to His death.

But Jesus’ focus is not on Himself; it’s on Judas, “But woe to that man by whom He is betrayed.” Jesus wants it to sink in. Like so many of the sins we contemplate, Judas doesn’t understand the full magnitude of what he is about to do. Jesus wants him to understand, so he will confess his sin now and receive Jesus’ pardon and forgiveness-before it is too late.

The disciples question among themselves who it is who would do this dastardly act. Jesus could do to Judas that which Judas agreed to do to Him. It is in His power to betray Judas to them. But He shields and protects him instead.

THE PRAYER: Lord Jesus, You reached out to Judas with true love and concern, urging him to repent and believe. Destroy my love of worldly things that I may repent and trust in You alone. Amen.

*Thank you to Lutheran Hour Ministries for providing this devotion.

Lenten Devotion: A New Memorial

And He said to them, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer” (Luke 22:15).

Read Luke 22:7-20

Everything He says and does points to His sufferings they have been trying so hard to ignore:

“This is the last Passover I will eat with you.”

“Take, eat, this is My body, do this in remembrance of Me.”

“This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood.”

And yet with the sorrow of these words, Jesus institutes a new feast-a memorial feast far beyond Moses’ Passover. In, with, and under the bread He miraculously gives us His body, which suffered God’s wrath in our place. In, with, and under the wine He gives us His blood, poured out in death, so we might live with Him forever. Forgiven, fed and nourished with this heavenly meal, we have the full assurance the angel of death will pass over us on Judgment Day.

THE PRAYER: Almighty God, Your Son gave Himself to suffering and death to satisfy Your wrath at my sins, and to secure my place with You in heaven. Receive my thanks and praise. In Jesus’ Name I pray. Amen.

*Thank you to Lutheran Hour Ministries for providing this devotion.

Lenten Devotion: The Traitor

Now the Feast of Unleavened Bread drew near, which is called the Passover (Luke 22:1).

Read Luke 22:1-6

Luke tells us the great Jewish festival of the Passover with its Feast of Unleavened Bread is drawing near. It is the reason the huge crowds have come from all over the Roman Empire to Jerusalem. It recalls Israel’s deliverance from slavery in Egypt by the death of the Egyptian firstborn. It was called “Passover” because the Lord caused the angel of death to pass over the Israelite houses marked with the blood of the Passover lamb.

The Jewish high court is meeting. Having already determined to put Jesus to death, they are looking for the best time and manner to accomplish this. They won’t consider an assassination; they want to find Him guilty of a capital crime and persuade Pilate to execute Him.

They keep coming back to one key problem: the huge crowds of pilgrims are thronging around Jesus, hanging on His every word. As long as the crowds are in town there is nothing they can do to Jesus. They decide they must wait to kill Jesus after the Passover is complete, when the crowds leave Jerusalem to return home.

Suddenly, an unexpected possibility arises. One of Jesus’ hand-picked disciples, Judas Iscariot, offers to betray Jesus to them for the modest price of 30 silver pieces. The priests rejoice in this unforeseen opportunity. They never could have predicted a defection from within Jesus’ camp. Now they have a man on the inside, watching for the opportunity to hand Jesus over to them before the Feast.

Jesus’ predictions are falling into place: “the Son of Man is about to be delivered into the hands of men.”

THE PRAYER: Lord Jesus, You knew Judas was plotting against You, yet You continued to reach out to him in love. Reach out to me with Your forgiveness and grace. Amen.

*Thank you to Lutheran Hour Ministries for providing this devotion.