Holy Week 2018 Devotion – Wednesday

John 13:21-32
After saying this Jesus was troubled in spirit, and declared, “Very truly, I tell you, one of you will betray me.” The disciples looked at one another, uncertain of whom he was speaking. One of his disciples—the one whom Jesus loved—was reclining next to him; Simon Peter therefore motioned to him to ask Jesus of whom he was speaking. So while reclining next to Jesus, he asked him, “Lord, who is it?” Jesus answered, “It is the one to whom I give this piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish.” So when he had dipped the piece of bread, he gave it to Judas son of Simon Iscariot. After he received the piece of bread, Satan entered into him. Jesus said to him, “Do quickly what you are going to do.” Now no one at the table knew why he said this to him. Some thought that, because Judas had the common purse, Jesus was telling him, “Buy what we need for the festival”; or, that he should give something to the poor. So, after receiving the piece of bread, he immediately went out. And it was night.
When he had gone out, Jesus said, “Now the Son of Man has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him. If God has been glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself and will glorify him at once.

Last night our student ministry had our weekly Connection gathering. We were discussing Holy Week, and our focus turned to Good Friday. I mentioned to them that some of them might encounter Good Friday services that focus a lot on the blood and gore of the crucifixion. I’ve been to services where those attending were given nails (allegedly like the ones used to crucify Jesus, although, if this was the case, Jesus could have been no larger than a gingerbread man) and sometimes we were told to push the nail really deep into our palms. Other times we nailed them into a block of wood so that the noise of that would stick with us. I’ve only seen The Passion of the Christ once and that was more than enough. I mentioned last night that I get the place of a small amount of the blood and gore. After all, crucifixion was a truly awful way to die.

But I left my students with this thought: “Hopefully none of you will ever be crucified or face any kind of horrible death. But all of you will at some point likely face betrayal by someone you love. You might feel abandoned, even by God. And for me, that sense of isolation and loneliness is worse than all the blood and gore you can throw at me.”

Physical abuse and torture is fundamentally awful. We also should not overlook and underemphasize the emotional and mental hell of feeling like everyone, including God, has left you. For me, that’s the worst thing imaginable.

There are people around us who feel this way often. They feel unloved. Some churches have told them that God doesn’t love them or that God actually hates them. Think about the pain that must cause. Or maybe you don’t have to think about it because you are living it. In case you haven’t heard it before, that’s a lie. God loves you. God made you. God takes great delight in your life. Like a parent God might be disappointed in some things you do, but God will never abandon you. God is for and with you, now and always.