These thoughts started a conversation that was had at Lee Memorial United Methodist Church on Sunday, March 25, 2018. The discussion was based upon a reading from Matthew 26:20-22. This short discussion preceded the welcoming of two new members into the congregation. It also concluded our Lenten discussion on membership vows of (intro) prayers, presence, gifts, service, and witness.
I have developed a handout to accompany this teaching and, hopefully, further the discussion in your home or small group. You can download it here. Note: the questions on this handout are often different from the questions raised in the discussion.
The disciples had been with Jesus for quite a while. They’d seen him drive out demons, feed thousands, heal the sick, restore sight to the blind, calm a storm, walk on water, and a few of them had even seen transformed on the mountaintop.
They had seen him withstand ridicule from the religious elite; and, high praise from people. None of them thought they’d ever betray Jesus. None of the disciples believed they’d ever be unfaithful, they’d been through too much together.
I can only how they must have felt, then, when Jesus sits down to dinner with them and tells them that one of them will betray him.
I don’t think any well-meaning person enters a relationship thinking that they are going to be unfaithful.
Why are people unfaithful? What causes unfaithfulness?
Why might a disciple betray Jesus? Why do we betray Jesus?
As much as I would like to ask the question—what can make us faithful? How can we help each other remain faithful and not betray him?—it would be disingenuous.
While I think we all have a choice to follow Christ or not—we all have a choice to sin or not, we are nonetheless “inclined to evil, and that continually” (Article VII—Of Original or Birth Sin, in the Articles of Religion of the Methodist Church). There’s nothing we can do to ensure that we will remain faithful. So, thanks be to God, that God is faithful.
Our commitment to Christ is not measured or diminished by the magnitude of our blunders nor the immensity of our sin, but in our willingness to turn back—to repent, to change our hearts and lives—and recommit to the way of Christ.
There will come a time when we will each betray Jesus. We will deny our relationship with him. We will pursue personal gain instead of the well-being of our neighbors and the community. We will demand our own preferences with complete disregard for what God’s will might be for our lives and those around us. We will each betray Jesus; and, when we do, may we each remain faithful to one another, calling each other back to the wounded side of Christ.
Therefore, brothers and sisters,
12 May the Lord cause you to increase and enrich your love for each other and for everyone in the same way as we also love you. 13 May the love cause your hearts to be strengthened, to be blameless in holiness before our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all his people. Amen. (1 Thessalonians 3:12-13, Common English Bible)
Do all in your power to increase one another’s faith, confirm one another’s hope, and perfect one another in love. This is our vow to one another and God.
Amen? and amen.