The table was set. When they entered the room everything was laid in its place and ready for the meal. Peter and John had done a masterful job. So far today had been calmer, and without much commotion. A simple sermon in the city, and catching up with old friends. After the last few days, it was a welcome relief. Now there would be a meal together – perhaps things were finally going to get back to normal.
John and Peter are laughing as Matthew told jokes. James and Andrew are trying not to get caught stealing early snacks from the table. Thomas, Phillip and Jude are sighing and reminiscing about the craziness of the week so far. Everyone had settled in – except for Judas who is oddly secluded in a corner. He looks nervous, like he’s eaten something sour, but no one’s really eaten anything yet. Just then Jesus walks in and calls them to the table.
And he said to them, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he said, “Take this, and divide it among yourselves. For I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.
Luke 22:15–21 (ESV)
Wait what?!? Things escalated. Tempers flared. They demanded answers – to questions that just minutes before they didn’t even know they had. HIS body? HIS blood? In remembrance? Was something going to happen to Him after all? Jesus calmed them down by doing something completely unexpected. He filled a bowl with water, grabbed a towel and began to wash their feet. Peter was having none of it – claiming he should wash Jesus’ feet instead. Jesus just continued. One person after the next, until every single one of them had been served by their teacher and friend. Just then, things took a turn for the worst.
Jesus was troubled in his spirit, and testified, “Truly, truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me.” The disciples looked at one another, uncertain of whom he spoke. One of his disciples, whom Jesus loved, was reclining at table at Jesus’ side, so Simon Peter motioned to him to ask Jesus of whom he was speaking. So that disciple, leaning back against Jesus, said to him, “Lord, who is it?” Jesus answered, “It is he to whom I will give this morsel of bread when I have dipped it.” So when he had dipped the morsel, he gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot. Then after he had taken the morsel, Satan entered into him. Jesus said to him, “What you are going to do, do quickly.” Now no one at the table knew why he said this to him. Some thought that, because Judas had the moneybag, Jesus was telling him, “Buy what we need for the feast,” or that he should give something to the poor. So, after receiving the morsel of bread, he immediately went out. And it was night.
John 13:21–30 (ESV)
The group moved quickly now. Jesus wanted to go to the garden and pray. There was an urgency about Him that seemed ominous and frightening. When they got to the entrance, He told most of them to stay, and chose a few to come in further and pray. It was late – and they fell asleep. He was angry – and He’d been sweating. Why was there blood on His clothes?
Just then torches appear in the distance. The sound of soldiers fills the quiet of the otherwise peaceful night. Jesus looks up and seems as if He already knows what is coming. It was Judas. And the Romans? What did they want? Peter stood at alert. Judas was about to speak.
And he came up to Jesus at once and said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” And he kissed him. Jesus said to him, “Friend, do what you came to do.” Then they came up and laid hands on Jesus and seized him. And behold, one of those who were with Jesus stretched out his hand and drew his sword and struck the servant of the high priest and cut off his ear. Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back into its place. For all who take the sword will perish by the sword. Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels? But how then should the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must be so?” At that hour Jesus said to the crowds, “Have you come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs to capture me? Day after day I sat in the temple teaching, and you did not seize me. But all this has taken place that the Scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled.”
Matthew 26:49–56 (ESV)
Quickly the guards surrounded Jesus and made Him their prisoner. A line had been drawn, and decisions needed to be made. Should they stay and fight? That didn’t seem to be His will. Eyes darted. Legs trembled. Knees buckled. This would be the defining moment of their friendship. Every single one of them knew it. They had a choice to make. And then they made it – and they ran.