Subject: Post-Resurrection Power for Pre-Resurrection Failure
Text: John 13:21-32
21 After saying this Jesus was troubled in spirit, and declared, “Very truly, I tell you, one of you will betray me.” 22 The disciples looked at one another, uncertain of whom he was speaking. 23 One of his disciples—the one whom Jesus loved—was reclining next to him; 24 Simon Peter therefore motioned to him to ask Jesus of whom he was speaking. 25 So while reclining next to Jesus, he asked him, “Lord, who is it?” 26 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. 27 After he received the piece of bread, Satan entered into him. Jesus said to him, “Do quickly what you are going to do.” 28 Now no one at the table knew why he said this to him. 29 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. 30 So, after receiving the piece of bread, he immediately went out. And it was night. 31 When he had gone out, Jesus said, “Now the Son of Man has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him. 32 If God has been glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself and will glorify him at once.
Well, it’s been about 3 years and much has happened. Jesus intentionally chose 12 men to follow him as disciples and women raised funds to ensure his ministry would be successful. But for this moment let us consider what happens when your inner circle breaks down when it betrays and denies you right before your very eyes. For this is not a backdoor affair, this is a public denial by those whom Jesus handpicked to take his ministry to another level. That is the case within our text. The entire 12 abandon our Lord when he should have been able to count on them most. It’s amazing what pressure on your convictions can produce.
So Jesus is seated at the table with his disciples, breaking bread with them and the Holy Spirit gives him a glimpse of what he will have to endure in the coming days. Among this revelation, Jesus sees Judas, his treasurer betray him, his closest ally, Peter denies him, and then the other 11 desert him. Talking about a vision from God, Jesus certainly had one.
These are not strangers, these are close associates, his disciples. Men who supposedly have left all to follow Jesus, all ambitions, all worldly pursuits, all worldly desires for power and prestige. Men who have traveled with Jesus across the Palestinian valleys and the Judaean hills. They have crossed the Sea of Galilee with him, even endured criticism of him, and have had intense debates regarding theology with him. They know him, and yet they don’t know him as well as they should. The fact is it is in the hour of greatest adversity, that they get a chance to discover that they are not who they think they are. They are not the courageous 12, they are more like the hateful 8. They’re a hot mess; they are pre-resurrection disciples in need of post-resurrection power to be effective witnesses. Hallelujah!
This turn of events, this traumatic incident in his life, caused Jesus to reflect on the words of King David, the Psalmist King. King David, when faced with the dire circumstance of betrayal, lamented in Psalm 41:9, “Yea, mine own familiar friend, in whom I trusted, which did eat of my bread, hath lifted up his heel against me.” I wonder if he was being prophetic or if Absalom’s betrayal hurt him just as much as Judas’ betrayal tormented Jesus. But let us move on, it’s lunchtime and we cannot linger here.
It is traumatic because Judas does not betray Jesus until Judas is blessed by Jesus. It is only after he receives the bread that Judas yields himself to Satan. Can you imagine that? You bless your inner circle and then your inner circle betrays you. Lord, have mercy!
That’s a message all by itself; let us move on. The Holy Spirit gives Jesus a vision only of betrayal, denial, and abandonment or so it seems; because despite his tortured soul at this revelation from the Holy Spirit, Jesus sees what will happen post-resurrection.
And that’s why we celebrate Holy Week. We assemble because we understand the blessing of post-resurrection. Yes, when pressure is applied, we may fail, but that’s pre-resurrection. Yes, we may betray friends, deny allies, and even abandon loved ones in their hour of greatest need, but that is pre-resurrection. Pre-resurrection happens in the face of unforeseen circumstances wherein we thought we could stand only to discover the pressures of life beat back our resolve and revealed our cowardice.
How many times have we resolutely proclaimed a stand for righteousness, justice, and equality only to back down in the face of our opponents? How often have we made vows to God only to see ourselves fail to fulfill our vows? This is the stuff of pre-resurrection. Stuff we are called to overcome with post-resurrection power.
But isn’t it good to know that there is fountain filled with blood, drawn from Emmanuel’s vein and sinner’s plunge beneath that flood lose all their guilt and shame. I’m so glad that God has given us a solution to our pre-resurrection blues. For I hear the Apostle Paul declare, “When I would do good, evil is always present within me.” And then Paul asks the Questions: “Who shall deliver us from these pre-resurrection struggles?” “I thank God through Jesus Christ, our Lord!” These words led the hymn writer to exclaim, “What can wipe away my sins, nothing but the blood of Jesus! What can make me whole again, nothing but the blood of Jesus!’
I stop by here on this Wednesday of Holy Week to share with you that there is post-resurrection power for pre-resurrection failure. His Name is Jesus.
And if your inner circle breaks down, if your life has been turned upside down just remember that it was in a similar incident that Jesus said, “Now is the Son of Man has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him.” It is in that hour when your entire world is turned upside down, that God will get some glory out of your life. It’s a matter of perspective
Sometimes, you have to be left alone, ostracized, rejected and abandoned in order to see the glory of God in your life. Remember beloved, God is not dependent on your friends or your associates to use you. God does not need you to get over 1,000 social media followers in order to make you a sponsor of the cross of Jesus Christ. Jesus saw his betrayal, denial, and abandonment as an opportunity for God to be glorified and so should you.
Let us pray. Heavenly Father, may we be able to surrender our will to yours, our friends and family to you even in pre-resurrection circumstances. For we believe that your post-resurrection power is more than enough to bring glory to your name. Let us view our situations as Christ viewed his: as an opportunity for you to show up and show out. Bless your word today, in Jesus Name, Amen.