Today, on this Maundy Thursday, I think of the friendships Jesus had with his disciples. On this day, they sat down for a meal together. While this had been done before, it was clear this was a special meal. It was also Passover.
17 “On the first day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread, the disciples came to Jesus and asked, ‘Where do you want us to make preparations for you to eat the Passover?’
18 He replied, ‘Go into the city to a certain man and tell him, ‘The Teacher says: My appointed time is near. I am going to celebrate the Passover with my disciples at your house.’ 19 So the disciples did as Jesus had directed them and prepared the Passover.
But while this meal was taking place, a betrayal had already been set in motion.
20 When evening came, Jesus was reclining at the table with the Twelve.21 And while they were eating, he said, ‘Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me.’
22 They were very sad and began to say to him one after the other, ‘Surely you don’t mean me, Lord?’
23 Jesus replied, ‘The one who has dipped his hand into the bowl with me will betray me. 24 The Son of Man will go just as it is written about him.But woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man! It would be better for him if he had not been born.’
25 Then Judas, the one who would betray him, said, ‘Surely you don’t mean me, Rabbi?’
Jesus answered, “You have said so.”
26 While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.”
27 Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. 28 This is my blood of the[b]covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. 29 I tell you, I will not drink from this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.”
30 When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. – Matthew 26:17 – 30
The friendships Jesus had made with his disciples would be tested and broken.
31 “Then Jesus told them, ‘This very night you will all fall away on account of me, for it is written:
‘I will strike the shepherd,
and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’[c]
32 But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee.’
33 Peter replied, ‘Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will.’
34 ‘Truly I tell you,’ Jesus answered, ‘this very night, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.’
35 But Peter declared, ‘Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.’ And all the other disciples said the same.” – Matthew 26:30 – 35
How could the men who had been so close to Jesus deny Him? Peter would not have it.
“Then he returned to the disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Look, the hour has come, and the Son of Man is delivered into the hands of sinners. 46 Rise! Let us go! Here comes my betrayer!” 47 While he was still speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, arrived. With him was a large crowd armed with swords and clubs, sent from the chief priests and the elders of the people. 48 Now the betrayer had arranged a signal with them: “The one I kiss is the man; arrest him.” 49 Going at once to Jesus, Judas said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” and kissed him.
50 Jesus replied, “Do what you came for, friend.” – Matthew 26:45b – 50
Jesus understood what was about to happen and did not fault any of the disciples for being his friend. But he did remind them of their relationship and that it would be troubled.
A friend is honest with you, even when it hurts. A friend tells the truth, even when we don’t want to hear it. Even in the midst of his betrayal and arrest, Jesus is a friend to his disciples.
Jesus is our friend too. And, today, as you reflect on the events of Holy Thursday, may you be reminded that it is Jesus who makes us worthy of being loved. It is God’s act of unconditional love, poured out through Christ’s body and blood, which remind us of our friendship with Him. As you meditate on God’s Word and partake in the Lord’s Supper, sit with Jesus, as the disciples did. Think about the good conversations you have had with Jesus. But also understand that you and I are Judas and Peter. We are the others, that ran away, scared when Jesus was arrested. Our sin took Jesus on the journey to the cross.