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Praying Through the Scriptures - John 18
O Lord, I don't think I'll ever understand Judas, what his motivation was. I don't understand how he could have betrayed you, not in this way. I understand Peter's denial. There's a difference here. Judas betrayed you for money, not out of fear. I have to assume that he didn't really expect you to be killed, but he had to know that was possible. He knew how much the chief priests and the Pharisees hated you, so he had to know there was a possibility of some violence, that you might be hurt. I just don't understand, Lord. Yet, I know that Judas lived in a fallen world, just as I do. Because of that, there is evil in this world and we all do things that we don't mean to do, that we later wish we hadn't done. So, I try not to be too hard on Judas, but, Lord, what you went through makes that hard. I know it was the Father's plan all along that Judas would betray you and you would be crucified. I don't understand that, either. I don't understand why it had to be that way, but I accept that is how it had to be because God's plan is always perfect.
Lord, what made those men draw back and fall to the ground? Were they awestruck? Was it fear? The text doesn't say, and I just wonder. I wonder if it was something about your presence, something about you that caused them to fall down in fear or in awe. Perhaps it was the same "something" that caused Matthew to leave his tax collection booth when all you said was, "Follow me".
Thank you, Jesus for providing the example for all of us as to how a leader takes responsibility. You took responsibility for your disciples when you said, "You seek me, let these go their way." Thank you, Jesus.
Lord, it's hard to know what to think about Peter. He seems to be a man of great passion. At this point he was very loyal to you, although his loyalty was misdirected as he thought that he needed to protect you by striking out at those he perceived to be your enemies. Thank you, Jesus, for recognizing that it was necessary that you drink the cup that your Father had given you. Thank you for submitting to his will and drinking that cup, for in doing so, you broke the bonds of death and sin. You made it possible for each of us to be reconciled with the Father. Thank you, Lord Jesus! Thank you!
Lord, I know that this is not the first time that Peter will say he didn't know you. I know what it's like to be afraid of saying the wrong thing; that if you say the wrong thing, if you speak the truth, something bad will happen to you. I do understand that. When I read this passage, Lord, where Peter demonstrates his fear by denying you three times, and then I think ahead to the book of Acts, oh, what a difference! What a difference your resurrection makes! What a difference the Holy Spirit makes! Peter couldn't deny you anymore. He couldn't. He knew. He knew without a doubt that you are the Messiah, the Son of the Living God. Oh, Lord, I know, too! You are the Messiah. Oh, thank you Jesus. Thank you for dying for me, for coming back to life, for sending your Holy Spirit to guide me, to guide all of your people. Thank you, Lord.
Lord, I don't know what to say about your first appearance before the high priest. If it should happen today, Lord, I wonder if it would be any better. Would you be treated right? Would the judges listen to what you actually said instead of lies people told about you? Would we give you a fair trial today? I would like to think so, Lord, but I don't know. You didn't do what was expected of you. I think you would be branded as a radical. There would be people who would believe, and there would be people just like the chief priests and Pharisees who would seek to kill you.
Lord, when Peter heard the rooster crow, I suspect he felt extremely sorrowful, and I suspect he was in disbelief. Disbelief that he, Peter, would deny you, just as you said he would, three times. Lord, there are times when I do things that I don't understand. I have done things that I didn't mean to do. I ask you to forgive me for failing you, and I know, Lord, that you have forgiven me. For that, I thank you. Help me, Lord. Help me to do what you want me to do. Help me never to deny you. Help me to remember that you are the Messiah, that you are alive, that you are in me and I am in you. Help me to always remember.
Father, Pilate asked, "What is truth?" I don't know whether he said that sarcastically or if he seriously wanted to know. Regardless, that's a question to which I think all mankind wants to know the answer. Father, you've given us the answer. Your written Word is truth, and your Son is truth. Jesus said, "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life." Help me, Father, always to remember. When I wonder what is truth, remind me that Jesus is the truth, that your Word is truth. Help me to recognize, Father, the falsehood that is in the world, the false prophets, and false teachers. Help me, Father. Draw me always back to you, to the truth you have revealed through your Son and your written Word. Help me, Father, to discern the truth. Help me not to be deceived by the evil one and his demons, who masquerade as your angels.
Father, when Pilate asked the crowd whether he should release Jesus, whom he referred to as the "King of the Jews", it seems that he was a weak man, that he wanted to please the crowd, that he was afraid of them. It seems he was afraid of standing up to them, of standing for what is right. Father, help me not to be weak, but to always stand for the truth; to do so in love, not intentionally offending anyone. Help me, Father, always to stand for the truth and for what is right. Help me, Father, to obey you rather than men. Help me not to seek conflict, but when it comes to me, when there is a confrontation, when I must make a decision, help me. Guide me to make the right decision, based on the truth. Thank you, Father. Thank you. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.
Copyright 2007, Star Ferdinand. All Rights Reserved.
Star Ferdinand is the author of The Prayerful Bible Study Series of study guides, numerous devotionals, and other Christian writings. You can read more of her writings at starferdinand.wordpress.com.
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