Luke 22: 63-71 (MsgB)
 The men in charge of Jesus began poking fun at Him, slapping Him around.  They put a blindfold on Him and taunted, “Who hit you that time?”  They were having a grand time with Him.  When it was morning, the religious leaders of the people and the high priests and scholars all got together and brought Him before their High Council.  They said, “Are You the Messiah?”He answered, “If I said yes, you wouldn’t believe Me.  If I asked what you meant by your question, you wouldn’t answer Me.  So here’s what I have to say: From here on the Son of Man takes His place at God’s right hand, the place of power.”  They all said, “So you admit Your claim to be the Son of God?” “You’re the ones who keep saying it,” He said.  But they had made up their minds, “Why do we need any more evidence? We’ve all heard Him as good as say it Himself.”
This bitter evening of betrayal is finally coming to an end.
First Judas leaves. Then ten others of Jesus’ closest associates depart, running away in fear.
Simon Peter, the Rock, is the next to fall. Denying flat-out, three times, that he knows whom Jesus of Nazareth actually is.
Finally, as the sun rises on a new day, we see the full manifestation of rejection and betrayal coming into completion as Jesus of Nazareth stands before the High Counsel of God’s people.
This God-man who was born a stranger to the land of Israel thirty-three years earlier, has now come full circle. He’s about to be tried and executed as a stranger to God’s people.
He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces He was despised, and we esteemed Him not. Isaiah 53: 3 NIV.
For those of us who have the advantage of knowing who Jesus is after the fact, it seems so impossible that the Son of God could be treated in this way. This complete rejection and betrayal just doesn’t make sense to us. This utter desertion by His friends, family, and the people of God just doesn’t compute in our minds.
We read these passages and secretly say to ourselves, ‘if we’d been there, things would have been different’. But I must caution us that we must guard ourselves carefully when those thoughts arise, because all of us living after the fact just can’t realize what living around Jesus was like, prior to His death and resurrection.
This stark awareness of how good people, people who should know better yet fail to respond, should be a real wake-up call to all of us. As I see it, there’s a massive lesson staring us in the face if we’d dare to learn from it.
The truth is that God’s Messiah can be standing right before us and we, for one reason or another, can miss Him or reject Him completely.
Yikes. Reflect on that for a minute or two.
The very answer we’ve been asking God for is standing right in front of us, but because of circumstances that surround us, we are either unwilling or unable to ‘see’ it with our own eyes. God may be giving us the very answer to our prayers. Yet because of our stubbornness or unwillingness to adjust, or because of our own self-centered, self-interests, the very answer God has for us might be blocked from our eyes.
The disciples in the first century prove right here that it can happen. The established church of Jesus’ day proves to us that we can be standing right in the center of the Holy of Holies and yet our eyes can’t see the very Messiah God sends to help us all.
Frightening, isn’t it?
Yet the truth is that God wants us to learn from these New Testament first-century stories. The Holy Spirit desires to open blind eyes, soften hardened hearts, and remove religious scales from our eyes. Scales that darken our ability to see and embrace all that God might be doing in our midst.
May Jesus’ night of betrayal and rejection never come again. May this hour be an hour of receptivity and openness to receiving Jesus for who He is and all He has for our world today.
My prayer: Lord, I believe that these stories of blind betrayal and utter rejection are here to encourage us that these human attitudes don’t have to remain in our lives. Now that You have been revealed as God’s Messiah, there is no reason for us to remain in a place of rejecting Your lordship. Holy Spirit, allow us to take a higher road that doesn’t repeat the betrayal and rejection of Jesus we find in the first-century. For Your name’s sake. Amen.
My questions to ponder: How have I allowed my circumstances or worldly environment to water-down my core belief and corresponding life actions as they relate to Jesus as God’s Messiah? Am I rejecting or betraying Jesus in any way similar to the patterns I see here in Luke’s story? If so, how can I repent for those actions and realign myself, unashamedly, with Jesus, God’s true Son?
So what is God speaking to you today? Are you practicing the Kingdom presence of God?