Based on Matthew 26:17-30
It is heart-breaking to hear Jesus say point-blank — “Truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me.” The Twelve are cut to the heart, as they are sorrowful and ask Him, “Is it I, Lord?” On the one hand, we know that it is Judas who would betray the Lord. On the other, doesn’t Peter betray Jesus as well? Not once, but three times? And before we are too quick to criticize Judas and Peter, don’t we betray our Lord, as well?
In John’s account of the Lord’s Supper, Jesus gives a new commandment. The old commandment was, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Jesus turns it upside down when he commands, “Love one another, as I have loved you.” That is a whole different commandment, isn’t it? How does the Lord Jesus love you and me? Completely, sacrificially, in such a way that he empties Himself of Himself, as He takes our sin upon Himself, dying on the cross, that we might have new life. And, do we keep this commandment faithfully? Or do we betray Jesus, daily, unable to love one another as He loves us? We are, in a way, betrayers of Jesus, as were Judas and Peter. To acknowledge this is to remind us of our need for a Savior, our need for the New Covenant Jesus came to inaugurate, and our need for the forgiveness of our sins, which we receive through His blood poured out for us! We ought never to hear the accounts of Maundy Thursday and Good Friday, thinking, “how shameful of those twelve disciples, and Judas and Peter especially, who betrayed the Lord.” We are always to understand that we are with them, sitting at table with Jesus, His betrayers one and all, yet eating and drinking His body and blood of the New Covenant, forgiven, transformed, made new, through His crucifixion, death and resurrection.
Prayer: O Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world, have mercy upon us. Grant us peace. Amen.
Holy Week response: If physically able, receive the Lord’s Supper today.
This year’s devotional was prepared by the Rev. Dr. David Wendel, NALC assistant to the bishop for ministry and ecumenism. To learn more about A Lenten Walk Through the Word, visit thenalc.org/lent.
Scripture quotations are from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
24:3 Moses came and told the people all the Lord’s words and all the decisions. All the people answered together, “We are willing to do all the words that the Lord has said,” 4and Moses wrote down all the words of the Lord. Early in the morning he built an altar at the foot of the mountain and arranged twelve standing stones – according to the twelve tribes of Israel. 5He sent young Israelite men, and they offered burnt offerings and sacrificed young bulls for peace offerings to the Lord. 6Moses took half of the blood and put it in bowls, and half of the blood he splashed on the altar. 7He took the Book of the Covenant and read it aloud to the people, and they said, “We are willing to do and obey all that the Lord has spoken.” 8So Moses took the blood and splashed it on the people and said, “This is the blood of the covenant that the Lord has made with you in accordance with all these words.”
9Moses and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and the seventy elders of Israel went up, 10and they saw the God of Israel. Under his feet there was something like a pavement made of sapphire, clear like the sky itself. 11But he did not lay a hand on the leaders of the Israelites, so they saw God, and they ate and they drank.(NET Bible)
116:1 I love the Lord
because he heard my plea for mercy,
2and listened to me.
As long as I live, I will call to him when I need help.
3The ropes of death tightened around me,
the snares of Sheol confronted me.
I was confronted with trouble and sorrow.
4I called on the name of the Lord,
“Please Lord, rescue my life!”
5The Lord is merciful and fair;
our God is compassionate.
6The Lord protects the untrained;
I was in serious trouble and he delivered me.
7Rest once more, my soul,
for the Lord has vindicated you.
8Yes, Lord, you rescued my life from death,
kept my eyes from tears
and my feet from stumbling.
9I will serve the Lord
in the land of the living.
10I had faith when I said,
“I am severely oppressed.”
11I rashly declared,
“All men are liars.”
12How can I repay the Lord
for all his acts of kindness to me?
13I will celebrate my deliverance,
and call on the name of the Lord.
14I will fulfill my vows to the Lord
before all his people.
15The Lord values
the lives of his faithful followers.
16Yes, Lord! I am indeed your servant;
I am your servant, the son of your female servant.
You saved me from death.
17I will present a thank offering to you,
and call on the name of the Lord.
18I will fulfill my vows to the Lord
before all his people,
19in the courts of the Lord’s temple,
in your midst, O Jerusalem.
Praise the Lord!(NET Bible)
9:11 But now Christ has come as the high priest of the good things to come. He passed through the greater and more perfect tent not made with hands, that is, not of this creation, 12and he entered once for all into the most holy place not by the blood of goats and calves but by his own blood, and so he himself secured eternal redemption. 13For if the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a young cow sprinkled on those who are defiled consecrated them and provided ritual purity, 14how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our consciences from dead works to worship the living God.
15And so he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the eternal inheritance he has promised, since he died to set them free from the violations committed under the first covenant. 16For where there is a will, the death of the one who made it must be proven. 17For a will takes effect only at death, since it carries no force while the one who made it is alive. 18So even the first covenant was inaugurated with blood. 19For when Moses had spoken every command to all the people according to the law, he took the blood of calves and goats with water and scarlet wool and hyssop and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people, 20and said, “This is the blood of the covenant that God has commanded you to keep.” 21And both the tabernacle and all the utensils of worship he likewise sprinkled with blood. 22Indeed according to the law almost everything was purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness. (NET Bible)
26:17 Now on the first day of the feast of Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus and said, “Where do you want us to prepare for you to eat the Passover?” 18He said, “Go into the city to a certain man and tell him, ‘The Teacher says, “My time is near. I will observe the Passover with my disciples at your house.”’” 19So the disciples did as Jesus had instructed them, and they prepared the Passover. 20When it was evening, he took his place at the table with the twelve. 21And while they were eating he said, “I tell you the truth, one of you will betray me.” 22They became greatly distressed and each one began to say to him, “Surely not I, Lord?” 23He answered, “The one who has dipped his hand into the bowl with me will betray me. 24The Son of Man will go as it is written about him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would be better for him if he had never been born.” 25Then Judas, the one who would betray him, said, “Surely not I, Rabbi?” Jesus replied, “You have said it yourself.”
26While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after giving thanks he broke it, gave it to his disciples, and said, “Take, eat, this is my body.” 27And after taking the cup and giving thanks, he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you, 28for this is my blood, the blood of the covenant, that is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. 29I tell you, from now on I will not drink of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.” 30After singing a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.(NET Bible)
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016.
On Good Friday, March 29 of the same year, Luther had completed his well-deserved coarse answer to Emser. Here he called the Holy Ghost the most lucid writer and speaker whose writings do not need the help of church and tradition in order to be under-stood correctly if they are only taken in their literal sense. (18–19)
–Johann Michael Reu, Luther on the Scriptures
This daily Bible reading guide, Reading the Word of God, was conceived and prepared as a result of the ongoing discussions between representatives of three church bodies: Lutheran Church—Canada (LCC), The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) and the North American Lutheran Church (NALC). The following individuals have represented their church bodies and approved this introduction and the reading guide: LCC: President Robert Bugbee; NALC: Bishop John Bradosky, Revs. Mark Chavez, James Nestingen, and David Wendel; LCMS: Revs. Albert Collver, Joel Lehenbauer, John Pless, and Larry Vogel.