Lent Devotion for March 21
"Confronted by Adversaries"
Reader: “May those who try to destroy me… "
Response: "…be humiliated and put to shame."
SCRIPTURE: Psalm 40:13-15
13 Please, Lord, rescue me!
Come quickly, Lord, and help me.
14 May those who try to destroy me
be humiliated and put to shame.
May those who take delight in my trouble
be turned back in disgrace.
15 Let them be horrified by their shame,
for they said, “Aha! We’ve got him now!”
18 After saying these things, Jesus crossed the Kidron Valley with his disciples and entered a grove of olive trees. 2 Judas, the betrayer, knew this place, because Jesus had often gone there with his disciples. 3 The leading priests and Pharisees had given Judas a contingent of Roman soldiers and Temple guards to accompany him. Now with blazing torches, lanterns, and weapons, they arrived at the olive grove.
4 Jesus fully realized all that was going to happen to him, so he stepped forward to meet them. “Who are you looking for?” he asked.
5 “Jesus the Nazarene,” they replied.
“I am he,” Jesus said. (Judas, who betrayed him, was standing with them.) 6 As Jesus said “I am he,” they all drew back and fell to the ground! 7 Once more he asked them, “Who are you looking for?”
And again they replied, “Jesus the Nazarene.”8 “I told you that I am he,” Jesus said. “And since I am the one you want, let these others go.”
Reader: “The word of the Lord.”
Response: “Thanks be to God.”
From the Psalm it appears David is on the run again and asks that God would save him and destroy his adversaries. David looks to the Lord for rescue. Like David, Jesus is confronted with His adversaries in the Garden of Gethsemane. He had gone to pray in this place as He had done many times before. The religious leaders had arranged for some Roman soldiers and Temple guards to go with Judas to find and arrest Jesus. They came to the garden, knowing Jesus would be there. When they arrived Jesus took command of the situation, stepped forward and asked them point blank who they were looking for. They said, “Jesus of Nazareth.” Jesus’ answer caught them off guard. We may think little of His response, but it registered very different with those arresting Him. Jesus’ response was “I AM he.” His reference was to the “I AM” answer God gave Moses at the burning bush when Moses asked, “Whom shall I say sent me?” With Jesus’ answer identifying himself with the divine name of God, they all fell backwards to the ground. Jesus used the I AM name in identifying himself as God multiple times in His ministry. The soldiers may have expected Jesus to attempt to flee at their arrival. His response, most likely, caught them off guard. The power, authority, calmness, and control this man demonstrated may have cultivated an inner guilt that we are arresting an innocent man. At any rate, Jesus then allowed them to follow through and bind Him while telling them to let His disciples go. Have you noticed that is exactly what He does for all of His followers? He stands between the Father and our sin, taking the full brunt of what we deserve, while we go free. God’s amazing grace to us. That is what happened on the cross. He was arrested in our place and we go free.
MUSIC: “Amazing Grace” by Il Divo (If you are not weeping at the end of this, check your heart, it’s not beating!)
God of compassion, you are slow to anger and full of mercy, welcoming sinners who return to you with penitent hearts. Receive in your loving embrace all who come home to you. We confess that we have been wayward children. We have disobeyed your commands; our ears have been deaf to your call; our hearts have been cold to your love. In thought, in the word, and in deeds we have hurt others and dishonored your name. Receive us yet again as your beloved children, not because we are worthy, but for the sake of Him who loved us and gave Himself for us. Amen.
–The Worship Sourcebook