Returning the third time, he said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Enough! The hour has come. Look, the Son of Man is delivered into the hands of sinners. Rise! Let us go! Here comes my betrayer!”
Remember the last time that you came to the end of your rope. You came to the end of the road. You came to the end of the line. There was no place to go. Nothing more to be done. You’re done. Finished.
And how did that make you feel? In one sense, there might be relief. But there can also be frustration. What was working isn’t working anymore. You were involved with something, someone, and things were going well. Or they might have just been OK.
That’s no longer the case. It’s over. Done.
It could have been a car that served you well over the years, but its finally worn out. It could have been a job that allowed you to feed your family, but either you decided to leave or someone else decided for you. It could have been a relationship, but it’s now over. There could be a falling away. A falling out. They leave by moving away. Or they died.
Jesus says that this part of his ministry is over. This part of their lives together has come to an end. All the time together, travel, witnessing miracles will be a thing of the past. Pushed aside from reality into their memory.
But when one thing ends, something else begins. And what’s that for Jesus? Is it a new and greater time of blessing? Is it a grand and glorious heavenly vision where even more people will start following Jesus? No, just the opposite.
The new time is a time of betrayal. His life, and the lives of his followers, shifts into a confusing time where the wheels of their lives are about to fall off. For the disciples, they will scatter. But for Jesus, he won’t scatter. He’ll be arrested and carried away.
Jesus knows that the arrest is only the first step along a painful path that winds up when he is thrown to the ground. His hands and legs are stretched out, nailed to a piece of wood. He’s hoisted up so that breathing becomes an almost impossible. And as he’s hanging there, bleeding, dying, a crowd gathers to hurl insults at him.
There he is, the only man in the history of the world to always choose to follow God. To do and say what God would do and say. To live like God would. And what’s his reward? What’s his blessing for his obedience? An execution that would make the most hardened criminal run and hide.
But not Jesus. Instead of running away, Jesus runs towards. He doesn’t try to run from the people that are going to hurt him. He goes towards them. He doesn’t try to hide. He becomes easier to see.
Remember, this is at night. In the dark. This is way before GPS tracking or any other modern technology that we take for granted. There’s no streetlights or high-powered flashlights. Escaping or hiding would be easy in the dark. You could easily slip away and live to fight another day.
But not Jesus. He walks towards trouble. He does not run away. He does not try and find an excuse. He doesn’t try and pin it on someone else. He’s not forced up to the plate. He walks up to it willingly.
It’s like that scene from The West Wing when terrorists set off a pipe bomb during a women’s swimming match. President Bartlett describes how, knowing that danger was right in front of them, three teammates from the men’s swimming team ran into the fire.
This is what Jesus did for you. For me. For everyone who would believe.
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
And in order to die, Jesus had to be betrayed, arrested, found guilty, and executed for us. In our place. He wasn’t betrayed or arrested by being trapped. No, he saw it coming and still came to Jerusalem. He saw it coming and still went to Gethsemane. He saw it coming and didn’t run away.
No, he went towards his arrest and death in order to pay for us. To reunite us back to God. To forgive our sins and remake us. Repair us. Reunite us.
In the words of the old hymn,
Bearing shame and scoffing rude,
In my place condemned He stood;
Sealed my pardon with His blood.
Hallelujah! What a Savior!
Guilty, vile, and helpless we;
Spotless Lamb of God was He;
Full atonement! can it be?
Hallelujah! What a Savior!
Yes, Hallelujah! What a Savior!