“Scenes from the passion” Lent devotion for Sunday, February 21, 2021. Photo by Noah Silliman on Unsplash
“Judas sought an opportunity to betray Jesus” (Mark 14:11).
Sometimes you have to be patient.
Like a hunter waiting in a blind for the deer to wander by. Or in the reeds, retriever at your side, waiting for the ducks. Or for that something you really want to go on sale. In recent days Jesus has been teaching in the temple, where there were too many people around. Judas had to find a moment when Jesus would be alone, or at least away from the crowds. Someplace where they could quietly arrest him.
There were many who sought opportunities to be with Jesus. Nicodemus, who met with him at night. A woman plagued by chronic bleeding who just wanted a moment near Jesus to touch the hem of his robe. A man lowered down through a hole in the roof of a house to have a moment with Jesus. A blind man who yelled and yelled for Jesus to stop and heal his eyes. Zacchaeus climbed up a tree to get a glimpse of Jesus. King Herod wanted an audience with Jesus, hoping to see a miracle. Parents wanted Jesus to touch their infant children.
It just wasn’t that easy to get an appointment with Jesus. No matter where he was, there were crowds of sick people, hungry people, curious people or angry people clamoring to see him. There were legions of demons, committees of self-righteous Pharisees, quarantined groups of lepers, and sometimes entire communities vying for his attention.
Judas had an advantage. He had been a disciple for more than three years. He knew Jesus’ habits. He knew Jesus’ schedule. He knew when he would most likely find Jesus away from the throngs. That moment would be when Jesus prayed.
Jesus would get up early in the morning, when it was still dark, and go off alone to pray. The disciples would have to go out searching for him. But eventually, they knew where to look. They knew where to find him. Judas knew. Judas knew his Lord. Judas knew that would be his opportunity.
Remember Daniel? When his colleagues wanted to get rid of him, they used his prayer habits against him, too. Daniel was a three-times-a-day pray-er. His jealous coworkers got the boss to decree that such prayer was illegal. Break that law, and you are fed to the lions. Daniel prayed. They threw him in with the lions. Angels stepped in and saved him (Daniel 6).
How do you get Jesus alone? Prayer. Yes, Judas will soon lead a mob to Jesus during his time of prayer. But you and I can get an audience with the Lord, too. He hears. He listens. He answers. As if you were the only one on your knees.
Heavenly Father, I just need a moment. I need a moment with you. Thank you for hearing my prayer, my praises and my petitions. In Jesus’ name. Amen.