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I Go as it is Written

Do you believe God’s Word can be trusted? To many Christians, this may seem like an obvious answer, yet a recent reading of Jesus being betrayed in Matthew 26 shows God reaching out to those of us, like Jesus, who faced the temptation to doubt God in the face of unimaginable pain.

As some may know, I have a spine disease that God is using for His plan. I am often scared when I connect the pain I have with the fear of what’s to come, even worsening, and God’s truth allowing for that potential.

Matthew 26:24 has been an encouragement to me over the last year when this phrase first struck me: The Son of Man goes as it is written of him…

Jesus says this line while at the table with his disciples, ‘celebrating’ the “it is time” dinner where Jesus would announce giving his body for the forgiveness of their sins (cf v17-28).

Many of us recognize this passage from the many Communion cups we’ve tipped back, meditating on the blood of Jesus being shed for our forgiveness, and the many wafers we’ve crunched while thanking Jesus for his perfect gift. Communion truly is a gift for us to remember how Jesus had faith amid suffering. Our suffering is as real as His was! There is purpose in both!

21 And as they were eating, [Jesus] said, “Truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me.”

Does anyone know what it feels like to be betrayed by someone you love? The foundations of our world shake us to the core of our beliefs, and we question everything as we seek survival desperately.

My spine disease has challenged my faith because, as the doctors say, I’m the perfect patient. I do all the checkups and exercises… The fact that this is not working, and only getting worse feels like a betrayal from God. I feel like I’ve followed Him, and yet, I think and feel that I am alone.

They tell me to take comfort in knowing I’ve done what I could. That doesn’t help me very much when I wake up nauseous, weak, terrified, and probably a little angry if I’m honest, for what God is going to ask of me today. I fear the future without taking with it the promises of God already written. I only see the Kingdom of Earth and its prince, and I weep.

Where else can I go, oh Lord? Peter once said to Jesus. He knew it would be hard, but Jesus has the words of life, so here I stay. Joseph waited in prison to see God’s plan unfold. I don’t want to wait in sin and when that day comes be ashamed that I had failed to believe just because it was hard.

In the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus already taught them to pray with a vision that Earth bound acts be as focused as Heaven bound, where God is. This requires a vision of the Kingdom of Heaven, to see it while we see the Kingdom of Earth, and then to submit to the one who has authority over both.

In this scene, Judas is betraying Jesus right before their eyes. Jesus even calls him out:

23 [Jesus] answered, “He who has dipped his hand in the dish with me will betray me. 24 The Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that man if he had not been born.”

Jesus can see both Kingdoms, yet in his sacrifice he lived as a human in the frailty that often only sees the Kingdom of Earth and its threats. Jesus sees them here in the one who will dip bread as casually as family, and says, “woe” to that guy. Jesus knows that God’s Word will have the final say. The suffering we see and the workers of Evil displaying their strength to our face will one day change.

This is why he taught the disciples by example to “Watch and pray” (cf v36-46). Jesus showed them, “see, the hour is at hand,” (v45), as one more example of how times can change. In between, while we suffer, watch for God, and pray. Believe what is written over what you see.

Jesus said about Judas, “It would have been better for that man if he had not been born,” yet to all eyes at the dinner table, and even in the garden, it would appear to the eyes that Judas will win. Jesus said that man is cursed!

Jesus said this to Judas even though this world gave him safety (dipping bread before his enemy), money (30 pieces of silver from the priests), and seemingly an escape from God’s wrath (all Judas had to do was kiss Jesus, and they would send him to death).

Reading this makes me ashamed for how often I have thought, “What about folks like me who love Jesus and feel like they should curse the day of their birth?”

Job’s lessons have led to Malachi 2:17... Everywhere I look in Scripture I see God pointing us to the truth of both kingdoms existing simultaneously and how God views my lack of faith. His response to Israeli priests complaining like I have been has taught me once again to wait on the LORD.

17 You have wearied the Lord with your words. But you say, “How have we wearied him?” By saying, “Everyone who does evil is good in the sight of the Lord, and he delights in them.” Or by asking, “Where is the God of justice?”

Since catching this passage anew, I have often asked my soul, Am I wearying the LORD, the God of the Covenant of Blood (cf. Ex. 24)? He shed blood for this promise. Am I this evil generation that demands yet another sign? His Word takes my focus from Judas’s face to the blood shed before Christ, and the blood shed by Christ, so that I may be forgiven. God did that to show the permanence of the spiritual gift by memory of physical evidence. How many altars are built in Genesis to show reminders of God’s work and character, of His ability to show up and show out when the time is right?

Animal blood was shed in Ex. 24 and other Old Testament accounts as a precursor of Jesus’s sacrifice. This plan was not shot from the hip, and neither were we (cf. Psalm 139, Ps 130, etc). History set up its future, which is past tense to me so I can believe the future in my present, based on what God has done. Ha. So simple, I says. Yet, in God’s Word, He gives me faith to believe it is that simple.

Now that Jesus is not here in the flesh, I am that physical evidence, and Phil. 1:29 says I am blessed in this for His sake.

Will I, a believer in the LORD, complain in my soul that the evil are made rich and the God of Justice is nowhere to be found? Am I so blind to believe that Jesus came, died, and rose, and will not fulfill the rest of His promise?

Doctors don’t have a cure for my disease. When I read of Jesus healing the lame, I believe it’s only a matter of time before this suffering is over. He calls me to endure, because sometimes we must.

Jesus came to Earth to die for sinners like me and them. Similar people, those in power and those with no-name (to us) gave him updates, plans and schedules, including when he would die, and Jesus felt that. He took it personal. But he did not reject the Words of God. He doubled down. He took the inbound pass and dunked from full court. Then said, “Cleveland! This is for you!” Okay, that last part is LeBron, but when we sing beside Jesus in the account foretold in Hebrews 2:10-12, we will all sing praise to the Father, “This life was for you!” If, in the end, Jesus can praise the Lord for suffering what was “fitting,” in the eye of “he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory,” so too can I. For we have the same source working within us, and our sharing in this Communion includes sharing in the blood as well as the body.

26 Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” 27 And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you, 28 for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.

God’s Word already established that shedding of blood is required for the forgiveness of sins (Heb. 9:22). Jesus said He will always go where God commands. He 100% believes ‘as it is written’ and obeys. He sees this path as blessed and encourages us to believe the same.

One last thought as we examine the drinking of the cup. Is there a more frightening way to die than to willfully ingest poison? Maybe not directly, but indirectly, Jesus drank poison by accepting this duty. Then he shared that cup with us knowing He would pay the ultimate price. That cup of salvation may include the blessing that we suffer, too. The real poison in this passage is the lie that Judas would win and we are worse off when suffering with Jesus.

Where is the God of Justice to allow the suffering of His people? the priests of Israel asked. Why do people who take care of themselves at the cost of others end up rich and successful? Why is Judas getting away with this!

Hold my soda; this isn’t right! we think. Then we recall Jesus said it was right, if God says, and in the absence of the right time to act, Jesus tells us to wait in prayer and be filled with the blessings of God’s kingdom: “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Gal. 3:22-23). In this Kingdom of Earth, we have these blessings, as a gift to help us “keep in step with the Spirit” (v25), or, in other words, to go as it is written, for the Spirit gave us these words of life to shed light on our darkness. (2 Pt. 19-21)

We know the end of the story from Scripture, but we are still alive and must commit, like Jesus, to going as it is written, by faith in God’s goodness, wisdom and power. The cup reminds us that the victory has already been won (cf. 1 Cor. 15:55-57).

Be blessed. It’s written that way.

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