John 18: 10-11 King James Version
“Then Simon Peter, having a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant and cut off his right ear. The servant’s name was Malchus. Then Jesus said to Peter, ‘Put your sword into the sheath. Shall I not drink the cup which My Father has given me?’”
Think of a time when you felt betrayed by one in your close circle of family and friends. Have you ever felt betrayed by your faith in God, let alone trust in people?
If you are lucky enough never to have experienced such a betrayal, think of a time you may have even betrayed your higher self or betrayed a call or nudge from God, or your own inner truth of what you really needed or wanted, physically, emotionally, financially, even spiritually?
In times of betrayal, particularly from outside forces, our first response can be one of revenge or “poor me” or going into a sort of survival mode of fight or flight or even freeze in order to protect ourselves and those around us. Sometimes we seek out our comrades to commiserate with us, gathering agreement and support for our blameless behavior and unjust treatment, seeking pity from our personal posse perhaps to decrease any awareness of our part in the drama, then missing God’s presence in the midst of the challenge.
In Jesus’ case, he knew he was going to be betrayed, announced it at the Passover meal, even seeing his betrayal as part of the divine plan of salvation, or at the very least, predictable given the zealous nature of Judas and Jesus’ being a different kind of zealous Messiah than Judas had in mind. Judas’s job in the disciple circle was tied to money, so his sense of security and practicality may have also come into play in making his selling out more predictable and understandable on a less cosmic stage.
Besides, Jesus had already been betrayed three times by the disciples in the Garden when they did not stay awake with him in his hours of deep need, despair and prayer. Likewise, Jesus would be betrayed by all his disciples at his trial and crucifixion, and again unrecognized in his appearances after his resurrection by his own closest followers, then doubted by Thomas specifically. Throughout his ministry, Jesus was no stranger to betrayal, even by his own hometown and religious community.
But do we ever want and become used to betrayals of any kind, such as a privileged piece of personal information shared with a church member which is then shared without permission with a larger praying body? We are all capable of betrayal, of others, of God, or our best laid plans, of ourselves. How might we acknowledge this, see ourselves in Judas in some way, and clean up our own act?
Like Judas’ betrayal, Peter’s righteous indignation and impulsive act of revengeful, eye-for-an-eye violence, was also predictable given his love of Jesus and previous spontaneous, bold acts of emotion. From a human standpoint, I am sure he was shocked to have his possessiveness and protection of Jesus in this invasive and frightening situation be unwelcome and toned down by Jesus’ now fully accepted, fearless facing of his destiny with death. In coming to the end of his earthly mission, we see and hear Jesus’ clear commitment to live and die according to his Father’s will and grand design as he says, “Shall I not drink the cup my Father has given me?”
It’s a profound and important question for each of us to ask ourselves, without fear, self-seeking or self-pity, but with an honest, open, and willing heart and mind. What is the cup your Mother Father God has given you personally? What spiritual gifts are in it? What challenges? What blessings? And for what Godly purpose have you been poured this cup? Do you drink it down to the last drop with a trusting heart, without complaining?