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"The Night When Christ Was Betrayed" (posted October 15, 2020)

   In the evening He came with the twelve.
   - Mark 4:17

In the evening He came with the twelve and they sat down to partake of the Passover-- the commemoration of the deliverance of the Israelites from Egypt. The Lord was about to accomplish a far greater deliverance for His people. This eternal redemption necessitates His death which would be brought about through the betrayal of one of the twelve.

The Lord, in His perfect love, felt deeply that one of those who had lived in His holy presence, heard His words of grace, witnessed His infinite love and patience, should thus act. It was an expression of the anguish of His heart, when He said, "One of you which eats with Me will betray Me" (Mark 4:18). The greater and the more perfect the love the greater the anguish in the presence of such a betrayal of love.

Never had love in all its perfection been so expressed as in Christ, and never had one lived outwardly so near to Christ as Judas. Yet all in vain, for even if he had any appreciation of the love, he loved money still more. The heartlessness of the betrayal, and its utter wickedness is seen in that the one who was about to betray the Lord could dip with Him in the dish.

The institution of the Lord's Supper follows. The words "as they were eating" (Mark 4:22) clearly distinguish between the Passover of which they were partaking and the Lord's Supper. In His supper the bread represents His body; the cup, His blood, shed not for Jews only but for many. It is a supper of remembrance. We are loved with such a love that the Lord values our remembrance of Himself. The blood of Christ in all its infinite value is ever before the eye of God, and He desires that it should ever be remembered by His people.

The Lord used the cup as the symbol of His blood shed for many. Looking at the wine in its natural sense as the fruit of the vine, it would set forth earthly joy. The death of Christ breaks His links with earth and earthly, until at last the Kingdom of God is established on the earth. Today the believers' links are with a heavenly Christ Who has suffered on earth; they wait for the future Kingdom to share with Christ in the glories and joys of the earthly Kingdom.

After the supper, having sung a hymn, "they went out to the mount of Olives" (Mark 4:26). The two things are so marvellous. We could understand better His singing a hymn and remaining in the Upper Room, or going forth without singing. But to sing a hymn when going forth to meet His enemies, the betrayal, the denial, the agony of Gethsemane, and the forsaking of the cross, would prove a calmness of spirit that was surely the outcome of having the Father's will in view and the joy that was set before Him beyond the cross.

The very circumstances, however, that reveal the perfection of the Lord disclose the weakness of the disciples. They can sing together in the presence of the Lord, and yet, that same night, when out of His presence they will be offended and scattered. Alas! how solemnly they set forth what has happened amongst the Lord's people. It is only in His presence with every heart engaged with Himself that we can sing together, as the prophet can say, "With the voice together shall they sing; for they shall see eye to eye" (Isaiah 52:8). It is only when every eye is fixed on Him that we shall see eye to eye.

Out of His presence we easily become offended because of Christ, and offended with one another, and offended saints will soon part company and become scattered sheep. Never again will the dispersed of Israel, or the scattered and divided church, sing together until they all meet around the Lord and see Him face to face.

But, blessed be His name, He never fails; therefore the scattering will end and the gathering time will come.

Hamilton Smith

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