Imagine for a moment that you are one of the Twelve, one of Christ's own chosen disciples. For nearly three years now you have followed in His footsteps as He has preached, healed, performed miracles, prayed, and taught. Some of His teachings were told to your little band alone, words you listened to and pondered without always understanding them; but in the main you have participated in His acts of ministry, even at one point being sent out, as part of a larger group, to teach and heal and cast out demons on your own.
You have been thinking for some time that He is the Messiah, the Chosen One, the One foretold in Scripture. Now, not too long ago, He confirmed that when Peter guessed at it; and if that weren't enough, your entrance into Jerusalem this past Sunday pretty well seals the deal--He was welcomed like a King! Surely the time has come. He's been saying so, talking with an intensity about the coming Passover feast that makes it seem as though something pretty wonderful is about to happen, though to be honest He's also said some things about "being handed over" and "going to the Father" that you're not really sure about. However, you believe in Him, and you believe that the glorious reign of the Son of David is about to begin--and you're part of it, you're in His inner circle, among His closest friends.
And now you find out that He plans to eat the Passover meal with you tomorrow. Tomorrow! And after that--but you're almost afraid to speculate. All you know for sure is that it's going to be even more wonderful than that crowd of welcome, lining up to shout "Hosanna!" and to lay their cloaks at His feet. You are so incredibly happy, so grateful to God for having selected you to be here, where you are, at the coming of the King of Israel.
You don't know what lies ahead. You don't understand that in the next two days something that is wonderful, yes, wonderful and terrible is about to happen. You don't know that He plans to ordain you to continue His work, that He intends to feed you not only with the ritual meal of the Passover but on His own Precious Body and Blood. You don't know that shortly after that you will accompany Him to a garden where you will sleep through His agony, through the first shedding of His Blood for you, for everyone, for the many. You don't know that He will be seized, arrested, tried, convicted, and executed before the middle of the day on Friday, that two more nights from this night you will be hiding, sobbing, broken, alone. You don't know that instead of thanking God for letting you be present for the coming of the Messiah you will feel completely forsaken by Him, as if He never cared for you at all; you will feel, in your imagination, the cords of imprisonment encircling your own hands, and see yourself dragged away and murdered by the Romans just as Jesus was. Were it not the eve of the Sabbath, you would be fleeing in abject terror; but it's too late, now, and where will you go, anyway? He was known throughout the land, and you will be in danger of being recognized wherever you go.
But it's only Wednesday night, and you don't know any of that is going to happen. You've never been more proud or happy or joyful than you are at the present, thanks to that triumphant parade into Jerusalem, and the promise of the Passover meal tomorrow night. You believe with all your heart that Jesus is God's Chosen One, and you confidently expect him to be anointed as a King. There is no hint, even, of trouble on the horizon; when you look back, in the years to come, on this day you will understand that He knew, and spoke frequently of His death, but that you didn't realize what he was saying, or what a mystery of sorrow the next several days were going to hold.
If you were one of the Twelve, you might have been thinking these things--unless you were the one who was thinking, instead, that it was up to you to get the Messiah to reveal Himself, unless you were blinded by your own greed and ambition, and believed that your secret visit to the chief priests was justified on the grounds that someone had to take charge of things; unless you were the one whose soul was most impervious to His presence, thinking that He didn't know you were skimming from the money bag, thinking He wasn't aware of your bitter jealousy toward Peter, who had been praised, and James and John, who had asked to be princes in His kingdom; unless...
...unless you were Judas Iscariot, who alone of the Twelve on Wednesday night knew that things were about to change.