Grace Heimerdinger-Baake, Ankeny, IA

Warm-up Question

When have you felt betrayed and how did you deal with those feelings?


The COVID-19 virus is not only making hundreds of thousands of people sick, but it has also caused financial hardships for many. An article from Delaware’s News Radio, shared the struggles Delaware restaurants are facing due to the coronavirus pandemic. Carrie Leishman, president and CEO of the Delaware Restaurant Association, and her team worked countless amount of hours to convence the governor not to shut down restaurants in the state of Delaware. The State of Emergency declaration closed all restaurants except for carryout and delivery. Leishman said in an interview, “We feel somewhat betrayed.”

Despite being open to carryout and delivery, most restaurants will be unable to pay their staff, thus leading to mass unemployment and financial hardships for employees and owners. 

These feelings of betrayal spread further than restaurant owners and staff. Schools have resorted to online learning. Churches are live streaming worship. Stores have a very limited supply of toilet paper, wipes, pasta, bread, and other necessities. It’s easy to feel betrayed watching people take the last two packages of toilet paper, leaving you with nothing. 

COVID-19, you have left us feeling betrayed.

Discussion Questions

  • Imagine, you are the governor of Delaware and you must decide whether or not to close restaurants, movie theaters, and gyms. How would you make the decision? How would you deal with the consequences of your actions?  
  • Do you know anyone who is out of work due to the coronavirus? 
  • How have you been personally “betrayed” by the COVID-19 virus? 

Sunday of the Passion

Isaiah 50:4-9a

Philippians 2:5-11

Matthew 26:14-27:66

(Text links are to Oremus Bible Browser. Oremus Bible Browser is not affiliated with or supported by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. You can find the calendar of readings for Year C at Lectionary Readings

For lectionary humor and insight, check the weekly comic Agnus Day.

Gospel Reflection

The passion narrative may be the most familiar story in the Christian faith, but this narrative of Jesus’ betrayal, arrest, trial, and death on the cross is a story which is hard to hear and read. This story is filled with heartbreak, betrayal, loss, and grief. 

Not only does this story relate all the terrible things which happen to Jesus, but it also hits close to home for most people. Think about it. Have you been betrayed, deserted, or teased?  Have you ever felt like God was nowhere to be found when you were in the midst of struggle? 

Jesus has. 

  • Jesus was betrayed by Judas, a disciple. 
  • Jesus was deserted by his other disciples. 
  • To save himself, the disciple Peter pretended he didn’t know Jesus. 
  • Jesus was laughed at, teased, and called names. 
  • Jesus called out to God, with God nowhere to be found, as he was dying on the cross. 

Despite these dreadful experiences, there is hope. Jesus’ story doesn’t end on Good Friday. Good Friday becomes Easter Sunday. Death does not have the final word. Life reigns through the Resurrection. This is the Good News that provides us hope through all of life’s obstacles. 

Many of us affected by COVID-19 are waiting for our Easter morning. We waiting for the stone to be rolled away. We are waiting for schools to resume, for businesses to open, to hang out with friends, and to just return to normalcy. In the meantime, we carry our stories of betrayal, grief, loss, and loneliness with us as we begin Holy Week. We hang on to the hope of the great triumph of Easter morning, knowing the Passion story doesn’t end with Jesus dying on the cross. As we live in this time of loneliness, loss, and sickness, we wait with hope of our own Easter morning in the knowledge that we are never alone. Jesus understands our hurting hearts and walks with us amid our awful experiences. 

Discussion Questions

  • With which character in the Passion narrative do you identify ? 
  • We hope that we would not have followed the crowd in saying “Let him (Jesus) be crucified!”  Sometimes it isn’t easy to avoid the mob mentality. When has it been difficult for you to avoid doing what everyone else is doing?
  • Before Jesus’ last breath, he cries out “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” (“My God, my God, what have you forsaken me?”)  Is it true that God forsakes Jesus? Why or why not.
  • When facing difficulties and hardships in your life, is it helpful to know that Jesus has experienced hardships and betrayal too? Is just knowing that enough?  What do you need to hear when you’re living through grief, pain, confusion, or loss?

Activity Suggestions

Gather cardstock, markers, scissors, rulers, and pens. Cut the cardstock into 3.5” x 2” rectangles. Each person takes two rectangles and writes words of encouragement on the card and a favorite Bible verse. If available, laminate the cards with self-laminating sheets. Think of a person who is experiencing a difficult time and mail them the encouragement card. Carry the other one around with you for when you need encouragement and to remember the love of Jesus. If time permits, you may create more cards for others.

Closing Prayer

Gracious God, you have created me in your image and you love me so much that you sent your Son, Jesus Christ, to die on a cross. Help me to know and feel your presence in moments of despair. Strengthen me to be a source of hope and light to all who are desperate for hope. Amen.