Lent - When we are betrayed
As soon as Judas took the bread, Satan entered into him. So Jesus told him, "What you are about to do, do quickly."
~ John 13:27
Years ago a friend that I had entrusted in so much turned out to be someone that would inflict great pain and woundedness. I knew from his past relationships with people that he could "be like this," but I aired on the what I was experiencing first-hand, and hoped that I would not go the path that many people had, but unfortunately... it proved to be a bad choice on my part.
We only know of the initial "follow me" requests among the first disciples. Judas is often thought of as the "mysterious disciple," who enters biblical history as the one disciple who betrays Jesus with a kiss for thirty pieces of silver.
Jesus informs him at dinner, "What you are about to do, do it quickly." Almost an order to do it before he changes his mind, thus putting all the plans into motion.
I can remember through seminary struggling with the notion that Judas was part of "God's plan," in order for Jesus to be crucified. I can remember being present with a family who had just lost their daughter to cancer, and a relative walking out of the room and saying, "Well you know it is just part of God's plan."
The idea of betrayal and woundedness, in some way associated with God, is something we all struggle to understand. The friend that I was referring to earlier was a proclaimed Christian, and we had even attended church together. His prayers were humble and I always felt that his actions were sincere.
Jesus knew. Jesus insisted that he do what he needed to do in order that the "Son of Man" might be glorified. In order for the resurrection there had to be a death and the tomb experience. In many ways I realize that the death had to be public. The man who had ridden into the city on a colt, that was welcomed by the people, had to be crucified in a place and way that all might see. To watch, and to know, that he was put to death.
"What you are about to do," is the face to face encounter with betrayal, and it begins with everyone sitting around a table.
I can remember the next day after I discovered what my friend had done and how hurt I was. I struggled to understand how I could have "trusted" someone like him. I just remember the phone call I had with him, and how he openly shared with me why he had done what he had, and him telling me how I "knew" he was like this.
I can only imagine what went through the mind of Jesus. The touch of the lips of Judas on his cheek, and then the "look" that must have followed. The immediate draw of a sword from Peter, as he then strikes a blow, and then Jesus healing the man who was injured. The complexity of the situation is compounded by the thought that somehow this is all "part of God's plan."
For me, Maundy Thursday is filled with so many emotions, that then are met with the words of Jesus the next day as he hangs on a cross dying.
In many ways, the details lead us to our own wounds, where we have been hurt by others. To see Jesus in the darkness of the garden betrayed by a kiss. Then as things escalate, the images make Jesus look all too human, and we recognize our own selves.
The human condition is filled with moments where we meet Maundy Thursday. There are these moments throughout our lives that teach us, and change us. Today is just one of those days where we meet Jesus, and can walk with him in our humanity.
Stay in God's grip!
G. Todd Williams (c) 2020
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Rev. G. Todd Williams lives in the Houston metro area and is a Hospice Chaplain at Essential Hospice, Webster, Texas, and is an ordained Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) pastor.