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Lent - Day 21

Day 21  Saturday


That which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ (1 John 1: 3).


Matthew 26: 47-50
While he was still speaking, Judas came, one of the twelve, and with him a great crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests and the elders of the people. Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, “The one I will kiss is the man; seize him.” And he came up to Jesus at once and said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” And he kissed him. But Jesus said to him, “Friend, do what you came to do.” Then they came up and laid hands on Jesus, and seized him.
Luke 22: 47-8
While he was still speaking, there came a crowd, and the man called Judas, one of the twelve, was leading them. He drew near to Jesus to kiss him, but Jesus said to him, “Judas, would you betray the Son of Man with a kiss?”


Jesus finished his struggle in prayer just in time. From the agony of resisting to the peace of resolution, he would hereafter show an uncanny calm in the face of his passion. He saw Judas leading the soldiers with swords and the mob with clubs.  He accepted the kiss of greeting. But he made note of the irony. Gently, it seems, he became the mirror for Judas as he called his name. “Would you betray me with a kiss?”
For Judas, it must have all seemed too smooth. Easy money to take them to Jesus. So predictable that he would be on the Mount of Olives amidst the trees making his prayers. So ridiculous that the authorities asked him to i.d. a man they’d seen all week in public places. 
Was his skin crawling as he saw it through? Did he think of turning back? Was his stomach sick or his heart pounding? There is no indication of any pause. He just saw it through for reasons we cannot fathom. 
We all know these moments. The millisecond before you threw the punch, knowing the fight that would follow. The clamping down on emotion just as you deliver the words that will break a heart. The pause before you press “send” on an incendiary email. The sound of an invisible door closing as you take the money, sign your name or press the trigger. No return. We did it and nothing will ever be the same. Something dies. Something is cut off. God seems to depart. The loneliness washes in like a tide. 


As before, we note how deliberate betrayal of God cuts off our ability to pray. So Judas could only cry out as a solitary man; his prayers were but self-conversations.
He knew what I would do. 
He told the others it was me while I was still there.
That backed me into the corner.
One more chance to say, “No” and face their stupid, pious looks.
He told me to do it quickly, as if he wanted me to do it.
It was so quick. So easy.
I greeted him like an old friend.
I called him Teacher like I always had,
But he knew I would learn no more from him.
I kissed him full on the cheek.
I can still feel the tickle from his thick beard.
For a flash, our eyes met. His gaze steady, mine in retreat.
I knew I would never touch him again.
Never see him again.
He called me by name, Judas!
He made sure no one would ever forget me.
Judas is betrayal with a soft word and a tender kiss.
I did it. Played my part. Took the extreme.
So everyone else could feel better about themselves.
But they’re not so different. 
They just lacked courage to see it through.
Only I did it. Handed over the Son of Man as smoothly as a kiss.
Only I. Alone. Unique. The baddest. The boldest. The I, I am.
These are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name (John 20: 31).


We know that Jesus knew the psalms and prayed them regularly. His many quotations of psalms in his speech reveal that Jesus knew the psalms intimately. They were ready at hand for his use. In fact, these prayers written a millennium before Jesus walked among us, provided scripts for events Jesus would experience. He could find lyrics for his life as he recalled the psalms in specific situations. Consider how these excerpts from David’s Psalm 55 might have been meaningful to Jesus during Judas’ betrayal. And consider how reading this psalm following his actions might have seared Judas’ soul. 
My heart is in anguish within me;
     the terrors of death have fallen
          upon me.
Fear and trembling come upon me,
    and horror overwhelms me.
And I say, “Oh, that I had wings like
          a dove!
    I would fly away and be at rest;
yes, I would wander far away;
    I would lodge in the wilderness;
I would hurry to find a shelter
    from the raging wind and tempest.”
For it is not an enemy who taunts
    then I could bear it;
it is not an adversary who deals
          insolently with me—
    then I could hide from him.
But it is you, a man, my equal,
    my companion, my familiar friend.
We used to take sweet counsel
    within God's house we walked in
          the throng . . . 
My companion stretched out his hand
          against his friends;
    he violated his covenant.
His speech was smooth as butter,
    yet war was in his heart;
his words were softer than oil,
    yet they were drawn swords.
Cast your burden on the LORD,
    and he will sustain you;
he will never permit
    the righteous to be moved.
But you, O God, will cast them down
    into the pit of destruction;
men of blood and treachery
    shall not live out half their days.
But I will trust in you.


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