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Lent is a time for Christians to fully examine their relationship with the Lord. Through prayer, sacrifice and service, we develop an understanding of what it means to "take up your cross and follow me." (Mark 8:34) As Christians, we are called to live Christ's life- not to study the life of Jesus and try to be like Him, but actually let Him live through us.

In my own journey this Lent, Our Lord is asking me to fully understand His love. Through several prayer experiences, I hear him calling me to this deeper understanding of His love- not just with my head, but with my heart. And the key to understanding that amazing love is to understand His suffering. My intellect understands that the Lord suffered, but I have never explored His suffering with my heart. His love is greater than His suffering, but how great was that suffering?

I am participating in an independent Threshold Bible Study called People of the Passion by Stephen J. Binz. In this study, I will explore the meaning of discipleship through the people who encounter Jesus during His passion. These people witness and are impacted by the suffering of Jesus. They saw the suffering of our Lord first hand. It is my hope that by going on this journey through their eyes, I will have a better understanding of His suffering and then of His love.

Please know that I am not a scholar. I have no formal education in theology, philosophy or church history. I'm just a regular person trying to make sense of what Jesus is asking me to do- to love like He loves.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Day 9- Judas Betrays Jesus with a Kiss

Matthew 26:47-50

While Jesus was still speaking, Judas, one of the twelve, arrived; with him was a large 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; arrest him."  At once he came up to Jesus and said, "Greetings, Rabbi!" and kissed him.  Jesus said to him, "Friend, do what you are here to do." Then they came and laid hands on Jesus and arrested him.

Luke 22: 47-48

While he was still speaking, suddenly a crowd came, and the one called Judas, one of the Twelve, was leading them.  He approached Jesus to kiss him; but Jesus said to him, "Judas, is it with a kiss that you are betraying the Son of Man?"

In the gospel accounts, this is the moment where Judas meets Jesus for the last time.  And in that final meeting, he hands over his teacher and friend to the Sanhedrin.  He looks Jesus in the eye, kisses him on the cheek and hands him over to an angry mob.  The kiss is particularly bothersome.  Because it was by the kiss that Judas made Jesus' identity known to the mob.  He handed Jesus over to his ultimate death through an intimate sign of friendship.  It is a sad moment for Judas because in that moment, he rejected the Lord.  He set into motion events that he could never take back or undo while rejecting the love and life the Lord offered him.  No wonder the man hung himself. 

As I discussed in an earlier reflection, I don't understand why Judas did what he did.  I can't accept the theory that it was for greed- that Jesus' life was worth 30 pieces of silver to him.  Judas followed Jesus and participated in his ministry.  Judas was one of the 12 beloved disciples.  Jesus loved this man and Judas knew it.  How could 30 pieces of silver replace that friendship? 

Binz offers another theory as to why Judas did what he did.  Maybe Judas was trying to set things in motion.  Judas did believe that Jesus was the messiah, but things were moving slowly.  The great rebellion Jesus was to lead in order to overthrow the current religious rulers was progressing much too slowly for Judas.  So this was his solution to get things going.  If Jesus were arrested, then he would be forced to use his powers to start this rebellion and set up his kingdom.  So, under this theory, Judas was taking matters into his own hands.  He thought that he knew better than God.

I can not tell you how many times in my life that I thought I knew better than God.  And how badly I made a mess of things because I thought I knew better than God.  Submitting myself to the unknown will of God is HARD.  So, I guess I can empathize with Judas a little in the latter theory.  I can't say that I would so as far as to sell out my Lord, but I can understand his frustration.

We live in a world of immediate gratification.  We want what we want when we want it.  And God doesn't live in that world.  God gives us what we need when we need it.  Sometimes that is hard.  But, in all the waiting, and wondering and more waiting, God forms us.  He makes us into the people he wants us to be.  And when we are ready, he shows us his will or his great adventure for our lives.  But we have to surrender to this process.  And we have to trust.  Judas failed miserably in this area.  Let us all learn from his mistakes. Let us never find ourselves looking the Lord in the eye and saying no to His love.

Mary, Mother of God, pray for us!

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