Saturday, 31 March 2012

Jesus is betrayed by Judas and arrested - the 2nd station

Ely Cathedral
43 Jesus was still speaking when Judas, one of the twelve disciples, arrived. With him was a crowd armed with swords and clubs and sent by the chief priests, the teachers of the Law, and the elders.44 The traitor had given the crowd a signal:

“The man I kiss is the one you want. Arrest him and take him away under guard.”

 45 As soon as Judas arrived, he went up to Jesus and said,

“Teacher!” and kissed him.46 So they arrested Jesus and held him tight. [Mark 14.43-46 Good News Bible]

Judas has fascinated us since the earliest days, and we all want to know why he did it, as if to understand motive justified the action. Sin explained is sin justified, we seem to imply. The other thing we do with Judas is to use him as the scapegoat. We point the finger, wash our hands, and walk away.

All this raises for me the more important question, which is where I locate myself in this freeze-frame. Who am I in the crowd? How shall I choose to orient myself towards Jesus? The truth is that every time I read these words, I find myself in a different place, and it’s this dithering uncertainty that is characteristic of so much that goes on around Jesus in the passion story. Most of the protagonists in this drama are ditherers, and I identify with them easily.

Mostly, I react, whereas Jesus, with immense human dignity and divine sense of purpose sets his face towards Jerusalem, and acts. Sure, he stands passively while people react towards him with kisses, hugs, scourges, stinging words and the rest. But he stands in the certainty that all of this is furthering the action of God, in which he shares: Your will, Father, and mine, are in the end the same will. I will be delivered over to the hands of sinful humanity…

And in his acceptance of his destiny, he acts for my sin and the sin of the world, decisively and finally. This is his desired outcome, and it will be accomplished. So as the story unfolds over the next few days, bring your dithering, your doubt and your uncertainty into conversation with the certainty of the love and grace of God made known to us in Christ Jesus. Be glad that the chief actor in this drama – true man and true God – responds to our undignified and sullied reactions with the supreme act of grace: the cross.

Lord Jesus, you were betrayed by the kiss of a friend:
be with those who are betrayed and slandered and falsely accused.
You knew the experience of having your love
thrown back in your face for mere silver:
be with families which are torn apart by mistrust or temptation.
To you, Jesus, who offered your face to your betrayer,
be honour and glory with the Father and the Holy Spirit,
now and for ever.Amen.

Prayer (c) Archbishops' Council 2012

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