23 March – Wednesday of Holy Week
The Lord has given me
a disciple’s tongue.
So that I may know how to reply to the wearied
he provides me with speech.
Each morning he wakes me to hear,
to listen like a disciple.
The Lord has opened my ear.
For my part, I made no resistance,
neither did I turn away.
I offered my back to those who struck me,
my cheeks to those who tore at my beard;
I did not cover my face
against insult and spittle.
The Lord comes to my help,
so that I am untouched by the insults.
So, too, I set my face like flint;
I know I shall not be shamed.
My vindicator is here at hand. Does anyone start proceedings against me?
Then let us go to court together.
Who thinks he has a case against me?
Let him approach me.
The Lord is coming to my help,
who will dare to condemn me?
One of the Twelve, the man called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, ‘What are you prepared to give me if I hand him over to you?’ They paid him thirty silver pieces, and from that moment he looked for an opportunity to betray him.
Now on the first day of Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus to say, ‘Where do you want us to make the preparations for you to eat the passover?’ ‘Go to so-and-so in the city’ he replied ‘and say to him, “The Master says: My time is near. It is at your house that I am keeping Passover with my disciples.”’ The disciples did what Jesus told them and prepared the Passover.
When evening came he was at table with the twelve disciples. And while they were eating he said ‘I tell you solemnly, one of you is about to betray me’ They were greatly distressed and started asking him in turn, ‘Not I, Lord, surely?’ He answered, ‘Someone who has dipped his hand into the dish with me, will betray me. The Son of Man is going to his fate, as the scriptures say he will, but alas for that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! Better for that man if he had never been born!’ Judas, who was to betray him; asked in his turn, ‘Not I, Rabbi, surely?’ ‘They are your own words’ answered Jesus.
“Surely not I, Lord?”
It is so convenient to pigeon hole Judas as a dark and murky character. Someone our older generation would refer to as ‘a dog with no tail’; a person who has no gratitude. After all that Jesus has done for him, Judas betrayed his friend and master for a measly 30 pieces of silver. It is easier to place Judas in that little quadrant where would be far more comfortable for us to say “I would never do that!” But really. Have we not betrayed Jesus in our own lives?
Some years back, my team and I were assigned a new account to work on. The client was an on-line fashion portal. With fashion, the trends changed every season and it took a ridiculous amount of man hours to update the on-line spread, as well as physical catalogues – new outfits in several colours and price. As a company, we were simply not equipped to manage this type of client and it did not make financial sense. However, the head of country (i.e. my boss) made the decision to carry on with the business, despite the fact that it was draining our team resources and also their passion. The client was his friend, and he wasn’t going to forgo the business.
Late one evening, I had a call from the CEO of the company. A late evening long distance call from my boss’ boss, at home! He started to enquire about the client, the team morale, the business case. I felt extremely uncomfortable answering those questions, but I also knew that the CEO was validating what he already knew. The numbers spoke for themselves. We both knew that the time spent and the fee paid did not add up. Not long after that conversation, we resigned the business. I can only assume that the CEO had a discussion with my boss and made the decision. It was also at the same time, that my boss left the job and returned home to his home country. I will always remember what he said to me the day he left the office for good. That I had betrayed him. Years later, we found ourselves working across different continents but for the same organisation. But to this day, he would not speak to me. My actions hurt him deeply.
I recounted the incident over and over again. Could I have handled this better? Was I being self-righteous? Was I acting smugly virtuous? Yup, my boss did not make the best decision for the company but was I right to speak to his boss? Was I made an innocent scapegoat? Or was it – just business. Sure, my actions did not cause an individual’s life. But I was certainly Judas in this instance.
How have we betrayed Jesus in our lives, my brothers and sisters? Have we been honest with our relationships with one another? Have we acted like friends to another, only to turn around and speak ill of them? Have we relished in gossiping and passing on scandalous stories about others?
Have we hastily judged others and pigeon-holed them without hearing their side of the story?
How it must have hurt Jesus to know that the disciple he loved and with whom he was sharing a meal in communion with, would betray him. Yet Jesus continued to love Judas and share the most intimate meal of Passover with him.
Today, Jesus continues to love us, despite the countless times we walk the path of Judas. Can I be more mindful of the times when I hurt and betray others, that I am actually hurting Jesus?
(Today’s OXYGEN by Geraldine Nah)
Prayer: Jesus, for the many times we have been self-righteous, judged others for their weaknesses and faults, been cruel and selfish, for the times that we have spoken ill of people – we are deeply sorry. We know by our words and actions, we have hurt you. By your grace, teach us Lord, not to follow the path of Judas.
Thanksgiving: Thank you Jesus for loving us and forgiving us, despite the many times we have hurt you. Thank you Lord for not forsaking us. Thank you for each new day that presents us with a fresh opportunity to love you again.