Each day this week, we’ll offer a short reflection on a reading, or a portion of a reading, for Holy Week. We hope that you find this to be helpful as you observe this week of the proclamation of the death and resurrection of Jesus for us sinners. In both the 3-year series and the 1-year lectionary, Mark 14:1-15:47 is an option for the Gospel reading on Holy Tuesday. We will focus again on a smaller portion of the text.
–By Elizabeth Ahlman
Then Judas Iscariot, who was one of the twelve, went to the chief priests in order to betray him to them. And when they heard it, they were glad and promised to give him money. And he sought an opportunity to betray him (Mark 14:10-11, ESV).
Betrayal. It’s a dark, disheartening word. Many of us have known a betrayal of one kind or another. A friend whispered a confidence you told them to another person, and now the whole group avoids you. A co-worker took credit for work that you had done, or worse, blamed you for their mistakes. Your parents divorced. Your mother left you. Your spouse cheated on you. The pain of betrayal is deep and lasting because it not only affects the present moment and specific life circumstances, but it robs you also of a person you thought could be trusted. It breaks a precious relationship. It turns love to hate.
Jesus Christ knows the pain of betrayal. He knows the sting of having a trusted friend sell Him out. Quite literally. Due to his greed, Judas Iscariot sells Jesus out to the chief priests for a handful of money. When he does so, it becomes quite clear that his betrayal is of the deepest sort. Everything Jesus has so lovingly taught him is denied and derided in that one action. It’s directly contrary to Jesus’ teachings on money, greed, love, selflessness, and on and on and on. Years of companionship and the imparting of wisdom scornfully dashed to pieces in one dirty deal.
But that is not all that Judas’ betrayal does, or undoes. Judas’ betrayal marks Jesus out for death more clearly. And the agreed upon signal — the kiss on the cheek — is the ultimate treacherous moment. A kiss of greeting, a kiss of peace, a kiss of friendship becomes on Judas’ greedy lips a kiss of death from the enemy.
But the enemy does not win. The betrayal will not hold. Death will not last. Jesus willingly submits to Judas’ betrayal because He is set on healing all betrayals for all of time. He is set on forgiving and undoing every betrayal wrought between men and by men toward God for all of time. In the death to which Judas betrays Him, Jesus forgives and heals all the betrayers, and He restores, comforts and lifts up all of the betrayed. He turns hate to love. The betrayal has not the last word. Jesus, the friend of sinners, the friend of betrayers, does. And that word is “It is finished. You are forgiven. You are renewed. You are loved by the One Who will never ever betray you.”
Let us Pray: Lord Jesus Christ, You know what it is to be betrayed; comfort and sustain us as we bear the betrayals of others and cleanse and renew us when we are the betrayers, so that we may make peace with God the Father and with our neighbors and live eternally as Your friends; for You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.