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Holy Week - Wednesday
on knowing betrayal
Betrayal is painful. We’ve all known it, one way or another, I imagine.
Those of us familiar with the events of Holy Week read today’s Scriptureand just keep going. We know where it’s going, how it ends. We make deep theological statements, nodding solemnly.
But how very painful, this betrayal, for the disciples. They all knew Jerusalem was dangerous for them. It had been mentioned earlier, by Thomas the pragmatic one, when Jesus insisted on going to see Lazarus, near Jerusalem. “Let’s go too - and die with Jesus”. I imagine him shrugging at the futility of trying to dissuade Jesus.
So there they all are, sharing their Passover meal, unaware it would be their last.
Jesus bursts out, so distressed. “One of you will betray me.”
Fear. Anxious looks. Suddenly on alert. “Who? How…?”
An exchange with Judas, that no one else seemed to understand.
And then Judas is gone.
When did they clue in? How many times in the years to follow did they replay that moment? They could have all been arrested, been killed, by Judas’ actions that night.
They never had an opportunity to ask Judas why … what he was thinking … what they had done to deserve this stab in the back. The next time they saw him, he would be with their enemy, exposing Jesus.
And then he would be dead. Suicide.
It’s not in today’s reading, but maybe the point is earlier in the conversation. Twice in the chapter, we see the phrase, “Jesus knew…”
He knew. What was coming. How it would happen. Who.
“I tell you this beforehand, so that when it happens you will believe that I Am the Messiah.”
And so today’s reading also includes an excerpt from the ancient-even-to-them prophet Isaiah, understood to be a reference to the Messiah.
“Because the Sovereign Lord helps me, I will not be disgraced. Therefore, I have set my face like a stone, determined to do his will. And I know that I will not be put to shame.”
Jesus knew. And allowed it anyway.
“As soon as Judas left the room, Jesus said, ‘Now the time has come…’”
Determined. Knowing. Dreading. Hurting. But not backing away.
Inviting them to believe, even now. Especially now. In the face of betrayal.
Oof. It’s a lot to process.