By: Chad Hyatt
It is fitting on this Spy Wednesday, the day we recall Judas making a deal with the powers-that-be in order to hand Jesus over to them, that his betrayal becomes clear at a table. Betrayal is impossible without friendship, without the sense of shared kinship that the image of the table symbolizes so richly. At the table, we share in common. At the table, we serve one another—as the Gospel of John emphasizes when Jesus washes the disciples’ feet. At the table, we laugh. And at the table, we weep together, sharing our troubles with those we love. It is at the table, then, that betrayal can be seen for the deep brokenness within human love that it is. We feel its pain, for we know what is to be betrayed by those that we have loved, those we have trusted. And yet Jesus does not condemn, even though he is no more above the pain of betrayal than we. He still offers the bread of his table to his betrayer. The truth about us is that we have all been betrayed—and all of us have betrayed others. In particular, our institutions have betrayed the poor. At Jesus’ table, we find healing from the wounds of betrayal, through the wounds of the one who was betrayed. Only in the self-giving love of Jesus, who continues to give himself in the face of betrayal, who welcomes all, can we all find healing, forgiveness, and life.
Prayer Jesus, at your table that welcomes all, have mercy on me, a sinner.
By: Chad Hyatt
Reflection—v. 21, one of you will betray me
Few human activities really cut to the heart of what sin is like betrayal. When we sin, we betray God, we betray those closest to us, and we betray ourselves, too. It is always preferable to point fingers than to see our own complicity with evil. In the gospel narrative, it is easy for us to label Judas as the ‘bad guy,’ a villain with a crooked hat. But Judas is in all of us. I think most of us want to reject that idea as quickly as possible; we rush to our own defense, justifying why we behave the way we do. I find genuine love overcomes my defenses, allowing me to see my actions and attitudes for what they are. Jesus knew what was happening, and who would betray him. And yet Jesus sits at the table with him, sharing with his betrayer the most intimate giving of himself possible. John makes it painfully clear that Jesus knows exactly what is happening, and is deeply troubled by it, and yet Jesus loves fully, never flinching in the face of betrayal. In the gracious love and humility that Jesus has on the full display, we glimpse the redemptive power of God’s love for us, even before the cross, even before the resurrection, indeed, a love that has been from the very foundation of the world.
Prayer Lord of love, help me not to betray others or you, and help me not to betray myself but to choose instead to love, even when others would betray me.
By: Maggie Leonard
Reflection—v. 27, ‘What you are about to do, do quickly…’
Things are so much easier to see from the outside. I frequently seek out the consultation of dear friends about things happening in my life, curious if they can see something that I cannot. When the reverse happens, I give my honest observations about friends’ lives. I want so badly to protect friends from hurt and to troubleshoot all the outcomes. I feel privileged to sit with friends after heartbreak in all its forms. But if it can be avoided, I hope it will be. Anxiety for the well-being of others can be a powerful driver, unfortunately, and can lead me to say too much, to be too honest. I really ought to take a hint from Jesus himself. The night before he was arrested, Jesus was gathered with his disciples and found himself ‘deeply disturbed’ by the knowledge that Judas would soon betray him. Instead of trying to dissuade him, Jesus says, ‘What you are about to do, do it quickly.’ Jesus knows that people are going to do what they are going to do. He cannot control the actions of Judas, or anyone else—nor can I. But he can meet the outcome of any action with love and integrity. This is my growing edge.
Prayer Jesus, help me to live a healthy life, and to follow you.