Will You Betray Jesus With A Kiss?
The passage of Scripture I read today as part of my New Testament reading was the scene from the Gospel of Matthew chapter 26 where Judas betrays Jesus with a kiss. He had told the sword and club wielding ruffians, sent by the "leading priests and the older Jewish leaders," that "the man I kiss is Jesus."
I have often wondered how it would have been possible for Judas to betray Jesus after all that he had seen and experienced. How could he have done such a thing when he'd seen Jesus heal the sick, give sight to the blind, still the storms, cast out demons and even raise the dead?
And here's something even more astounding: Judas performed miracles along with the other disciples--the Gospel accounts clearly teach this. Think about that for a moment. Judas healed people with a touch and a prayer. Judas.
How could he have done what he did? Some scholars think that Judas was trying to force Jesus' hand. He was tired of all of the talk of peace, and non-violence. He didn't want a revolution of the heart, he wanted a revolution with swords and clubs. Judas wanted a powerful Messiah who would do things the way Judas wanted them to be done.
And when Jesus stubbornly refused to be co-opted for Judas' cause, Judas turned on him.
I wonder how many of us do the same thing every single day of our lives when the Jesus we get isn't the Jesus we wanted. I wonder how many of us betray Jesus when we realize that he isn't going to be the keeper of our cause, the champion for our way of thinking and believing. I wonder how many of us throw him over when we come to the conclusion that his way of life isn't what we really wanted all along.
Because most of us don't want to live a life where we "take up our cross," or make ourselves last in the pecking order. We don't want to live for the sake of others. We don't want to lose everything we think is important in order to gain something we are afraid to trust will give us everything.
When we settle for a less-than version of Jesus that we create out of fear and a lack of faith, we betray him. When we refuse to give ourselves wholly to the notion that following Jesus is indeed the Way, the Truth and the Life, we betray him. When we want life on our terms, in our timetable, according to our own plans, we betray him.
If we say we believe in Jesus, but then live our lives as thought we don't, we betray him.
May you find the strength to follow Jesus with wild abandon, believing that where he leads is a place you absolutely must, and with all certainty simply follow. May you discover what it means to live your life for the sake of the kingdom of God rather than your own false and shaky kingdom. May you find joy in fidelity to the One who gave himself to redeem you for greater things.
And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and forever. Amen.