"I'm what the world considers to be a phenomenally successful man. And I've failed much more than I've succeeded. And each time I fail, I get my people together, and I say, "Where are we going?" And it starts to get better." - Calvin Trager
After saying this Jesus was troubled in spirit, and declared, ‘Very truly, I tell you, one of you will betray me.’
The Gospel reading for Wednesday in Holy Week includes this segment from John. Bishop Smith read it as part of the Eucharist our Sudan mission team celebrated tonight in our last meeting before we leave.
And this line stuck with me. It got me thinking about Jesus being betrayed by his friend.
We concentrate so much on the physical pain of the beatings and the crucifixion, the mental pain of the ridicule and the abandonment. But what about the betrayal. Maybe of all that Jesus suffered, the betrayal was the worst of all.
I think betrayal is just about the worst pain you can suffer. There is something incredibly sacred about our most precious relationships, and when betrayal enters in it is really nothing short of blasphemous -- taking that which is holy and profaning it.
When we give ourselves to each other, when we trust people with all we are, with all our hopes, dreams and fears, to have that trust betrayed is a wound that goes much deeper than a lash. And victims of it are all around us.
John's Gospel says that, before saying he would be betrayed, Jesus was "troubled in spirit." Damn straight! If any group of people would have been tight, it would have been him with those disciples, after all they had been through. To have one of them turn on him had to just be the most excruciating pain ... not just Jesus feeling hurt himself but still loving Judas and feeling pain for him.
And then look at the disciples' reaction. In the face of Jesus, whom they love, saying that he was going to be wounded in this deep way, their concern was not for him but for themselves! Who is it? Who is the one who will do it? "Is it I?" is the question another Gospel puts on the disciples' lips. No concern for Jesus, but plenty for themselves ... which in itself is another layer of betrayal.
And so what does Jesus do? He responds to this betrayal with the New Commandment ... "Love one another as I have loved you." With a love that doesn't stop even when betrayed. With a love that doesn't stop even at the cross.
When we talk about the passion, Jesus' betrayal almost feels like a warm-up pitch, just part of the list of the week's events. I think it was more than that. I think it was probably one of the most intensely painful pieces of the passion of Christ.
Jesus being faithful in the face of beatings and ridicules is admirable. Being faithful in the face of the cross is incredible. But being faithful and loving in the face of betrayal ... that's divine.
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"Christ's example is being
demeaned by the church if they ignore the new leprosy,
which is AIDS. The church is the sleeping giant here.
If it wakes up to what's really going on in the rest
of the world, it has a real role to play. If it doesn't,
it will be irrelevant."