How could everything that was so good go so bad?
During three years of ministry Jesus had managed to heal the sick, restore sight to the blind, give hope to the poor and hopeless, overcome forces of evil, and amass a following of many devoted and inspired followers. People were thinking and saying ‘He’s the One’, the King and Savior of the people. When he finally entered Jerusalem, people were gathering to praise him as God’s Chosen One, worthy of adoration.
Beginning this Sunday, and all of next week (The week before Easter) the church remembers, not the victorious King, Savior, and Messiah, but the rejected, suffering and executed Jesus. With 20/20 hindsight it is easy to gloss over the tragic events leading up to Jesus’ death and resurrection as something ‘Jesus knew he had to go through’. But, on this ‘Journey to Hope’ Jesus’ arrest, imprisonment, torture, and wrongful execution are set in motion when he is betrayed by a close friend, Judas.
Judas, one of the twelve, arrived; and with him there was a crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders.Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, “The one I will kiss is the man; arrest him and lead him away under guard.”So when he came, he went up to him at once and said, “Rabbi!” and kissed him.Then they laid hands on him and arrested him. (Mark 14:43-46)
And he does it with a kiss no less! That just stinks! Jesus may have known that his words and actions were making enemies that would eventually ‘get him’. Still, I can’t help but think that being betrayed by Judas was NOT on his radar screen before that last fateful week. By definition, betrayal is something that is NOT forseen or expected, and as such it deepens the tragedy and suffering Jesus endured.
Most of us have been betrayed at some point, either by a close friend, a spouse, a family member, or coworker. It hurts bad! And, often it leaves in its wake broken hearts, broken promises, and broken lives.
The question we will be asking ourselves this week during our worship celebrations is this: Would WE choose the ‘journey’ that Jesus chose? A journey of faith, hope, healing and grace on the one hand… but also marked by rejection, persecution, suffering and death.
Would we choose it?
I think most people of faith have great capacity for courage and overcoming hardship on the journey to hope. But, we are called by the very foundations of our faith and Scriptures to ‘stick together’ as a community of supportive and loving brothers and sisters. We do not take the journey alone, we take the journey together… and pledge to have each other’s ‘back’.
In the end… Jesus had to journey to the cross alone, deserted, and betrayed. Would we choose it? Could we even?