14Then one of the twelve, who was called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests 15and said, “What will you give me if I betray him to you?” They paid him thirty pieces of silver. 16And from that moment he began to look for an opportunity to betray him.The day of betrayal. How do we talk about this day? I have had interesting conversations about Judas and betrayal over the last couple of weeks. The conversations both involved Judas being the most important person in the story of Jesus’ death, and that Jesus knew that this was going to happen and that he was ok with this, Judas was only doing what he was supposed to. Judas was the hero of the story and needed. In the story of Matthew, Jesus speaks of knowing that one of them will betray him. He warns the betrayer not to. Judas takes the money and betrays Jesus with a kiss. Then when Judas sees Jesus condemned he is filled with remorse and kills himself.
17On the first day of Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Where do you want us to make the preparations for you to eat the Passover?” 18He said, “Go into the city to a certain man, and say to him, ‘The Teacher says, My time is near; I will keep the Passover at your house with my disciples.’” 19So the disciples did as Jesus had directed them, and they prepared the Passover meal. 20When it was evening, he took his place with the twelve; 21and while they were eating, he said, “Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me.” 22And they became greatly distressed and began to say to him one after another, “Surely not I, Lord?” 23He answered, “The one who has dipped his hand into the bowl with me will betray me. 24The Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that one by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that one not to have been born.” 25Judas, who betrayed him, said, “Surely not I, Rabbi?” He replied, “You have said so.” Matthew 26:14-25
I am uncomfortable with the idea that Jesus knew who and he was accepting of this. I don’t want Jesus the Pascal lamb. I want Jesus to be hurt and angry. I want Jesus to feel about betrayal the way we all feel about betrayal. It is often a devastating experience in our lives. Anyone who has had a spouse or a partner betray them does not feel calm and accepting; they are raw and hurt. Any religious person who has worked in the church and had someone turn on them doesn’t feel dispassionate no matter how much of a calm nonanxious presence they are. When they go home with family they are hurt and sometimes hurt so badly they wonder if they should stay in ministry, if God really called them to this. Maybe Jesus did know who it would be; maybe Judas was the one who picked him up at the airport on his first visit to town. The advise giving to pastors in starting a new ministry is beware of the those who come pick you up at the airport more often than not they end up being the greatest antagonists to your ministry. So Judas was that one, the one who meets you with all the help and concern, the hope and promise of a new start. He comes to you when you are starting over in a new place wanting a fresh start and seems to be a trustworthy companion on the journey and yet the betrayal comes. So maybe the lesson to learn from the betrayal is how to respond. When someone close cuts you to the quick, how will you deal with them. Will you remain calm? Will you listen to your faithful companions on the journey? Will you seek help to cope and express the emotions and pain with someone safe? And then will you take the next right step on the journey? And if you take the wrong step will your forgive yourself and forgive the betrayal.