The Call to Discipleship in the Gospel of Mark, Day 64
Immediately, while he was still speaking, 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. But one of those who stood near drew his sword and struck the slave of the high priest, cutting off his ear. Then Jesus said to them, ‘Have you come out with swords and clubs to arrest me as though I were a bandit? Day after day I was with you in the temple teaching, and you did not arrest me. But let the scriptures be fulfilled.’ All of them deserted him and fled.Have you seen those commercials for Naked and Afraid, they do survivor but without clothes. The end of our passage today leaves us naked and afraid and worried about survival. But how did we get there?
A certain young man was following him, wearing nothing but a linen cloth. They caught hold of him, but he left the linen cloth and ran off naked. Mark 14:43-52
The time Jesus has been telling us about has arrived. The Betrayal is at hand. While Jesus had been speaking about the fate of prophets and what will happen to him because of the actions of others. For here it is the worst betrayal you could imagine. Under the cover of darkness a member of your inner circle comes calling you teacher, kisses you and puts you in the hands of those who mean you harm.
So why did he betray Jesus. We know he got money, but is that the reason. Was he unhappy with the way Jesus was preaching the word? Was he wanting a messiah who encouraged people to take up arms and fight against the oppressors in order bring back a time of glory? Did he just always get rubbed wrong by everything Jesus did? He would hear him speak and think that this isn't what we should do or where we should go? So why instead of speaking with Jesus did he offer to bring him totally and completely down? Why did he turn to those who wouldn't just rejects Jesus' work but intended him harm? I don't buy the God intended this and someone had to do it. I don't buy the Satan made me do it argument. So there was a part of Judas that just did not like the vision Jesus was casting? And so he looked for a way to stop it and turned to the people opposed to Jesus' ministry.
There in the dark of the night, away from the crowds. These religious folk who have been plotting his downfall, come in the dark of night, away from those who would protest this action. They come up laying hands on Jesus. Those words to me bring up images of a rough arrest, not a gentle cuffing of hands, but an extra push, a little shove, a slap or choke hold. And when they do this, one of Jesus' followers who carried a weapon strikes back. This follower of Jesus reacts with violence to violence. Everything Jesus has taught, everything he stands for is falling apart. The disciples are losing the vision, they are losing their way and forgetting the call to turn toward God and the coming kingdom. The followers of Jesus flee. The run away. They desert Jesus and flee this confrontation. They leave Jesus alone in the custody of the police. The final one to stay and unnamed young man who when they lay hands on him flees leaving behind even his clothes. The last follower flees naked and afraid.
The disciples are gone they have left even their clothes behind. As followers of Jesus what will you choose at this moment? Will you too at the first sign of trouble, tragedy, death, sorrow, turn away from God. Will you leave Jesus behind? Will you turn your back on God? When you are ready will you hear Jesus' words: "Repent, The Kingdom of God is at Hand, Believe." Will you choose to turn back, to turn around to face toward God?
God when we are in a dark place, where we feel we are surrounded by enemies, when we feel as if there is no hope, remind us again of your presence. Remind us of your everlasting love. Give us the hope necessary to take the next step forward. Show us how to return to you. Amen.
Jesus Was an Only Son by Bruce Springsteen