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Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Holy Wednesday

I went looking for a song, tonight, that related to Holy Wednesday.  I had some partial lyrics in my head.  Interestingly, I found that the lines I wanted were, indeed, powerful, but there were some others that hit me harder:

"You can search for what to say
Or you can let it come to you
It doesn't matter either way
As long as you can speak the truth..."
-Caedmon's Call, from, "Sometimes a Beggar"

Oh, Judas.  I am you.

Hebrews 12:1-3, "Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart" (NIV).

I wish Judas had had those words.  I think he grew weary.  I think he lost heart.  He traded Jesus for thirty silver coins, friends, which wasn't really all that much.  It amounted to, maybe, half a year's wages... maybe.  But Judas didn't make it another half year.  Tonight, I'm left wondering if the amount mattered, at all.  In his book, The Last Days of Jesus, Bill O'Reilly proposes that Judas expected one of two outcomes from his betrayal.  He either expected that Jesus would identify as the Messiah and fix the whole mess, saving Israel, saving Judas.  Or, Jesus would be exposed as someone less than the Messiah, which would lead to Jesus' death but not Judas'. 

The first theory makes far more sense to me than I would have expected.  The second one, not so much.  If that was the case, I think Judas would have continued to bargain.  I think he would have insisted on enough cash (or coin) to live out a comfortable life.  I could be wrong, because we know that desperate people do desperate things.  Maybe Judas simply sold his birthright for a cup of soup.  Maybe Judas got played.  But I don't think so.  I think Judas had spent enough time with Jesus to wholeheartedly believe that Jesus was, indeed, the Messiah.  In a rash act, I think Judas hoped to force Jesus' hand.  I think it's quite possible that Judas would have traded Jesus for nothing but his own life.  Judas didn't expect to need the thirty coins.  He expected redemption.  Anything less would mean living a life of regret, and he couldn't do that on thirty coins or zero.  If Jesus doesn't come through, Judas' life will end.  But remember, Judas is already weary.  Perhaps one of the greatest tragedies is that he doesn't hold on long enough.

We all make choices that alter our lives.  Growing up in the 1980s, choose your own adventure books were very popular.  I don't know if most kids did this, but I liked to read them over and over again until I knew that I had, at some point, chosen every adventure!  There are days when I wonder about the infinite adventures I have missed.  But the thing about life (at least life here on earth) is that we each have a limited number of pages, and we do not often get to go back to one we have already lived, making a different choice.  When we make our choices, we have to live with them. 

Except Judas doesn't...

He cannot see any good coming from what he has done (sort of insanely ironic, since his action does lead to the redemption of the world)!  Judas' regret runs so deep that he decides, instead, to die with his choice (again the irony is thick, particularly if he made the choice to save his life).

We all make bad choices.  Hang on.  Don't lose heart.  There is still a race to run.


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