As Jesus and his companions shared the Passover, Jesus offered this morsel, “One of you will betray me” (Mt 26:21). I am sure that this bitter herb shifted the mood of the meal. Each apostle asked if they were the one to betray him. There is no recorded response, though the assumption is that Jesus says no to each, except for one.
A unique feature about this exchange was that each of the disciples in asking Jesus if they would betray him prefaced their request by calling him, Lord. In doing so, they acknowledged that Jesus was the Messiah. When Judas addressed Jesus he called him Rabbi. He did not acknowledge Jesus as his Lord. Could this be a tell regarding why Judas was willing to turn Jesus over because he did not believe Jesus to be the Messiah, that he too believed Jesus to be a blasphemer?
Jesus’ response to Judas was an affirmation of truth: “You have said so” (Mt 26:25).
Jesus offered this affirmative response two other times, confirming each time the truth presented to him by Caiaphas that he was the Messiah and then later with Pilate when he asked Jesus if he was the king of the Jews. In answering in the affirmative to Judas, was Jesus giving him the opportunity to look at himself in the mirror? Jesus knew that Judas would betray him, he did not have to make this point known. Judas could have remained silent, yet he asked, as did the others who went before him. Could he have been contemplating shifting his prior determination of betrayal? Was Jesus inviting Judas to acknowledge what he had agreed to do, confess, change course, and ask for forgiveness?
Judas chose his course of action to betray Jesus, and unfortunately, even with Jesus’ intervention, Judas was not able or willing to stop what he had started. Judas fulfilled his agreement with the chief priests to turn him over. Often we set a similar course of action and even when Jesus makes an attempt to intercede on our behalf, we do not slow down enough to hear, that is one of the dangers of not making time regularly to be still, to pray for God’s discernment.
God speaks to us in the silence of our heart but too often we are focused on other things to be able to hear. We can allow fear, anxiety, pride, prejudice, or anger to be our guide. We can be too blind to see or too determined to do it our own way, regardless of the consequences. Our interpretation of our experience may be that the momentum is already too strong to turn around. That it is too late to change course.
We need to know in the depth of our being, that it is never too late to change course, to make amends, to repent, and to turn back to God. The first step is being willing to be still or aware enough to hear or see his guidance. The second step is to be willing to look in the mirror and see what Jesus presents to us, accept what we see, and then seek his forgiveness. Yet, sometimes we feel we are digging ourselves into a hole that we can’t escape from. The answer is that we need to just stop digging, put the shovel down. Jesus will meet us in the deepest of the holes we have dug and lift us out.
Photo: A still point, hiking in Torrey Pines, CA 2014 visit