We are still pondering Mark 14 and how the author sets the scene and the plot to the Passion story. It’s two days before Passover, a big holiday. The religious leaders are looking for a stealthy way to arrest Jesus because they don’t want a demonstration. Jesus is staying with friends just outside Jerusalem where an unnamed woman shows deep devotion, anointing his head with perfume. Up to now we have seen squabbles within the disciples over who should be first, just what the plan is, but nothing divisive. Mark 14:10-11 tells us that in the wake of the shock of Jesus defending this woman and the extravagant waste of money, Judas Iscariot, one of the twelve, the keeper of the money, goes to the chief priests to betray Jesus.
No more scene setting, it is time for the cameras to roll and events are put in motion.
Why would someone who has seen so much of what Jesus has done and who knows whom Jesus is, set his heart to betray his friend? History has debated the motive for the act. We too look for cause when something goes wrong, where does the blame lie? Shall we form a commission to investigate? Who shall we call for witnesses on either side? We are watching this process unfold in our government as we deal with the Capitol demonstration turn riot turn insurrection. Why did this go wrong and what were the intentions? How could Judas abuse his power and trust? Different theories have been offered – was Judas offended by Jesus’ generosity because as the keeper of the money, he “borrowed?” More recently we wonder if Judas was just trying to force/encourage Jesus to make his move to power. Mark gives no comment or insight. The motive is not important. Often we do not know what went wrong. Having done everything right, a diagnosis of cancer comes. Having followed the rules, our car slides on the ice and great damage results. Having masked and distanced, some still gets the virus.
Ultimately “who dun it” does not reverse the event, no amount of money replaces the life, and revenge while sweet for the moment does not erase the memory. During Lent we remember we are dust and bad things happen, bad things happen to good people. The “justification”, finding the cause, of the “evil” may not be as important as the spiritual justification that comes from forgiveness given as we honestly confess the evil we have done. Judas Iscariot and Peter both betray Jesus as we shall see and both are terribly repentant but one commits suicide from guilt and the other finds forgiveness.
We talk about those “skeletons in our closet,” those actions that we hide and just cannot come to peace with. Perhaps understanding why we did those things of the past is not as important as being forgiven. Judas reminds us today that we are dust and we do sin for whatever reason. As hard as we try, we fall short. We’re not perfect. Take a few minutes to examine your heart today to see if there is not a need to confess, a broken relationship that needs healing, or a wrong that could be righted. Sometimes just journaling if the person has passed, helps. Guilt from the past need not taint the events of today. We will see as the Lent story continues to unfold that forgiveness and love are available. There is hope as we are honest. Blessings.