Day 10 of Lent: The Truth Spoken in Love

It is now Thursday evening and the Passover meal in the Upper Room.  Mark skips the foot washing and goes straight to the meal where Jesus says openly, “I tell you the truth, one of you will betray me – one who is eating with me.”  Does God’s foreknowledge, his understanding of history and of our nature, predetermine that we must sin?  That is a question theologians have debated for centuries.  And I would suspect that we ordinary people do too.  That cake just jumped into my mouth.  I couldn’t help myself.  My family is alcoholics and I love drink.  We present this sense of fatalism and in essence dismiss our responsibility.  But Walter Wangerin Jr suggests that this confrontation of Judas and later Peter, forewarning them of what is about to happen, is really a three-fold gift. 

         God’s understanding of our nature and our weaknesses is a gift of knowledge, acknowledges our free will and leaves the responsibility of our actions on us.  Judas now knows that Jesus knows what is going on “stealthily” and Jesus has named it – “betrayal,” sin.  Even as Judas is eating with Jesus and acting like a friend, Jesus is the true friend telling the truth.  When I trained to be a chaplain, my teacher said, “The best gift you can give the patient is to be a true mirror.”

         Jesus does not force Judas to betray him and gives him now the chance to reconsider his actions and turn.  Jesus acknowledges Judas’ free will.  Knowing is not doing.  Realizing how angry I am is not sin as anger is an honest response to offense or grief but it is when I pull the trigger and carry that anger to action that sin enters.  Judas now has choice and voice.

         Thirdly Judas now assumes full responsibility for his action.  Jesus has given him an out.  Judas could confess and repent, but he didn’t.  Even after the deed he could ask for forgiveness, but he didn’t.  No one forces us to eat too much, drink too much, or hurt our friend.  “The devil made me do” seldom is a sufficient or satisfactory excuse. 

         The Lenten journey is heavy as we realize that God knows, we have free will, and we are responsible for our sins.  Likewise we are faced with the truth that God still offers us forgiveness, we are not robots, and we are valued “friends” given responsibility.  As we go to church tomorrow we will hear the Abraham Covenant – the promise made to Abraham over a 25-year period that God’s plan is to bless him to be a blessing.  That is still God’s plan for Lent – to bless us with knowledge, choice and responsibility.  Thank you Lord that I am not a robot but your “friend.”

In honor of Black History month, I offer as my Saturday hymn the first recorded spiritual,, the famous song  “Were You There.”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: