I’m back after two weeks. I hope you have missed me as much as I have missed you.
“Going at once to Jesus, Judas said, ‘Greetings, Rabbi,’ and kissed him.” (Matt 26:49)
A school “friend” invited me to sleep over. His friend joined us to build a hay maze in the barn. I worked toward the left end; they worked toward the right end. When finished, they sent me right; they went left. Every tunnel I came to was a dead end. I prayed, Lord give me strength to push. I pushed hard and bales and I tumbled to the floor. The betrayal was not the blocked maze, but the deception that he wanted to be my friend.
When Judas came into the garden to betray Jesus, he pretended to love Jesus. Judas embraced him, “Greetings, Rabbi,” which means “my master,” and kissed him on the cheek, a gesture reserved for close and intimate relationships.
Jesus showed his love when he replied, “Friend, do what you came to do.” It was not the usual casual greeting, “comrade.” Judas pretended to love Jesus; Jesus genuinely loved Judas, his betrayer.
Jesus had chosen Judas Iscariot as one of the twelve apostles, had entrusted him with the money, he, along with the 70 disciples, had been given miraculous powers to heal and cast out demons, and Jesus had washed his feet at the last supper.
One of the most touching scenes in the Bible, Jesus reaching out to Judas in friendship while Judas is about to betray him for thirty silver pieces, the price of a slave.
Jesus didn’t need words to demonstrate his forgiveness to his enemy. It all came bundled in “Friend.” A powerful lesson for 21st century Christians to imitate. Others need to see Jesus’ love in us, the love shown to Judas, his beloved betrayer, as we rub shoulders in the workplace, the streets, and our conversation.
Prayer: Tender Jesus, forgive me for my lack of love for my enemies as you had for Judas who knew first-hand your love for him. Teach me to call them friends and see them as you saw Judas, beloved betrayer. Amen