Maundy Thursday, April 9, 2020
Communion and betrayal. I am going to go out on a limb and say that I believe Judas actually believed in Jesus. By all accounts, he betrayed Jesus, but what if he just believed in the wrong Jesus … the wrong Christ. Through the years, I have heard countless sermons (some preached by me) that espoused a belief in the militant messiah. The one who comes with a sword of justice and who demonstrates the full power of redemptive violence.
What if this was the messiah Judas believed in? What if his betrayal was the plan to reveal Jesus as the messiah we believed him to be all along? Judas is a Zealot, so this isn’t a far stretch. This isn’t betrayal … it is a strategic step in the plan of salvation.
As they gathered at the Passover feast, and Jesus talked about betrayal. Judas’s question, “Surely not I, Rabbi?” sounds heartfelt. “Revealing a secret isn’t betrayal. It’s nudging you in to the open so all will know your true power! Betrayal? No!”
Then Jesus took bread. He wasn’t talking about redemptive violence … he was talking about redemptive suffering. Suffering that would be an act of solidarity with everyone who knows suffering. The suffering that isolates us and finally destroys us!
Right then and there, Jesus was sharing the common meal … communion … with those who trusted and one who may well have believed the wrong thing about this Jesus … this God.
Of course, there are other ways to think about Judas. It might be that he was someone whose heart had turned dark. It might be that he simply gave into the allure of wealth over friendship.
The most insidious evil I experience in the world is evil based on misinterpretation … misrepresentation … even a co-opting of Jesus as one who practices redemptive violence, which I reject. But on this night, we will let it be about Jesus who practices solidarity … who teaches us about a God who meets us in our suffering.
Christ, you teach us of suffering and love. We stand in solidarity with you as you stand with us! Amen.