Wednesday March 9- Not by Force

Gratitude

Spend five minutes focusing on a couple of things you appreciate and thank God for them.

Mark 14:42-45

Up, let’s be going. Look, my betrayer is here!”

And immediately, even as Jesus said this, Judas, one of the twelve disciples, arrived with a crowd of men armed with swords and clubs. They had been sent by the leading priests, the teachers of religious law, and the elders. The traitor, Judas, had given them a prearranged signal: “You will know which one to arrest when I greet him with a kiss. Then you can take him away under guard.” As soon as they arrived, Judas walked up to Jesus. “Rabbi!” he exclaimed, and gave him the kiss.

Everyone knows when you are going through awful times in life, you don’t want to be alone. But, what if awful times keep getting worse?

Everything changes. The mood shifts. We see the makings of a tragedy. Not just for Jesus. For Peter.

Jesus prays for rescue three times. Jesus puts himself in God’s hands.

OK, Abba, thy will be done.

Three times Peter, Jesus’ right-hand man, will deny that he even knows him.

Jesus hears, No, to his prayers. Shouldn’t surprise us if we sometimes hear that, too. But, Jesus goes on. He appears back in charge again.

Let’s go guys. It’s time for some betraying.

The high priest and the chief priests get someone else to do their dirty work. They aren’t in the garden with Judas, but, they send the brute squad. A mob. Swords and clubs.

Nice going, guys. It’s always great when you mix violence with faith. Works out really well doesn’t it? Whenever faith leaders get guys with swords and clubs, or guns and backpack bombs, for that matter, to do their dirty work, they have already lost. Not much of a God if that’s what it takes to get someone to trust in him.  Sorry, we humans are not built that way.

Human beings are no longer human when they have no freedom. To trust in God is about the head and the heart. To be forced to say you trust through threat of violence is not trust at all. It is avoiding punishment.

Every one of us needs to figure this out. Avoiding punishment is not faith. The thing we do best to avoid punishment is tell lies. The opposite of trust.

OK Judas, time for the kiss.

Me

The next time you get perturbed about something, ask yourself, “Where is my feeling about this situation really about me?”

Wednesday March 2- The night in which he was betrayed…

Gratitude

Spend five minutes focusing on a couple of things you appreciate and thank God for them.

Word

Mark 14:17-21

When it was evening, Jesus came with the Twelve. As they were reclining at table and eating, Jesus said, ‘I’m telling you the truth: one of you is going to betray me – one of you that’s eating with me.’ They began to be very upset, and to say to one another, ‘It isn’t me, is it?’ ‘It’s one of the Twelve,’ said Jesus, ‘one who has dipped his bread in the dish with me. Yes: the son of man is completing his journey, as scripture said he would; but it’s bad news for the man who betrays him! It would have been better for that man never to have been born.’

Right at the beginning of the Passover celebration, Jesus doesn’t feel much like celebrating. Neither does Judas.

Why did Judas go to the chief priests? What is his plan? Well, we know Judas sees the spiritual power of Jesus. He knows Jesus is the real deal.

But we also know Judas has a strong attachment to the Temple tradition and following the man-made rules of faith. So, perhaps he goes to the chief priests thinking he can work out a compromise and have both. Spiritual power and man-made faith traditions. After all, it appears Judas never intended Jesus to be put to death (Matthew 27:3-4).

Trouble is there is no compromise.

Jesus himself forces us to make a decision between following man-made rules of religion or living by the power of the Holy Spirit. We become challenged by this. Examples?

 

In worship.

“True worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth.” (John 4:23-24) The sign of true worship is Spirit and truth, not man-made styles of worship and hymn books, and not man-made buildings.

In the way we live.

“Take up my cross and follow me,” not, “Practice your faith when it is convenient and comfortable.”

In the way we treat other people.

“The greatest of you is the servant of all,” not, “What’s in it for me?”

And Jesus is forcing Judas to make a decision, as well.

Me

What is one teaching of Jesus you have trouble with? This could be the teaching where you need to pay the most attention. Try it out.

Monday February 29- Judas: Odd Man Out 

Gratitude

Spend five minutes focusing on a couple of things you appreciate and thank God for them.

Word

Mark 14:10-11

Then Judas Iscariot, who was one of the twelve, went to the chief priests to betray Him to them. When they heard it, they were glad and promised to give him silver. So he looked for how he might conveniently betray Him.

Who is Judas?

Judas was the only disciple not from Galilee. He was from Kerioth. This was a village outside of Hebron, 19 miles south of Jerusalem. Hebron is the second holiest city in Judaism. It is purported to be where Abraham, Sarah, Isaac and Jacob and families are buried.

So, if you are from Kerioth, you would follow very closely the traditions and rules. The Temple and what it represented would have been honored and cherished by Judas, and he would fit perfectly with the whole Jerusalem vibe.

Jesus and the other 11 disciples are all Galileans. They couldn’t be more different. They are from out of the way Galilee, considered a bunch of hillbilly’s by the Jerusalem/ Hebron crowd. They didn’t mind.

Far from the corporate headquarters of Jerusalem, the branch office of Galilee could do what they want. This shows with the loosey goosey way they kept the traditions. Jesus and the disciples are always getting criticized for not following the correct rules.

So, Judas didn’t think like the Galileans. He didn’t even have their accent. He was the odd man out when it comes to Galilee, where they spent most of their time. Tradition-bound Judas was out of his element.

But in Jerusalem it is different. Judas is on home court. He is the one who can easily fit in. It’s not surprising he would get to talk to the chief priests because Kerioth is considered somewhat of a royal town. And so he does. He has a plan.

Me

What are traditions you have in your faith life? What does it feel like when others don’t follow your traditions?