Unmet Expectations

Something we often forget when we approach the story of Holy Week is the reason for Judas’s betrayal. We are usually so busy focusing on why the leaders of the Temple and the Roman authorities wanted to kill Jesus that we lose sight of what is happening on the inside of Jesus’s closest group of friends. He was unjustly killed for blasphemy and sedition. Of course.

But he was betrayed for unmet expectations.

When Christ arrived on the scene, everyone was looking for David’s heir to be a wondrous military leader who would overturn Roman rule and lead the children of Israel to greatness once more. Like the old days. Or the people were at least looking for someone who would wield power and might with a veracity and perfection that would draw people to him in droves and he would become a mighty leader who would show the righteous how to transform the world into that shining city on the hill the children of Israel were always meant to be.

Yet here is their Messiah: born in a stable to a barely wed, teenage mother. He eats with sinners and tax collectors. Talks to prostitutes. He spends his time healing the sick and raising the dead. He tells people to love God and their neighbors. Then he goes a step further and says to love their enemies, those who hate them and persecute them. He keeps uttering these crazy parables, instead of easy by-lines that people can remember and uttering things about a kingdom that is not of this world. And then he has the audacity to say that he has to die – that the greatest love, the greatest thing anyone can ever do, is to lay down their lives for their friends?

What kind of Christ is this?

In a period of sheer frustration, Judas gives into temptation and betrays his best friend.

And here’s the thing: all of us have had moments like this. With our friends. With our families. Dealing with co-workers or when we have a beloved member of the community that we often go to for care.

There is something we expected and we didn’t get it. Perhaps it was within reason. Perhaps it wasn’t. Perhaps we communicated what we were hoping for, but more than likely we didn’t. And in a moment of sheer frustration, we break. We lash out. We get mean and petty. And then, well, then we sin – because we break the very relationship that Christ has told us to build. That we were made to create and live in and mend.

But there is some good news: no bond is beyond redemption.

I am convinced that even Judas, in the very darkest pits of Hell, was not, is not beyond Christ’s reach. Several authors share such stories and they are worth considering. Because remember, at the end of the day, he was Jesus’s best friend. And yes, their relationship shattered with that kiss in the garden.

But our God, our God makes beautiful things out of dust. Smashed pieces. Broken hearts. Shattered souls. They often make the best mediums in the Creator’s loving hands.

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