Follow Jesus (Holy Week Wednesday)
Today's devotional comes from "Falling Into Goodness," a book of Lenten reflections by Chuck DeGroat. You can purchase the entire book on Amazon in paperback or for Kindle.
Wednesday in Holy Week
After saying this Jesus was troubled in spirit, and declared, “Very truly, I tell you, one of you will betray me.” The disciples looked at one another, uncertain of whom he was speaking. John 13:21-22
Betrayal stings. It sends a singe of shame to the soul’s depths. It prompts us to question everyone and everything. It shatters trust. It plunges the soul into a panicked tailspin.
Jesus was fully human, full of emotion – confusion, sadness, shame, anger, joy, ecstasy, contentment. How must this betrayal have felt? How did he not turn over the table in rage?
One of his closest confidantes cut a deal with the other side. With the Evil One, no less. Judas was a friend he walked alongside on long journeys – from Jerusalem to Galilee and back for a full 240 miles – and several times, I believe. I imagine that there were dozens of conversations during unhurried moments. Storytelling. Laughter. Breaking bread.
I’d kick him out immediately. But no, Jesus set the table. He invited his betrayer to the table. He broke bread with him yet again. In a strange act of hospitality, Jesus served his betrayer.
To follow Jesus is to enter in to the matrix of relationship. It is to move toward others with vulnerability. It is to show empathy. It is to give and receive. In a world calloused by relational wounds, closed off to intimacy, and clamoring for cheap imitations, Jesus paves the way for risky, vulnerable intimacy. Jesus risks it all – even betrayal – to fulfill his sacred vocation.
Last year a person I’d been counseling took a bold step into truth in her closest relationships. She named toxic and dysfunctional patterns that threatened shalom in her family, including her father’s alcoholism and rage. She did all of this in the name of Jesus and for the sake of integrity. Within days, her father – the family’s patriarch – told everyone in the family to cut her off. Social media connections were severed. Phone messages and texts went unreturned. To return, she faced the choice of forfeiting her integrity. She has been betrayed by her closest ones.
However, she continued to follow Jesus. In time, a new community emerged for her, marked by Christ-like humility, giving and receiving, justice-seeking, peacemaking, and vulnerable relationship. This became her new family. And though filled with grief, she continues to walk toward the Cross. The devastating episode returned her to the earth, to her ground, where like that grain of wheat she sat with tears until her anger turned toward compassion. She shared this note with me just a few weeks ago:
Dear Family, I miss you. How I longed to see you at Thanksgiving. There was a fresh sense of grief as I thought about how you’ve cut me off. I want us to live in truth together, and if we cannot I will grieve some more. But know this – I have not cut you off. You are welcome at my table.
Lamb of God, you do not cut me off. But sometimes I cut myself off from you. Sometimes I do this because I’ve felt the sting of betrayal, and struggle to trust. Mend my heart. Soften it. Allow me to open my table once again, even to my enemies. Amen