Friday, March 30, 2018

Me, Lord? (Maundy Thursday)

"Me, Lord?"
Matthew 26:17-30

        “Me, Lord?”
"Surely, you don't mean me, Lord?"

Me?  Good old me?  I know I'm not perfect.  Nobody is.  But, me?  Me, Lord?  Do you really think it's me?  You know I'd never do such a thing.  Don't you?  I mean, I've been one of your troopers.  You know how many church committees I've served on.  You know how I taught at CREW night.  You know how much I read in the Bible.  You know how many years I've been your man.  You know what I gave up for you.  Right?  What I continue to give up to follow you?  You know that, right?  You know everything I do for you, don't you.  I know you've got to realize that.  Me?  Really; me?

Why would you have to ask this question if you knew the answer, either way?  Either you know for sure you are the one.  Or, you know for sure you aren't.  So, why did they all—every disciple—ask that question?

What was going on in their own heart of hearts?  What was on each of their minds.  What were they thinking about that made them feel at least semi-guilty enough to wonder if Jesus knew something they only held in their heart and minds?

So, be honest with yourself.  Imagine Jesus is sitting here.  He suddenly stands up and says, "One of you is going to betray me."  Why would you ask the responding question, "Surely, you don't mean me, Lord?"

What is it you have been carrying around that makes you feel like a betrayer?  What do you think Jesus knows about you, that others don't, that fits the betrayal category?

What does betrayal mean, and how might something about you fit that definition?

—to be disloyal
—to be unfaithful in guarding a trust
—to disappoint the hopes or expectations of another
—to breach a confidence
—to deceive or misguide
—to desert
—to go against your beliefs or principles

Looking at these definitions, you should be able to find at least one of those that fits you.  We are all betrayers on one level or another.

You may have been disloyal to a spouse.  You may have thrown another person under the bus to protect your own fragile ego and artificial reputation.

You may have been entrusted with other's secrets, and holding those secrets gave you a sense of fake power, and telling those secrets made you feel even more powerful.  But in fact, your desire for that power betrayed another's trust and fragile vulnerability.

You may have seen the hopes and expectations for you in the eyes of your children, and betrayed those hopes time and time again, for what?

You may have tried to instill confidence in others concerning your abilities to handle a certain situation.  And then performed in a lame and lackluster way.

You may have been unwilling to own up to the times you fell on your face, but instead denied, deceived, blamed, and deflected others from the truth about you, in order to protect your fragile ego.

You may have abandoned your post, whatever that position was, in order to do it your way.

You may have touted your high personal standards but never saw the huge gap that lay between your touted beliefs and the actual way you were living and behaving.

Those are all forms of one kind of betrayal or another.  I'm sure you can think of more.  We are all guilty of being a betrayer.  Own it.  It may make you hang your head in shame.  But own it, nonetheless.  It is who we are.  Me, Lord?  Yes.

But Jesus' statement moves this confrontation from the general to the personal:  "One of you is going to betray me…"  Jesus isn't saying, "One of you is going to be a betrayer, generally."  It is a more precise statement.  "One of you is going to betray me."

And I think we also have to ask, Why wasn’t Jesus even more specific?  Why didn’t Jesus say, “Judas, you are going to betray me”?  Why did Jesus make it a bit more general than that, not just calling Judas out, but making them all feel the guilty possibility that all of them had something about them that was a betrayal to Jesus.

So we have to think in the particular to Jesus' statement.  And we have to think personally.  What if we were in that room?  For what reason would we ask the question, “Me, Lord?”  Using the definitions I have listed, how are you betraying Jesus?  When we look down that list, which of them makes us ask the question, "Surely, you don't mean me, Lord?"

How have you been disloyal—to Jesus?
How have you been unfaithful and untrustworthy—to Jesus?
How have you disappointed the hopes and expectations—of Jesus?
How have you breached a confidence—with Jesus?
How have you been deceptive and misguiding—to Jesus?
How have you deserted—Jesus?
How have you gone against your beliefs and principles—in Jesus?

How have you betrayed Jesus?

Me, Lord?

What is of great comfort to me is what happened after Jesus dropped this bomb on the disciples.  Jesus convicted all the disciples, and all of us followers of Jesus ever since.  All of us.  Jesus made all believers answer to his statement:  One of you will betray me?  Jesus pricked all of our consciences so that we ask, "Me, Lord?"  Jesus made us all face reality and hang our heads.

But then Jesus led the disciples into what we now call the Lord's Supper, or the Last Supper.  Judgment, then Grace.  Driving us into a dead end, and then plowing a road through it.  Making us hang our heads, but then putting a hand under our chins and lifting our faces.  Making us look at ourselves in a way we'd have rather not, and then making us look at Jesus in a way we rather would.  Making us drip tears from realizing our own selfish truth, and then transforming them into tears of realizing Jesus' forgiving truth.  Sensing the angelic choir pointing their fingers at us in unison:  "You!  You!  You!"  And then hearing the angelic choir rejoicing in song over the forgiveness of one repentant sinner.

Is it me, Lord?  Yes it is.  We all have to be honest with Jesus and say, It is me who is guilty of betraying him.  But, yes, it is us Jesus has come to forgive, despite that betrayal.  It is that personal confession that gains our place at this table:  “It is me, Lord.”  Jesus wants us—his betrayers—at this table with him.  It is us Jesus wants to eat this bread with.  It is us Jesus wants to drink from this cup with him.  It is us Jesus wants, more than anyone, to see the great love He is demonstrating here.  Yes, it is us.  Yes, it is all for us.

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