Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Events of Holy Week Part 4--Holy, but Dark, Wednesday

We come now to a day of Holy Week for which we have little information. We do read in Mark 14:1 that the Passover was only "two days away." The Jewish calendar always looked at days inclusively and treated even a part of a day as a whole Passover was on Thursday, but since the meal was eaten in the evening, both Wednesday AND Thursday were treated as whole days so that Passover was, in fact, according to how they looked at time, 2 days away, not just "the next day" as we would normally say.

This makes more sense, then, of how the Bible could say that Jesus was in the tomb 3 days...because Friday night was counted as a whole day, Saturday of course was, and Sunday from mid-night on until He rose was also counted as a whole day.

Anyway, this Holy Wednesday is also called "Dark Wednesday" or "Spy Wednesday" because it is on this day that Judas decides to betray Jesus. In Mark 14:10-11 Judas agrees to look for an opportunity to betray Jesus (see also Luke 22:2-5)...he is "spying out" the right time. It is a Dark Day, both in Judas' life and for Jesus as well.

As you think of Judas as a disciple and betrayer, be aware of one thing...none of the disciples suspected for a moment that Judas could be the betrayer. Even around the Table at Passover when Jesus says clearly that one of the disciples will betray Him, they all wondered who it might be...there was NOTHING about the outward life of Judas that revealed he would be the one...and THAT is scary.

There are many in the church who CALL themselves Christians, and who OUTWARDLY seem to live the Christian life, who end up being exposed as frauds...may we pray for each other that we would be, by God's grace, the "real deal." But let Judas' life also be a warning to all of us...Jesus says it is the one who perseveres to the end who will be saved. The Christian life can't be lived on past laurels or experiences. Daily Continuance is evidence of a grace-filled heart. There is a need for us to guard our hearts and to examine ourselves regularly to see whether or not we are in the faith.

I don't say this to upset your faith...but to get us all to realize how desperately we need grace on a daily basis. We need community to keep us on the straight and narrow, both in belief and behavior.

One possible cause of Judas "snapping" could be what we read of in Mark 14:3-9 (Matt 26:6-13). A woman who had lived a sinful life (a euphemism for prostitute) anointed Jesus' head with very expensive a matter of fact it was worth an entire year's wages!

On Monday we learned that Jesus drove out the money changers and merchants in the Temple courts because they were gouging the poor...from a rational perspective it DOES seem a bit inconsistent that Jesus would care about the poor and yet a year's worth wage of perfume be dumped on his head...on the surface, the disciples had a could have been sold and the money given to the poor.

As inexplicable as it seems, sometimes God wants us to be extravagant toward the Kingdom...sometimes money should be spent in a way that honors Christ in a way different than through taking care of the poor. Judas apparently couldn't handle the tension and it seemed to be the straw that broke the camel's back...he lost faith in Jesus as the One who could deliver them from Roman he agrees to betray Him.

On another level, how might you have opportunity to show extravagance toward Christ and toward the Kingdom of God that would be an unusual use of finances? It's something to consider during this Holy Week.

As far as our U2 connection today...the choice is obvious...they song "Until the End of the World" is all about Judas' betrayal. Even though it doesn't occur until tomorrow, since it was planned today, I'm including in this, there are other songs that fit with the events of Passover Thursday.

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