Friday, March 22, 2024

Bread and an Unholy Kiss

When we talk about Communion and the last meal that Jesus shared with His disciples, I think it's fair to say that we could talk about Judas Iscariot for a really long time. There's just so much in this story. 

It's easy for us to want to write off Judas pretty quickly. He's a turncoat. A betrayer. Selfish. He was there, around Jesus all the time, but he never seemed to "get it." It wasn't for lack of opportunities; it seemed to be just lack of heart. We might even call Judas a "bandwagon" disciple - it seems sometimes like maybe he was bored and got into this Jesus thing because it was a popular thing going on, and he wanted to be involved in it somehow. So he just joined up. 

But to Jesus, Judas was a disciple. 

Don't mistake this - Jesus knew exactly who Judas was. Jesus knew Judas would betray Him. Jesus knew Judas had his eyes on the money bag more than on the opportunities in front of him to invest in better things. Jesus knew that Judas was really interested in being a disciple only because it seemed like something cool going on to get involved with. Jesus knew that Judas wasn't taking His teachings to heart in the same way that the other disciples, or even the general public, were. 

Jesus had Judas at the table anyway. 

Not only did Jesus have Judas at the table, but in the very breath that He declared that He knew one of His disciples would betray Him, Jesus indicated that betrayal by giving Judas a piece of bread. 

The last thing Jesus did for Judas while He had him was to feed him. Knowing all that was coming, Jesus still took a piece of bread, tore it, dipped it, blessed it, and gave it to his betrayer. 

And that betrayer? He ran off into the night only to come back with an unholy kiss. 

That's how Judas betrayed Jesus. As a side note, this has always intrigued me. The guard had been after Jesus for a long time. Jesus's ministry was extremely public. Everyone seems to recognize Jesus as Jesus (not necessarily as Christ, but as the Jesus everyone is talking about) no matter where He goes. And somehow, when the armed forces come into the garden to finally arrest Him, there has to be some sign given to them as to which man is the one they are after. Judas says he will tell them with a kiss.

There's something about the juxtaposition of these two things that just gets me. Something that strikes my heart and makes me think more deeply, even when I don't really know what it is that I'm thinking about. Jesus gives bread to His betrayer - an honest meal, a good bit of food, deliciously dipped into the oil and vinegar that was available and customary. And that man, the one who has taken the bread straight from Jesus's hand, leans forward and kisses His face...but not in thankfulness. 

Two symbols in one story. 

I wonder what we make of them.  

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