WEDNESDAY (April 1, AD 33)
The Plot against Jesus
Pandemic shelter in place aside, I do a lot of self-reflection on this day during Holy Week. Maybe I have a guilty-bone or something, but I feel like I’m always up to no good, even when I am not. I have a lot of police friends, and when I am around them I feel like they’re out to get me. When I see a priest or a pastor and I feel the need to confess my sins. Imagine what it was like for me when I was a pastor? I always feel like I have a guilty conscious. Guilt is not something I shy away from because it is something that can be both beneficial and productive.
Guilt is something that can be both beneficial and productive.
Brene Brown highlights in a blog post that the difference between shame and guilt is shame is destructive and makes us feel unworthy, whereas guilt is a motivator for change. I would concur with her about the difference between shame and guilt. I never run from feelings of guilt, instead I try to seek its source and lean into the understanding of why I feel the way I do about my guilty feelings.
So why is it on this day during Holy Week do I feel guilty? I think it’s because on this Holy Week day; I feel most akin to seeing myself in the narrative of Jesus and the disciples. It’s true, if you have any infinity to read the Bible then you will try to see yourself in its stories. There is nothing wrong with that; the Bible is a story about God, humanity, and how God interacts with us humans. It’s a human story that illicit us to get lost in each individual’s story. We see ourselves in their downfalls, their proud moments, their births, their love-making, their beatings, their triumphs, and defeats. We see them helping widows and orphans and then sleeping with another man’s wife. We see ourselves in their shame, guilt, and faithfulness.
We want to see ourselves in the biblical narratives of our faith heroes, and we hope to see ourselves in their faithfulness to God. But if we’re honest, we mostly see ourselves win, lose, and draw in matters of faith just like them.
So why is it on this day during Holy Week do I feel guilty? The reason is that I see myself in Judas’ narrative. I resonate with Judas Iscariot. I know what it’s like to have the temptation to give up Jesus to the authorities. It is very real to me. I do it most days; I give him up to the authorities of my life like food, anger, depression, anxiety, lust, and the list could go on…
401k’s and Tacos
I’ve sold Jesus to authorities for a few pieces of silver many times, and I can honestly say I will do it again. I don’t mean to, but I know I will do it. I see myself in Judas Iscariot’s story because it is the most human to me. Judas gave into his fears and greed. He feared that Jesus wasn’t who he said he was, even though he was around Jesus a lot. Judas gave into his greed because he wanted to know his future well-being was set, so he took his life into his own hands. It’s like Jesus wasn’t moving fast enough for him. I resonate with that.
I know some of you might say to yourselves that you’d never do that; it was only silver. Well, what if it was gold instead? Or diamonds or tacos or Instagram likes or 401K investments?
I admit it. I think I might have entertained the deal the Jewish authorities presented Judas with. The reason the other disciples didn’t is that as far as we know they never got the opportunity. Although, Peter did when he denied Jesus three times, so to speak.
God’s New Mercies and a Better Ending to our Stories
The best part of Judas’ narrative is that ours doesn’t have to end like his. As the writer of Lamentations says, the steadfast love of the Lord never ends; His mercies never end; they are new every morning; and His faithfulness is beyond measure (Lamentations 3:22-23, ESV).
This means if you still have breath in your lungs, then you still have hope that your story can have a different ending than Judas Iscariot’s.