I was sitting in Good Friday service.
My daughter Kayden and I had rushed in, an unlucky bout with missing keys put us a little behind the eight ball for on time arrival. I had a short (but meaningful – quality versus quantity) discussion with Kayden about what this service is all about – and I asked her to concentrate on what Jesus had done for her.
She asked why everyone was dressed in black, why the lights were low, why the mood was somber.
I told her we were mourning.
And then, of course, she asked what mourning was. I had to retune my brain to the mind of a 10 year old and explain that when people attend funerals they often wear black out of respect, grief, and honor for the deceased (I said dead to Kayden).
Her eyes and her head bobbed in understanding.
I could now breathe and concentrate on what I was supposed to be concentrating on – the fact that Jesus died on the cross.
I was closing my eyes, soaking in the scripture reading, the liturgy, the music. I was feeling the arms of my Jesus loving on me. It was beautiful to feel His grace, His love, His kindness. I wrapped my arm around Kayden and listened to her sweet little girl voice sing, “Light of the world, you stepped down into darkness, opened my eyes let me see.”
Suddenly I was jolted into reality. One of the readers was quoting Matthew 26. Then she came to the verse, the one where Jesus speaks in the Garden of Gethsemane, the one that struck my heart to the core:
“Rise! Let us go! Here comes my betrayer!”
I have heard that verse for 39 years of my life during 39 Easters in 39 churches from 39 different (or the same) preachers. I have read that verse over the decades in bible studies and small groups. I have quoted it, read it out loud, heard it read, heard it sung, seen it acted, watched it play out in countless Easter productions.
But it’s almost as if I could look down and see the coins in my hand. If I moved my fingers around I could feel them tinkling, their metal surfaces glinting in the candlelight of the darkened room.
I felt the guilt rise in my chest and the tears fill my eyes, my stomach sour and my throat dry.
I immediately remembered my decisions, my choices, my sins. Every unkind word, every greedy purchase, every material gain, every intentional slight, every disregard of the needy, every selfish thought, every jealous act, every prideful turn of the head.
And then it came – like a revelation unlike the 39 years before me.
I’m the betrayer.
I looked at my little girl, only 10 short years of her life lived, and I knew I would be kicking and screaming to let her go, sacrifice her for someone like me.
And the temptation here is to say, well, I’ve done some bad things – made some iffy choices – but I’m not so bad. Let’s look at the news, look at the prisons, look at the addicts, look at the terrorists, look at ISIS, look at…
I am the betrayer.
All sin is sin. There is no hierarchy, no level at which it was just really horrible and unbelievable that Jesus would die for them.
Jesus died for me.
And before Him, I was pretty horrible.
And the more I get to know Him, the more I realize I am NOTHING like Him.
But here’s the thing, peeps (like the reference? I thought it was pretty clever), the fact that I am NOTHING like Him is pretty freeing.
Because I will never be just like Jesus.
But HE can use ME as a vessel to reach all the betrayers of the world just like me. Because when I realize I’m not better than any of them, I am way more successful at reaching them.
Because I realize my sin is just as icky, just as deplorable, just as rotten, just as bottom feederish.
I am no better than any other betrayer in this world.
He is the only thing that is good in me.
And oh, how good He is.
So when I joined my husband’s side to administer the bread and the juice-wine (juicy wine? wine that’s juice?), I looked each person clearly in the face and watched them dip their bread in the cup – the body of our Lord Jesus Christ that was broken for them, the blood that was shed – I saw a fellow betrayer.
A betrayer saved, justified, and gracified (new word) by the one who died for the worst of us. And that’s all of us.
So tomorrow when we all dress in our finest pastels (I will be wearing my signature black and red or maybe I’ll match my hubby and wear orange) and celebrate the Risen One, the one whose broken body gave this betrayer life literally from death, I am going to spill out like never before (I know, Grace Point peeps, brace yourselves).
Because if He would die and rise for someone like me, I certainly shouldn’t be silent.
I’m a reformed betrayer.
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