Beloved Betrayer

I’m back after two weeks.  I hope you have missed me as much as I have missed you.

“Going at once to Jesus, Judas said, ‘Greetings, Rabbi,’ and kissed him.” (Matt 26:49)

A school “friend” invited me to sleep over. His friend joined us to build a hay maze in the barn. I worked toward the left end; they worked toward the right end. When finished, they sent me right; they went left. Every tunnel I came to was a dead end. I prayed, Lord give me strength to push. I pushed hard and bales and I tumbled to the floor. The betrayal was not the blocked maze, but the deception that he wanted to be my friend.
When Judas came into the garden to betray Jesus, he pretended to love Jesus. Judas embraced him, “Greetings, Rabbi,” which means “my master,” and kissed him on the cheek, a gesture reserved for close and intimate relationships.
Jesus showed his love when he replied, “Friend, do what you came to do.” It was not the usual casual greeting, “comrade.” Judas pretended to love Jesus; Jesus genuinely loved Judas, his betrayer.
Jesus had chosen Judas Iscariot as one of the twelve apostles, had entrusted him with the money, he, along with the 70 disciples, had been given miraculous powers to heal and cast out demons, and Jesus had washed his feet at the last supper.
One of the most touching scenes in the Bible, Jesus reaching out to Judas in friendship while Judas is about to betray him for thirty silver pieces, the price of a slave.
Jesus didn’t need words to demonstrate his forgiveness to his enemy. It all came bundled in “Friend.” A powerful lesson for 21st century Christians to imitate. Others need to see Jesus’ love in us, the love shown to Judas, his beloved betrayer, as we rub shoulders in the workplace, the streets, and our conversation.

Prayer: Tender Jesus, forgive me for my lack of love for my enemies as you had for Judas who knew first-hand your love for him. Teach me to call them friends and see them as you saw Judas, beloved betrayer. Amen

Haiku Images

I thought you might appreciate reading through the Haiku Cluster that the judges thought were worthy of first place winner in the competition. All of the haiku spring from the Scriptures related as listed.

Appropriate for the Easter season is “To say ‘I love you’ God sent a cross.” The truth that we are co-heirs with the eternal Godhead is incomprehensible, but the Scriptures certainly remind us how rich we are in Christ.

If a haiku or two moves you and you would like to share your thoughts, I would love to meditate on them with you.
A HAIKU CLUSTER
I bequeath to you,                                                                   Romans 8:17a
every sunrise I’ve painted,
all originals. -God

Adam, while you slept,                                                           Genesis 2:21-22
God slipped Eve into your bed,
then he left, smiling.

To say “I love you,”                                                                  John 19:17-18
we send flowers or a card,
but God sent a cross.

Five little fingers                                                                       Luke 2:7
squeeze young Mary’s nose and face
as God lies on straw.

Often mothers ’ prayers                                                         I Samuel 1:27
mend the broken jars of clay
they molded from birth.

Silent, by a grave,                                                                   II Corinthians 1:4
arm around a friend, healing
a hole in the heart.

Before life’s bookends                                                         Amos 4:12b
squeeze away your last-held breath,
prepare for closure.

When Jesus Was Called a Coward

Sometimes we will do anything to avoid confrontations and keep peace at any cost. We’ll run, hide, or take any abuse just to avoid trouble.

I was that way growing up.

I recall an incident when I was about eleven years old. Outside a country store there was an old fashioned coke machine with a bottle opener on the side. One day we were hanging around after school before we all walked home. Well, a couple of the boys scooped up handfuls of caps and started flipping them at me one at a time. I just dodged them, backing away. They started calling me names, like sissy, and coward, and scaredy-cat. I didn’t do anything to change their opinions. I simply walked away and headed home as the caps bounced off my back with the guys’ laughter and giggles whizzing around my ears. Martin Luther King would have been proud of me.

When the Pharisees threw their “coke bottle caps” at Jesus, he rarely answered their accusations. He just “slipped through their midst” in some miraculous way. At times, they’d get so furious with him that their anger blinded them, and he’d slip away from them unnoticed. The incident in John 8:59, “At this they picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus hid himself, slipping away from the temple grounds” clarifies that he sometimes played hide and seek with his accusers. Possibly they even called him a coward, for a coward is one who’s afraid to fight and runs from trouble. But his accusers didn’t have a clue about his power or his motivation. He hid because it was not “yet his time” to die.

I’ve learned that when bullied for sharing my faith, I meekly slip away with a heart cry that those offended by the truth: “No one comes to the Father but by me” will also someday “slip away” with Jesus.

 

Check out John 8:48-59 to see if you think Jesus was a coward.

God Gets Jealous?

2-01God gets jealous?

My daughter took piano lessons from a Boston Conservatory teacher. Her friend Sarah studied with the same teacher. She complained that their teacher gave all the good solos to my daughter and gave less challenging ones to her. Sarah was jealous of my daughter’s talent. This is how human nature is wired and often reacts. We can’t stand anyone outperforming us.

So we get jealous.

God gets jealous, too.

But for a different reason.

God’s all-consuming jealousy will not tolerate a rival god stealing us away from the true worship of Him. “Do not worship any other god, for the Lord, whose name is jealous, is a jealous God.” Exodus 34:14

When we’re jealous of other people’s accomplishments, talent, fame, or fortune, we slap God in the face and grieve him, for we question his decisions and don’t understand his all-consuming jealousy for us. His jealous heart yearns to keep us as jealous for him as he is for us so that no other god can ever steal away our jealousy for Him!

Arranging God’s Anatomy

Arranging God's Anatomy

For a change in content, how about a review of anatomy to see how the Holy Author of Scripture pictures God in human form, called anthropomorphism, to help us visualize Him.

Mind–Jer 32:35 “My people built high places to sacrifice their children. A detestable thing that never entered my mind.” God’s pure, innocence

Face– Ps 105:4 “Seek his face always.” God’s close companionship

Voice–Ps 29:4 “The voice of the Lord is majestic.” God’s lofty magnificence

Heart–I Sam 2:35 “I will do according to what is in my heart.” God’s autonomy

Shoulder–Deut 33:12 “The one the Lord loves rests on his shoulders.” God’s tender care

Back–Isa 38:17 “You have put all my sins behind your back.” God’s eternal forgetfulness

Eyes–2 Chron 16:9 “For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.” God’s reassuring energy

Arm–Isa 50:2 “Was my arm too short to ransom you?” God’s available resources

Hands–Ps 31:5 “Into your hands I commit my spirit.” God’s firm grip

Ears–Ps 31:2 “Turn your ear to me, quickly rescue me.” God’s immediate help

Feet–Nahum1:3 “The clouds are the dust of his feet” God’s poetry

Reviewing God’s anatomy definitely reaffirms the variety of his eternal promises and commitments to his sons and daughters. Enjoy the anatomy lesson.

The next Umbilical will explore God’s emotional disposition.

When Jesus Was Called a Coward

Sometimes we will do anything to avoid confrontations and keep peace at any cost.  We’ll run, hide, or take any abuse just to avoid trouble.

I was that way growing up.

I recall an incident when I was about eleven years old.  Outside a country store there was an old fashioned coke machine with a bottle opener on the side.  One day we were hanging around after school before we all walked home.  Well, a couple of the boys scooped up handfuls of caps and started flipping them at me one at a time.  I just dodged them, backing away.  They started calling me names, like “sissy,” “coward,” and “scaredy-cat.”  I didn’t do anything to change their opinions.  I simply walked away and headed home as the caps bounced off my back with the guys’ laughter and giggles whizzing around my ears.  Martin Luther King would have been proud of me!

When the pharisees threw their “coke bottle caps” at Jesus, he rarely answered their accusations.  He just “slipped through their midst” in some miraculous way.  At times, they’d get so furious with him that their anger blinded them, and he’d slip away from them unnoticed.  The incident in John 8:59, “At this they picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus hid himself, slipping away from the temple grounds” clarifies that sometimes it seemed he played hide and seek with his accusers.  Possibly they even called him a coward, for a coward is one who’s afraid to fight and runs from trouble.

But his accusers didn’t believe so they didn’t have a clue about his power or his motivation.  He hid himself because it was not “yet his time” to die.

I’ve learned that when bullied for sharing my faith, I sometimes meekly slip away with a heart cry that those offended by the truth: “No one comes to the Father but by me” will also someday believe and “slip away” with Jesus.

Check out John 8:48-59 to see if you think Jesus was a coward.