There is much to be gained by studying the lifestyle of Jesus.
It’s not just the miracles or the Messiah “rap.” It’s mostly his message and his management style. Since he was human, he was completely capable of error–to such a degree that the Good Book tells us “he learned through what he suffered.”
We also can garner great insight from the mistakes Jesus made.
One of those was Judas.
We will never know why Jesus chose Judas. It wasn’t because the Iscariot was predestined to be the betrayer of Christ. If you believe that, you should go home, don your Medieval helmet and launch a Crusade to take back the Holy Lands.
Maybe Jesus saw something in the young Judean. It never came to fruition–but there still is much we can curry from studying the relationship. It is a tenuous friendship which came to a head ten days before the Resurrection–in Bethany just outside Jerusalem.
Mary, the sister of Lazarus, who had recently risen from the dead, held a party. I think having a brother who survived “grave circumstances” is well worth some nachos and punch. At the height of the affair, Mary decided to crack open a family heirloom–a flask of expensive burial perfume reserved for the family–which she chose to use to anoint the feet of Jesus. It was an extraordinary, tender moment between Mary of Bethany and Jesus of Nazareth.
The aroma filled the room–an intoxicating fragrance.
But Judas was pissed. He had probably been pissed a long time–and he decided he had found an Achilles heel in the Master’s footsteps–perhaps a way to make Jesus look stupid.
So he complained that Mary had used such an expensive gift for such a trivial purpose. To accentuate his point, he suggested it should have been sold and the money given to the poor.
Judas was convinced he had ground an axe to a sharp point to swing at Jesus’ reputation.
I don’t know why he hated Jesus when he loved him so much. Or maybe he loved him so much that he learned to hate him. I am not privy to the mental state of Judas from Kerioth.
But I do know that Judas thought he was right, and he believed that others were going to back him up. Instead, Jesus rebuked him. I suppose you could say that Jesus did it nicely. (Perhaps you could explain what a “nice” rebuke is.)
Jesus said Judas was out of line–that he had lost the meaning of the moment, and had put a price tag on intimacy.
But here is where Jesus made his mistake: he allowed Judas to leave the room without resolving the conflict. He gave too much credit to the Son of Simon. He figured Judas had heard enough teaching about forgiveness that there was no need to pursue it any further.
Jesus was sadly mistaken.
There is no such thing as a misunderstanding. It is always “your misunderstanding and how right I am.”
Unfortunately, all misunderstandings end in betrayal. If they are not confronted, talked out and healed, the unresolved conflict will eventually open the door to one party or another striking out.
Then we have the scenario of feeling pressure to say “I’m sorry.”
It usually comes forth like, “I’m sorry if I offended anyone.”
Another possibility is, “I’m sorry, and please forgive me.”
It’s amazing how that particular statement, which seems to be filled with humility, can suddenly turn back into anger if the wounded individual does not proffer forgiveness.
The truth is, there is only one response that is correct when ignorance, wilfulness, short-sightedness and nastiness spring from our being and attack another.
“I was wrong.”
Not “I was wrong but…”
Nor “I was wrong in this case, but in another situation it would be different…”
“I was wrong” takes the risk that there will be no forgiveness.
This is what Jesus needed to hear from Judas–even if it required Peter, James and John physically holding Judas in place. Keep in mind–peace-making can be a messy business.
But misunderstanding, “I am sorry if…” and “I am sorry, please…” do not bring about reconciliation.
They are ways for us to maintain our solitary purity while seeming to appear transformed.
You might ask, how do I know this? Because the Good Book tells us that Judas left the party in a snit and went out and plotted with the enemies of Jesus–to betray him.
This was an expensive mistake:
If you leave misunderstanding unhealed, the wound may pour forth blood.
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