Scripture Reading: Matthew 26:1-35 (NRSV)
What is our response to Jesus?
Matthew shares a whole variety of people interacting with Jesus at the end of his life.
It is time for the Passover in Jerusalem. This was a time when pilgrims flooded the holy city so that they could break bread together and worship at the Temple. The chief priests and the elders of the people want to remove Jesus from the scene but they feared the crowds’ response. A riot would cost many Jews their lives and they don’t seem to want this kind of chaos. They just want things to go on as they had.
Don’t we all.
Something about sharing a meal
defines us as a family. We see this in
the sacrament of Holy Communion.
Matthew identifies the anointing by Mary as happening at Simon the leper’s home. This is a fascinating context and we can assume that he had been made well by Jesus. His willingness to be in Simon’s home indicates the importance Jesus would have stressed at mainstreaming this man back into the community. There would be no question that he would host the Rabbi Jesus as this would be a great honor. Note also that a woman prepares him for his burial. Women will also seek to tend to his body following the Sabbath just days away.
Judas must have heard that a bounty was being offered for Jesus. With all the throng of people, it would have been difficult to identify a single man and so you would need someone who knew where he would be and how long he would be there. As we imagine Jesus transforming so many lives and Judas being a witness to it all, we have pause that he would seek to gain from his destruction.
But just as the religious leaders sought to silence Jesus, maybe Judas did not agree with all of what Jesus taught. Grace is hard to wrap our heads around and maybe it was all too much too soon for Judas to handle.
How will Jesus respond to this? Notice that the betrayal of Judas and the prediction of the denial of Peter and desertion of the disciples bookend the Last Supper. It is done for the forgiveness of sins.
As current disciples, we might with Peter speak out that we will never deny Jesus. But in Matthew’s day, there may have been persecutions of Christians that did deny Jesus to save their own lives. This important story points to a Savior that not only understands our plight but knows that the very Church is founded upon people that gave in to their fears.
This speaks to the power of Jesus to define us through our holy meal together rather than by the sins we may commit. Note that he redefines Simon the leper at the beginning by meeting in his home. He continues to see us as he will see us – not at our worst but at our greatest potential.
Where are those places in your life that your Christian faith or walk has struggled?
If we find that grace comes to us, why do we continue to look at our neighbor with a wary eye?
Prayer for the day:
God, we know that you make all things new.
We see that this includes a multitude of people.
It may even include us.
Move us beyond our order so that we do not cling to it like the chief priests and elders.
Move us beyond our fears so that we do not feel the need to posture.
Help us to reach our potential as you see it.
Photo by Paul Schultz via Flickr.com. Used under the Creative Commons license.