Day 30 (Tuesday) - Matthew 26:47-56

Artwork by Ben Ober

Artwork by Ben Ober

Jesus knew what was coming next:

Swords and clubs and a group from the Sanhedrin, the local ruling judicial body, led by Judas, a disciple who was supposed to be watching and praying with him. 

Judas, clearly, knows right where to find him. And he’s brought muscle.

But the Lamb of God didn't stand up to greet his butcher.  He stood up to greet his friend.  

As I shared on Sunday, a kiss like the one Judas gave Jesus that night would not have been a common greeting between a rabbi and his disciples; this kind of kiss would have been saved for special occasions.  It was a kiss of reconciliation, of deep affection, of deep devotion.  Judas’ choice to identify Jesus with a special occasion kiss only added insult to injury. 

Ah. Judas was the kind of friend who stabbed in the front.

And the original language says he would take his time with it.  Judas either greeted Jesus with a long kiss or he kissed him repeatedly.  Nothing in the language implies hesitation or doubt about what he was doing.  And the saddest part to me is that this is likely the last time Jesus would feel the touch of another human being that wasn't in torment, this kiss from his friend.

I’d imagine that most of us have known the sting of betrayal, the word that shouldn't have been spoken, the secret that shouldn't have been shared.  We know what it feels like not to be chosen, to lose loyalty, to know the one we trusted has rejected us, has let us down.  And anyone who’s been betrayed knows that sometimes it’s harder to forgive friends than enemies.

So Jesus turns to Judas, after years of trust, of walking together, of risking and serving and sharing life together, knowing what’s in his heart and in his intentions. 

Friend, do what you came to do.

Often we see this as one last olive branch or even twisted irony - just as Judas twists the knife - that Jesus would embrace him as a friend up until that final, fateful, fearful hour.

But that’s not quite what happens when Jesus calls Judas, “Friend.”

In most other instances in the Gospels, Jesus uses a specific word for his friends: philos.  Throughout the story, this is the word Jesus uses to describe those who are loyal, true, beloved friends.  But philos is not the word that Jesus chooses here for Judas.  Instead, he calls him, hetairos.

Both words - philos and hetairos translate into English as “friend,” but they are not synonyms.  Hetairos describes the kind of friend who is only in the relationship for personal gain; it is an impostor friend, a leech, an opportunist, a friend in quotes.  The only other rare instances when Jesus uses this word, hetairos, he uses it to describe those who are posing as friends instead - “friends” who stab in the front.

Jesus calls Judas what he really is, just like he always does.  Even as he’s being betrayed, he speaks the truth straight. 

Hetairos, he says, do what you came to do.

And Judas seals both their fates with a kiss.

Pastor Brynn Harrington

Consider:

When Jesus speaks the truth straight about you, what does he say? What terms does Jesus use to describe you? How have you seen Him reiterate this to you in your life?

Pray:

You have blessed us, O God, with the gift of friendship, the bonding of persons in a circle of love. We thank you for such a blessing: for friends who love us, who share our sorrows, who laugh with us in celebration, who bear our pain, who need us as we need them, who weep as we weep, who hold us when words fail, and who give us the freedom to be ourselves. Bless our friends with health, wholeness, life, and love. In the name of the one who befriends both the friendless and the betrayers. Amen.

Embody:

It is about a 12 to 15 minute walk from the Garden of Gethsemane to where Caiaphas would likely have been staying. Jesus was lead away bound as a common criminal. Tie some string around your wrist and go out for a walk today. Try to walk for at least 15 minutes in silence. No phone. No music. No conversation. Just walk.

Pastor Aaron Engler