So Judas consented and began to look for an opportunity to betray Jesus to them when no crowd was present. – Luke 22:3-6 (NRSV)
We’re supposed to think of Judas’ betrayal as a discrete event, one aberrant thing. First Judas was righteous, fully on the side of Jesus. Then he defected. A time before and a time after. What a uniquely evil guy.
Nonsense. Jesus-betrayal isn’t the aberrant state for Christians; it’s our resting state.
Selling out Jesus is the norm. In exchange for the benefits of membership in the community, we pay taxes to governments that use them for infernal purposes. We get paid by institutions whose policies and procedures would make Jesus weep. We attend churches that prize order and decorum above the gospel. We sneak into stores and restaurants that we know full well use their power for evil.
Some of us do slightly better or worse in these ways; few of us make active decisions to try to destroy God; most of us are working hard on improving. Still we’re all trapped in these webs of betrayal. Well, except maybe the saintliest of the saints (but they all alienated everyone they knew or met, lived in locked rooms, did not have children, and/or were tortured to death, so…)
Being alive in a sin-sick world means being infected ourselves. It is the norm, largely unavoidable for mortals. Thank God, then, that Jesus still invited Judas to supper, still dipped his hand in the bowl with him. That he built forgiveness into the system. Thank God that while Jesus-betrayal may be our resting state, grace is his.
For the mundanity of my sin, forgive me. For the regularity of your forgiveness, thank you. Amen.
Quinn G. Caldwell is Chaplain of the Protestant Cooperative Ministry at Cornell University. His most recent book is a series of daily reflections for Advent and Christmas called All I Really Want: Readings for a Modern Christmas. Learn more about it and find him on Facebook at Quinn G. Caldwell.