Wednesday, March 23, 2016

"Betrayal" - a sermon for Wednesday in Holy Week

Preached by the Very Rev. Mike Kinman at Christ Church Cathedral on Wednesday in Holy Week, March 23, 2016.

Very truly I tell you. One of you will betray me.

I wonder if this wasn’t the most painful part of the passion for Jesus.

More than the nails.

More than the spear.

More than the fear.


Betrayal is a pain like no other.

Betrayal is deep and searing.

Betrayal is crushing and disorienting.

Betrayal turns us inside out and upside down. It takes that which we trusted most and turns it against us. Takes the warmest embrace of safety and turns it into the coldest steel blade piercing our heart.

Judas was one of Jesus’ closest friends, one of Jesus’ most intimate confidants. 

Jesus had said “follow me” and Judas had followed. When things got rough and others had left, Judas had stayed.

In all the world, there were only a handful  of people that Jesus truly trusted, and Judas was one of them.

And Judas betrayed him.

Not some nameless informant.

Not his traditional nemeses the chief priest and the Pharisees.

But Judas.

His friend.

The betrayal is perhaps not only the most painful but the most overlooked part of the passion.  We are drawn to and repulsed by the horror of the nails and the spear, but we are also removed from that. Most of us will never know that horror. For most of us, the cross is symbol and metaphor.

But betrayal?

Betrayal is one of our greatest fears. Betrayal is one of our deepest pains.

Betrayal is what keeps us up at night.

Images of our lover in another’s embrace.

Sounds of a treasured friend whispering against us across a restaurant table.

The moment of revelation that that supportive hand on your back was actually holding a knife.

Betrayal leaves scars that run more deeply and heal more slowly than any other wound.

Betrayal robs us of trust.

Betrayal makes us question our lovability, our worthiness, our very sanity.

Jesus was betrayed. Betrayed by one of his own.

And because of that, for us this Holy Week, there are at least two truths of which we can be sure.

The first is that Jesus knows that pain. That means if you have been betrayed. If you have known that pain. If you are haunted by those images and voices, you can know that you are not alone. That you share that pain with the one who bears all our pain, Jesus the Christ.

That doesn’t make the pain go away. It doesn’t even make it hurt less. But it does mean even in the searing pain of betrayal, you will never be alone.

The second is that Jesus didn’t stop loving.

Betrayal makes us ultimately vulnerable … and so betrayal tempts us to close up. To not let anyone else in. To not give anyone else the opportunity ever to hurt us again.

Betrayal tempts us to close ourselves off. To not trust anyone else with our love lest that love get turned against us in betrayal once more.

Jesus was betrayed with a kiss. And he responded with a kiss. He felt the pain, bore it all, and continued to love, loved all the way to death, even death on a cross.

Today as we prepare for the end.

Today as we prepare for the final meal, the washing of the feet, the loneliness of the garden and the agony of the cross.

Today as we stand on the precipice of the great three days, let us hear this story and remember.

Remember that Jesus was betrayed.

That Jesus was betrayed and stands with us bearing the pain of all our betrayals.

That Jesus was betrayed and pleads with us to stand with him in all our vulnerability.

That Jesus was betrayed and it was not the end. It was only the beginning. Amen.

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