Here is the Maundy Thursday prayer and reflection from my church. Leaders from the church are doing videos for each day of Holy Week, going through our prayerbook liturgy for the day and offering some personal reflections. You can also find the audio version on our podcast.
Here is the Holy Wednesday prayer and reflection from my church. Leaders from the church are doing videos for each day of Holy Week, going through our prayerbook liturgy for the day and offering some personal reflections. You can also find the audio version on our podcast.
Reflection: A Fragrant Offering
As Mark’s plot picks up speed toward Jesus’ death, the story pauses to show us a quiet interaction between Jesus, a woman, and Judas. In it, the woman anoints Jesus’ feet with expensive perfume as a symbolic preparation of Jesus’ body for death. While Judas seeks to betray Jesus, she has a different sense of who Jesus is and his purpose on earth. Jesus is the only one to notice that “she has done a beautiful thing” by preparing Jesus’ body with perfume prior to his burial, and so this beautiful thing stops the story in its tracks. As the Lenten season unfolds, we don’t want to miss what God is doing in the midst of our hearts and lives. May her posture reshape how we purposefully engage the journey to the cross.
When Judas, his betrayer, saw that Jesus was condemned, he repented and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders. He said, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.” But they said, “What is that to us? See to it yourself.” Throwing down the pieces of silver in the temple, he departed; and he went and hanged himself.
I can’t figure out what Matthew’s characterization of Judas is. He did all the things that a true disciple would in light of his sin. He repents, confesses, and tries to make right. Maybe this is meant to contrast Judas and Peter, perhaps? Both reject Jesus, both face conviction for their actions. Judas, though, runs away from God in shame, but Peter runs to Jesus. Conspicuously, though, there’s no “restoration” passage for Peter here like there is in John.
And yet, this word “repent” is still used here! I should check this another time, unless anyone out there knows: is that term “repent” ever used in a negative sense in the book of Matthew? What is repentance to Matthew?
When it was evening, he took his place with the twelve; and while they were eating, he said, “Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me.” And they became greatly distressed and began to say to him one after another, “Surely not I, Lord?” He answered, “The one who has dipped his hand into the bowl with me will betray me. The Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that one by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that one not to have been born.” Judas, who betrayed him, said, “Surely not I, Rabbi?” He replied, “You have said so.”
Notice here how they all call Jesus “Lord”, whereas Judas calls Jesus “Rabbi”, or Teacher. To the original Jewish audience here, this would have been noticed and significant. But don’t mistake this. This isn’t some Evangelical emphasis of seeing Jesus as “Lord of your life” and not “just” a teacher.
Rather, the difference is in seeing things in the new order versus the old one. It’s probably significant that Matthew us the Jewish term “Rabbi” and not just the normal Greek word for “teacher”. To follow a rabbi was still intense and genuine discipleship, not some “lesser devotion”. The point is that Judas still didn’t “get it”. Therefore, Jesus points out how this ultimately condemns him.