A Friend to the End

When it was evening, he reclined at table with the twelve. And as they were eating, he said,.. ‘One of you will betray me.’ And they were very sorrowful and began to say to him one after another, ‘Is it I, Lord?’ He answered, ‘He who has dipped his hand in the dish with me will betray me.’ Judas, who would betray him, answered, ‘Is it I, Rabbi?’ He said to him, ‘You have said so.’ When [Jesus] had dipped the morsel, he gave it to Judas. After he had taken the morsel, Satan entered into him. Jesus said to him, ‘What you are going to do, do quickly.’ So, after receiving the morsel of bread, he immediately went out. And it was night. 

“And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives… to a place called Gethsemane. Then Jesus said to them, ‘You will all fall away because of me this night.’ Then he said to [the disciples], ‘Sleep and take your rest later on… Rise, let us be going; see, my betrayer is at hand.’ While he was still speaking, Judas came, one of the twelve, and with him a great crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests and the elders of the people. [He] had given them a sign, saying, ‘The one I will kiss is the man; seize him.’ And he came up to Jesus at once and said, ‘Greetings, Rabbi!’ And he kissed him. Jesus said to him, ‘Friend, do what you came to do.’ Then they came up and laid hands on Jesus and seized him.” Matthew 26:20-23,25,30-31,36a,45-50; John 13:26-27,30

How prone we are to turn from, even against, those who hurt us, deceive us, do not agree with us. We put up walls of protection, justifying our fortresses with rights and our resentment with self-absorbed reason. We cut off communication so we can sit comfortably and preach to the choir while criticizing those who sing a different song.

Jesus betrayed with a kiss, 18th century Dutch Delft

Yet Jesus was prone a different way. He nurtured, valued, maintained to the end His friendship with the one who would betray Him unto death. He knew Judas would turn from Him, yet He welcomed him at the table, warned him, offered food to him, looked in his eyes and said, ‘Go ahead and turn Me in,’ and allowed him to leave, in the darkness of his soul, into the night. He kept loving.

Buffeted by hurt when the other disciples then fell asleep, burdened by the agony of the impending cross, Jesus’s wound of betrayal by Judas through a poisoned sign of affection gave Him every reason to hate this man in whom He had invested so much. Yet, He loved on, even after the kiss, and called him friend.

Would I boldly be such a friend to those who mistreat me? Can I? Indeed, my Savior has so loved me, though I betray Him in my will, attitudes, words, and actions. (Matthew 5:44; 11:19)

“Jesus! What a friend for sinners!
Jesus! Lover of my soul;
Friends may fail me, foes assail me,
He, my Savior, makes me whole.”  ~John Wilbur Chapman (1910)

My Lord, thank You for loving me and calling me friend. Make me more, wholly, like You. (John 15:15)

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