Reading: Matthew 26:47-56
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.
Under any other circumstance this scene looks like the perfect picture: a peaceful garden being filled with a gathering of old friends. A greeting of love, affirmed by Jesus himself as he re-assuredly called Judas, ‘friend,’ and encouraged him to do what he had come to do (vs. 50). Yet to those of us who know what happened before and what was yet to come, the whole story smells of denial, betrayal, greed, shame and unbearable hurt. After all, enemies can judge and attack you, but only friends can betray you. Betrayal requires trust.
It makes me reflect on the other people in Scripture who were betrayed by those they trusted. Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers. Samson was bound and beaten, all because his wife cut his hair and betrayed him to his enemies. Each story is reminiscent of the Psalmist when he laments,
Even my bosom friend in whom I trusted,
who ate of my bread, has lifted the heel against me. (Ps. 41:9)
Pain hurts more when it is inflicted by a friend. The pain doesn’t stop at the surface, but it cuts deep to the heart. This is where we catch a glimpse of Jesus as he was arrested, graciously receiving a friendly greeting from a treacherous friend. Jesus had called Judas to be his disciple after all. He had traveled with him, mentored him, taught him and lived with him. We can almost feel the hurt. We can almost taste the pain. Indeed, we are deeply involved and included in that pain and treachery, for it is because of us that Jesus found himself walking toward the cross in the first place. It is because of the friendship he has always desired with us, and the treacherous way we ruined it with our sin, that Jesus looked at us, called us his friends, and willingly surrendered his freedom and his life. Jesus wasn’t arrested because of his enemies. He was arrested because of his friends – all of them.
Written by Cody Zuiderveen