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Journey to the Cross, Luke 22:47-71

Vulnerable Betrayal

Years ago (ok, decades) I saw a movie called "The Breakfast Club." In it, a group of diverse (cliques, not culture) high schoolers found themselves in a day-long detention together. Their conversations were poignant and sometimes painful. In one scene, the kids were starting to get to know each other, and were telling stories and goofing off together. One of the girls showed off a silly skill -- she placed a tube of lipstick in her cleavage and applied the lipstick without her hands. The boy with the hardest shell made fun of her despite the jovial mood of the room. It was a painful and awkward moment that I have considered for years -- why was it so incredibly mean? I concluded the reason it was more cruel than other things that had been said and done was that it was done in a moment when the girl had shown extreme vulnerability. To strike when a person is intentionally vulnerable is heinous.

As Jesus nears the cross, he has spent three full years showing ultimate vulnerability. He has taught from his heart. He has shown compassion for people that are difficult to love. He is literally giving his whole body, mind, and spirit to save people. It is in this most vulnerable experience two of Jesus' friends betray him. His vulnerability makes the isolation more painful, and we begin to see that, in his final moment of life, he will be utterly and completely alone.

Narrative Lectionary Text: Luke 22:47-71

While he was still speaking, suddenly a crowd came, and the one called Judas, one of the twelve, was leading them. He approached Jesus to kiss him; but Jesus said to him, “Judas, is it with a kiss that you are betraying the Son of Man?” When those who were around him saw what was coming, they asked, “Lord, should we strike with the sword?” Then one of them struck the slave of the high priest and cut off his right ear. But Jesus said, “No more of this!” And he touched his ear and healed him. Then Jesus said to the chief priests, the officers of the temple police, and the elders who had come for him, “Have you come out with swords and clubs as if I were a bandit? When I was with you day after day in the temple, you did not lay hands on me. But this is your hour, and the power of darkness!”

Then they seized him and led him away, bringing him into the high priest’s house. But Peter was following at a distance. When they had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and sat down together, Peter sat among them. Then a servant-girl, seeing him in the firelight, stared at him and said, “This man also was with him.” But he denied it, saying, “Woman, I do not know him.” A little later someone else, on seeing him, said, “You also are one of them.” But Peter said, “Man, I am not!” Then about an hour later still another kept insisting, “Surely this man also was with him; for he is a Galilean.” But Peter said, “Man, I do not know what you are talking about!” At that moment, while he was still speaking, the cock crowed. The Lord turned and looked at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said to him, “Before the cock crows today, you will deny me three times.” And he went out and wept bitterly.

Now the men who were holding Jesus began to mock him and beat him; they also blindfolded him and kept asking him, “Prophesy! Who is it that struck you?” They kept heaping many other insults on him. When day came, the assembly of the elders of the people, both chief priests and scribes, gathered together, and they brought him to their council. They said, “If you are the Messiah, tell us.” He replied, “If I tell you, you will not believe; and if I question you, you will not answer. But from now on the Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of the power of God.” All of them asked, “Are you, then, the Son of God?” He said to them, “You say that I am.” Then they said, “What further testimony do we need? We have heard it ourselves from his own lips!”