It wasn’t until I engaged in the frivolity that is Lent Madness, that I had ever heard the Wednesday in Holy Week be referred to as “Spy Wednesday,” but I get it. Judas, the betrayer of our Lord, was a sneaky bugger, spy like, so we call today Spy Wednesday.
(Aside – If you want to honor Jesus this Spy Wednesday, vote for the one who he called to be the witness to his resurrection, Mary Magdalene in the Golden Halo matchup at Lent Madness)
The Mark lesson that went out in today’s “Walking the Way of the Cross” email, confirms the sneakiness of Judas, “Then Judas Iscariot, one of the Twelve, went to the chief priests to betray Jesus to them. They were delighted to hear this and promised to give him money. So he watched for an opportunity to hand him over.” Secret deals, covert ops, pay-offs. It is the stuff of a crappy Tom Cruise movie.
The problem, of course, is that the Gospels are not uni-vocal on the role of Judas in the whole “handed over to suffering and death thing.” In John’s version, which we heard read at the Noonday Eucharist today, it almost sounds like Jesus orchestrated his arrest, with Judas acting as a pawn for the greater good.
Jesus said, “Very truly, I tell you, one of you will betray me.” The disciples looked at one another, uncertain of whom he was speaking. One of his disciples– the one whom Jesus loved– was reclining next to him; Simon Peter therefore motioned to him to ask Jesus of whom he was speaking. So while reclining next to Jesus, he asked him, “Lord, who is it?” Jesus answered, “It is the one to whom I give this piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish.” So when he had dipped the piece of bread, he gave it to Judas son of Simon Iscariot. After he received the piece of bread, Satan entered into him. Jesus said to him, “Do quickly what you are going to do.”
Is it divine foreknowledge? Is it suicide by oppressor? Is it the work of a spy? Satan? God? The events that lead up to the arrest of Jesus are filled with intrigue and mystery and on this Spy Wednesday, I’m pondering it all. More especially, I’m pondering the role I played in it. One of the most profound Good Friday experiences I’ve ever had was at Bellefield Presbyterian Church during my freshman year of college. Every member of the congregation was invited to hammer a nail into a huge wooden cross. My pounding of a nail was moving, but in the acoustics of that nave, hearing the sound of nail after nail after nail being hammered into the hard wood of the cross was downright powerful. No matter which theory of atonement you subscribe to (and thanks to Tony Jones for illuminating many this Lent), one thing is clear: Jesus Christ stretched out his arms of love so that everyone might come within the reach of his saving embrace. Every sinner. Every child of God. Every spy. Every one. Thanks be to God.