Holy Week: Wednesday

March 28, 2018

Wednesday of Holy Week. Two days before the crucifixion; one day before the Last Supper and the betrayal. Imagine waking up this morning knowing it was your last full day of freedom before your execution. That's the reality Jesus faced that Wednesday morning: one more day with his disciples, one more night's rest -- then a day to wash feet, share a table, pray, and be betrayed.

 

We call today Spy Wednesday (or just Holy Wednesday in some traditions). It gets its name from Judas Iscariot, the ultimate "spy." The Traitor, in Luke's gospel, gets his thirty pieces of silver from the chief priests today (see ch. 24). With that said, the Traitor has become a bit of a polarizing figure in recent years; many now feel he's been treated unfairly for two thousand years. Scholars now suggest he was simply doing what needed to be done; after all, didn't Christ have to die somehow? Others say he wanted to prove to the world who Jesus was, so he forced his hand, so to speak -- but he expected Jesus to save himself, and Judas never meant for him to actually die. Still others, following the gnostic Gospel of Judas, believe Judas was the favorite apostle who loved Christ so much he wanted to set him free from the earthly prison of his fleshy body.

 

For my part, I don't buy any of it. Much like the wider Church tradition, I prefer to call Judas Iscariot simply "the Traitor." Multiple gospels attest to him being possessed or at least demonized, either just before the betrayal itself or on Spy Wednesday. Yet the full blame remains on the man: "'I have sinned,' he said, 'for I have betrayed innocent blood'" (Matthew 27:4a). His suicide, caused by his guilt, is further testimony to this. The Traitor receives no sympathy from me.

 

The betrayal itself won't happen until tomorrow, but the plot begins today, on Spy Wednesday. How do we plot against the Lord in our own hearts?

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