“Mirror of the passion” Lent devotion for April 13, 2022. Photo by Structuro on Pixabay.com.
Then one of the twelve, whose name was Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, “What will you give me if I deliver him over to you?” And they paid him thirty pieces of silver. And from that moment he sought an opportunity to betray him. (Matthew 26:14-16)
I was today years old when I discovered that “Spy Wednesday” was a thing. In some traditions, it’s a day of fasting and worship. I don’t ever remember paying much attention to this day.
We’re not quite at Thursday’s Passover meal. Jesus has already wreaked havoc with the temple vendors and teachers. In between, the chief priests and elders are stealthily plotting to arrest and kill Jesus (Matt. 26:3). To help them, they have someone on the inside, one of the twelve, Judas. With some change jingling in his pocked, he’s looking for just the right moment to hand Jesus over to them.
So there’s a lot of sneaking around going on. Jesus may have been teaching every day in the temple, but he left Jerusalem and spent his nights on the mount of Olives. Since it’s Passover, the city is filled with more people than usual. It’s going to be tough to find and arrest Jesus apart from the crowds.
Jesus knows exactly what’s going on. They can be as sneaky as they want, but he’s already told the disciples that he would be betrayed. He knows Judas is a double agent. He knows he won’t have long to pray once they get to Gethsemane on Thursday.
I remember having all kinds of pretending to be a spy. I made a periscope from an old quart milk container to see around corners. A friend and I would wire up bell wire, batteries, and light bulbs to send Morse code messages to each other. From high in a backyard tree, we could see what was going on in the neighborhood using my dad’s binoculars. We encrypted secret messages to each other with simple substitution cyphers. We listened in on conversations through the AC vents in the house.
Now I like to eavesdrop on people in coffee shops. I’ve listened in on sales pitches, job interviews, bible studies, and employee reviews while innocently enjoying a latte. I am amazed what I can learn about a complete stranger from a few seats away. It’s not hard to see someone enter their PIN on a keypad, either. (I try not to do that too often.)
When do you find yourself sneaking around? How about when you eat food you don’t want someone see you eating? Hiding the candy wrapper under other trash so no one knows? If someone asks, “What are you eating?” you mumble “muhphen” with stuffed cheeks. You never weigh yourself when someone else is looking, do you? Ever buy something with cash so it doesn’t show up on the bank statement? Have you ever seen someone at the store, but ducked down an aisle before they saw you so you wouldn’t have to talk to them?
Why are we sometimes so secretive? Because we’re afraid. We’re afraid someone will find out.
Guess what? He sees. He knows. He loves. He forgives.
That’s it, Jesus. I’m not sneaking around any more.