Posted in 2022 Lent Devotions

A kiss

“Mirror of the Passion” Lent devotion for March 14, 2022. Photo by Jonathan Borba on Unsplash

While he was still speaking, there came a crowd, and the man called Judas, one of the twelve, was leading them. He drew near to Jesus to kiss him, but Jesus said to him, “Judas, would you betray the Son of Man with a kiss?” (Luke 22:47-48)

We kiss our babies. Our spouses. Those we love one last time before they close the casket. A kiss is a universal expression of affection and love. We think long and hard before we finally lean in to kiss a special someone for the very first time. And when we do, it’s the best thing ever!

Judas’ kiss is different. It is well thought out. It will signal a waiting mob so they know who to arrest. It will reveal Jesus to those who want to kill him. It is the ultimate betrayal.

Can you see yourself in this moment? Who are you in this scene? Are you the one being betrayed? Or are you the betray-er? Or are you simply there to watch this scene play out?

Our is a world of mixed signals. A nod might mean “how ya doing’?” rather than “Yes.” A wink can mean “just kidding” instead of “how you doin’?” Body language that says, “No,” as the person nods and says, “Yes!” Does the kiss mean, “I love you,” or “Buh-bye”?

There are some wonderful kisses in the bible. When Esau and Jacob reconcile, when Joseph reveals himself to his brothers in Egypt, and when a woman kisses the feet of Jesus after wiping them with her hair. There are terrible kisses in the bible, too. When Isaac thinks he’s kissing and blessing his son Esau, when it’s really Jacob (Genesis 27:26). Or when Absalom slowly but surely steals allegiance from his father, David (2 Samuel 15:5). Or just before Joab stabs Amasa (2 Samuel 20:8-10).

Jesus knew what this kiss meant. He got the message and so did the mob.

Do you get the message? It’s easy to say, “I love Jesus.” It’s not so easy to live like we do. Jesus said, “If you love me, you’ll keep my commandments.” But we don’t. Talk about mixed signals.

The only clear message is his love for us, a love we can be sure of because he came, was kissed and betrayed, was crucified and died for us. No mixed messages here. He is love. He loves us. He loves me.

Thank you for the love note, Lord. Amen.

Posted in 2022 Lent Devotions

What was I thinking?

“Mirror of the Passion” Lent devotion for March 3, 2022. Photo by Francesco De Tommaso on Unsplash

“Then Satan entered Judas, called Iscariot, one of the twelve” (Luke 22:3).

Many have wondered, “Why did Judas do it? Why did he agree to betray Jesus for money?” Here’s a reason: Satan got into his head. And here’s a question: could that ever happen to me?

Peter wrote that our adversary, the devil, prowls around like a lion, just looking for someone to devour. That old dragon, the loser of the battle in heaven wages war against the church. Scripture makes it sound like a real possibility.

So let’s think about this for a moment. How might Satan enter our lives? How would Satan get into our heads?

It’s not hard to justify our actions by claiming, “No one will know.” Or, “No one will get hurt.” And even, “Plenty of other people have done it.” All the way to, “Is it really so wrong?” None of those questions come from the Spirit of God. They must come from someone else. Guess who?

Satan gets into our heads the say way he always has. Lies. He’s the father of lies. Every lie originates with him. Every thought that something bad might just be good is an echo of the first temptation in the garden. If the fruit will make you a better person, how bad could it be to eat some?

What was going through Judas’ mind? Make a quick buck? Force Jesus to be a real Messiah? Teach those chief priests and teachers of the law a lesson they’d never forget? Jesus handled demons and storms. This should be a piece of cake.

I look at Judas and I can see myself. A couple of extra bucks under the table is no big deal. Jesus has bigger fish to fry in this fallen world. No one will now. No one gets hurt. How bad can it be?

Jesus did not come to this world because it’s not so bad. It’s bad. Real bad. All those things we think are no big deal are what nailed him to the cross. After they flogged him. Spit on him. Mocked him. Stripped him. And then buried him.

When that scene gets in your mind, you realize you’ve been had. Fooled. Deceived. Scammed.

You know, after the fact, you might wonder, “What was I thinking?” Yeah, guess who got into your head?

Lord, I think I’m one of those suckers born every minute. I don’t know what I was thinking. Thanks for coming to rescue me. Amen.

Posted in Lent devotions

A moment alone

“Scenes from the passion” Lent devotion for Sunday, February 21, 2021. Photo by Noah Silliman on Unsplash

“Judas sought an opportunity to betray Jesus” (Mark 14:11).

Sometimes you have to be patient.

Like a hunter waiting in a blind for the deer to wander by. Or in the reeds, retriever at your side, waiting for the ducks. Or for that something you really want to go on sale. In recent days Jesus has been teaching in the temple, where there were too many people around. Judas had to find a moment when Jesus would be alone, or at least away from the crowds. Someplace where they could quietly arrest him.

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Posted in Lent devotions

Let’s make a deal

“Scenes from the passion” Lent devotion for Saturday, February 20, 2021. Artwork by Susan Zendt copyright 2021 used by permission.

“Then Judas Iscariot, who was one of the twelve, went to the chief priests to betray Him to them. When they heard it, they were glad and promised to give him silver. So he looked for how he might conveniently betray Him” (Mark 14:10-11).

For two thousand years, we’ve been wondering, “Judas, why did you do it?” Why did you cut a deal with the chief priests to betray Jesus?

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Posted in Devotions, Lent

2020 Lent devotion #30 – Blood money

Then when Judas, his betrayer, saw that Jesus was condemned, he changed his mind and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders, saying, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.” They said, “What is that to us? See to it yourself.” And throwing down the pieces of silver into the temple, he departed, and he went and hanged himself. But the chief priests, taking the pieces of silver, said, “It is not lawful to put them into the treasury, since it is blood money.” (Matthew 27:3-6)

Judas agreed to betray Jesus, to take a mob to where Jesus was, in exchange for thirty pieces of silver. In today’s money, about $600. After Jesus is arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane, Judas realizes he’s made a big mistake. His change of mind, though, is too late. The chief priests and elders are quick to point out, “No refunds or exchanges.” 

Judas throws the money into the temple and leaves to go hang himself. What are they going to do with that money? All of a sudden the chief priests get all ethical and don’t want the money back since it is “blood money.” In other words, it’s payment for Jesus’ death. To them, it was worth every penny anyway. In less than twenty-four hours, their “Jesus problem” would be resolved. He would be gone. 

You and I pay to make problems go away all the time. We pay the lawn guy to take care of the weeds, the dry cleaner to get the wrinkles out of a suit, the exterminator to rid the house of bugs and a hair stylist to cover up the gray hair. 

But there’s no one to pay to over up our sins, failures, shame and guilt. We try, though. We’ll buy a nice gift, flowers or a fruit basket to make amends with someone we’ve wronged. Sounds kind of shallow when you think of it that way. And it is. 

Only Christ can fully pay for or atone for our sins. Yes, it costs him his life. His blood. That’s the real “blood money.” 

Thank you, Jesus, for the blood money that makes my sin problem go away. Amen.