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Thursday, April 17, 2014

Good Friday Reflections: The Crucifixion of Expectation

Luke 22:47 While he was still speaking a crowd came up, and the man who was called Judas, one of the Twelve, was leading them. He approached Jesus to kiss him, 48 but Jesus asked him, "Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?" 49 When Jesus' followers saw what was going to happen, they said, "Lord, should we strike with our swords?" 50 And one of them struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his right ear. 51 But Jesus answered, "No more of this!" And he touched the man's ear and healed him. 52 Then Jesus said to the chief priests, the officers of the temple guard, and the elders, who had come for him, "Am I leading a rebellion, that you have come with swords and clubs? 53 Every day I was with you in the temple courts, and you did not lay a hand on me. But this is your hour-- when darkness reigns."

The Jews have numbers in Jerusalem during the Passover, an event that commemorates their liberation from oppression in Egypt. Now the Jews are being oppressed by another bully- Rome. All they need is a spark to light the fire of revolution. Judas thinks that getting Jesus the messiah arrested will be that spark. And it almost is! The disciples ask Jesus, “Lord, should we strike with our swords?” Then, before Jesus could even answer, one of the disciples struck with the sword. Judas’ plan worked, he thought, until Jesus demands “no more of this.” Judas’ attempt to help God doesn’t lead to revolution but crucifixion.

The ultimate abandonment of Jesus by Judas came after the arrest, not before it. Once Judas saw that his expectations of Jesus were not met, that’s when he gave up on Jesus. Judas banked his life on the hope that Jesus was the messiah. And when Jesus failed to fit into Judas’ messianic box, Judas quit God by pulling the plug on life. Judas could not have imagined God bringing liberation to the Jews in any other way than beating the toga out of the Romans. God simply did not meet Judas’ theological expectations. Sadly, Judas could not see past the Good Friday death of his expectations. He could not wait long enough to see God exceed his expectations on Easter Sunday. When Judas felt abandoned by Jesus, he abandoned Jesus.  

You can relate to Jesus. You know what it’s like to be abandoned by people whose expectations of you exceeded their love for or loyalty to you? You did not fit into the box of your girlfriend’s expectations and you were dumped. You did not fit into the box of your employer’s expectations and you were fired. You did not fit into the box of your husband’s expectations and you were divorced. You did not fit into the box of your friend’s expectations and you were dissed. You did not fit into the box of your parents’ expectations and you were disowned. We know all too well what it’s like to be abandoned by people close enough to kiss us.

We can also relate to Judas. When we feel abandoned by God we are tempted to abandon God. Judas had a wonderful plan for Jesus’ life that Jesus didn’t fulfill. When we experience the good Friday death of our expectations of Jesus we will be tempted to abandon him, deny him, and betray him with a kiss and yell “crucify him.” When Jesus does not meet our expectations – relational, vocational, financial, physical, spiritual, or emotional we will either abandon our expectations or we will abandon Him. We abandon him by refusing to pray, refusing to hope, refusing to believe, refusing to trust, refusing to submit, refusing to wait, and refusing to love.

Good Friday is all about death. If we, like Judas, hold on more tightly to our expectations than we hold onto Jesus, we might hang Jesus out to dry on a tree and, in the process, hang ourselves on another.