Am I the betrayer?

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Mark 14:17- 21

“They began to be sorrowful and say to him one after another, ‘is it I?’” v. 19

It’s one of those dinner conversations that destroy whatever appetite you thought you had. It’s hard to swallow with your heart crawling into your throat, its pained beating drowning out the usual sounds of munching and swallowing. “Why did he have to say that?”

Jesus’ words, “one of you will betray me.” exceed discomfort. Like swallowing an anvil, the words, sink deep into the bowels tearing a hole in my deepest fear. My head spins with panic, and I blurt out every defense I have. I quickly build up a fortress for my terror-stricken consciousness.

“I’m making a stand!”

“I’ll die before I deny.”

“I pledge allegiance to you.”

“I’m an overcomer for you Lord!”

Too many “I’s” create a crack in the wall, dark fear oozes through burning away my certainty.

The walls dissolve like a sand castle at evening tide. Slowly, methodically even, defenses give way to inner voices I thought to be extinct, but now come bubbling to the surface, terrorizing me. With sharp claws they pick and scrape and tear away at every past failure, every moral flaw, until I lay exposed and bleeding with shame. But no one sees. Or do they? I hate this.

I look through blurring eyes, unable to eat another bite. “Is it I?”

Am I the betrayer? Could I eat with him, and then turn on him? Am I that shallow? Is my love so flimsy?

Where will I be when the hour of darkness comes?   Holding a candle or a bag of silver?

I try to comfort my rickety heart. I want to prop it up with pious clichés and fervent declarations. But the props are made of faulty materials that crack under pressure.

Who am I kidding?  It has to be me. He knows me all too well.

He’s seen the games I play in the dark.

He’s heard the deals I make with my conscience to get by.

He has a front row seat to my deepest thoughts.

I’m sure it’s me. Who else could it be?

I look around at the others. Towers of strength. All of them.

The others are holier. Wiser. Purer.

They don’t battle with my demons. I deserve this. I’m such a fake.

“Lord is it I?”

We’re all asking, but I think everyone knows it’s me.

I know too well, how brittle I am inside.

The thought of what I am deep down is crushing me.

I wish I could be stronger.

Like Judas, over there. No wonder Jesus trusts him with the money.

He looks so sure. He’s so confident. He’s so together.

Can’t be him.

“Lord, is it I?”

I can barely sit up. I’m so weak.

I need to be near him.

Close to him. I have to lean on his strong shoulder.

I lean in, resting my heaviness on his strength.

I release my fears into his shoulder, tears soak his robe.

Then he hands me a cup and a piece of bread.

And bids me eat and drink with him.

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