03/29/13 Sermon (March 29, 2013, Good Friday)

posted Apr 1, 2013, 3:15 PM by David Hawkins   [ updated Apr 1, 2013, 3:15 PM ]

03/29/13 Sermon (March 29, 2013, Good Friday)

Sermon: Judas Iscariot, Pt. 1

(Judas speaks to the congregation)

I don’t what to do. I really don’t know why I’m out here, instead of back there with Jesus. Just a few minutes ago, I was laughing, sitting back, enjoying dinner with my friends. It was good. There wasn’t any of that talk, that weird talk of a new kingdom, all that eternal life stuff.

I didn’t sign up for that. I’m not a theologian -- I’m just the treasurer! I thought Jesus was going to help us against the Romans. Now I’m starting to wonder if he isn’t just a dreamer, some wild-haired nut case that’s got everybody riled up here in Jerusalem.

All his talk of saving the world, but not judging it, of having some sort of relationship with God that doesn’t involve sacrifice, that stuff just freaks the priests out. It challenges their authority. They want him dead, there’s no doubt about it.

On top of it, the whole city is ready to rise up against the Romans. But Jesus hasn’t done anything to get them on his side. No strategy meetings, no plans, no recruiting. It’s a mess. If this is a revolution, it’s the worst revolution ever. I’ll bet that if the crowds had to choose a leader, they wouldn’t know whether to choose Jesus or some random criminal.

But the Romans don’t care if Jesus has got his stuff together or not. They think he’s the one that’s stirring the pot, and they're going to take him down first chance they get. And they’re going to take us down with him. All of us.

But you know, for most of tonight, we forgot about all that stuff. For the first time in a long time, we just ate and talked about the good times, a long time ago, when we were just getting to know each other.

It was nice. We talked about the first people who really saw Jesus in action. Man, were they amazed. And I can understand that. Jesus is something special.

Changing the water into wine, now that was a wedding party. Feeding all those folks at that revival. There must have been thousands of people there and, we all ate from that little boy’s lunch basket. That was great.

But then he started to rub the bigwigs at the Temple the wrong way. He could care less about all their rules and regulations. And he got in the middle of some problem with a woman who had been caught in adultery. It seemed pretty cut and dried. She’d been caught, and now she’s going to get stoned to death. What’s the big deal? It’s the law. But Jesus steps into it, stops the whole thing. That really upset some folks.

But Jesus didn’t stop there. He kept being nice to people who were obviously cursed. There was the blind man, the lepers, and who can forget raising Lazarus from dead. That really got people’s attention. I think that’s what spooked the Priests. There was no denying Jesus’ power. It was real. And they didn’t have it.

But tonight, we weren’t talking about all that. We were just good friends eating supper. And Jesus did something that was really special. He washed our feet! It was totally unexpected. I mean, he’s the Rabbi; we’re the students. If anything, we should be washing his feet! But Jesus didn’t let us. He was saying something about how only he can make us clean, and then Peter, you know how he is, well he wanted a shower in that case. Jesus smiled and said, no, the feet will do just fine.

But then, the conversation started getting a little awkward. Jesus kept dropping these hints about how someone was going to betray him, someone was going to turn him over to the Priests.

Well of course, no-one knew what he was talking about. He was speaking in circles, in riddles. But it was like Jesus had somebody specific in mind. Well, of course none of us had any intention of doing anything like that. We were going to be with him to the very end. You should have heard Peter. He was pretty vocal about it.

But, I’ve got to tell you, I didn’t know what to think. I mean, Jesus was incredible, of course. But he was swimming into some deep water. I don’t think he knew how dangerous his words were. I don’t think he really knew how much trouble we all were in.

It would have been better if someone had taken him to the side, and shook him up a little bit, told him to knock it off with the martyr stuff, to just quit it with the Son of God routine. I remember that Peter tried once to get him to hear reason, but Jesus shrugged him off, called him all kinds of names. You can imagine that kind of put the kibosh on any of us really trying to talk sense into Jesus.

But you know, the reality is, if he isn’t stopped somehow, all of us are going to die. In fact, the Romans might come down on everyone here in Jerusalem. It’s not just me. It’s all of us. We’re all going down if we don’t find a way to help Jesus see the truth.

Anyway, that’s what’s going on in my head at supper while Jesus is droning on about the food, something about bread and body, and betrayal, I don’t know, I wasn’t really paying attention. And then he turns to me, and hands me some bread.

“Here, take it,” he says. “And then go do what you’re going to do.”

Nobody else knows or understands what Jesus said to me, they’re all kind of clueless. I’m not even sure what he just said. But It’s obvious I’m supposed to leave the table. I get up, and I leave... But now what?

Does Jesus really want me to go to the authorities? Is that what he’s saying? It’s so confusing, I can’t think straight. Am I supposed to go to the Priests and tell them what’s going on? I have no idea. I know that we’re in danger. I know that Jesus is going to get us all killed. I know that the Romans aren’t going to let Jesus start a revolution in Jerusalem.

Can it be that I’m the one that’s supposed to stop this? Am I the one who will save us all?

Is it I, Lord? Is it I?

Judas exits through Narthex Doors

Sermon: Judas Iscariot, Pt 2

Judas enters the sanctuary from Narthex, carrying a coleman lantern for illumination. He addresses the congregation:

Well, I’ve done it.  I hope it’s enough. I went to the High priest, and I told him who I was, and who I was with. And then everything started to happen really fast. They wanted to know where they could find Jesus, and I told him where I thought he would probably be. There was a place over on the East side, across the river, a nice place, a garden over in the olive trees.

They started to go find him when one of them asked, “Wait, how many are with him?” and I said maybe as many as eleven. The priests were worried about a fight. So they went and asked for some help from the Romans. Pretty soon I was leading an army through the valley of Kidron. It was a wonder we didn’t wake up all of Jerusalem.

We were just outside the garden when we stopped to figure out our next move. We see them in the dark, sleeping. This is going to be easy. But they don’t know which one is Jesus. They don’t want to grab the wrong guy and run the risk of Jesus escaping, so we have to have a plan. One of the soldiers recommends that we just kill all of them while they sleep. This is voted down, but you can tell that we’ve got some itchy fingers in the group.

At this point, I’m starting to have second thoughts. I hadn’t counted on bloodshed. I guess I hadn’t really thought it through. I was just hoping maybe the Priests could put some fear into Jesus, maybe make him see the light. They’re more serious than that, though. And the Roman soldiers, well, they’re ready for some action. It looks like there’s going to be more than just talking.

Should I call the whole thing off? Do we have a second chance here? I don’t want to see Jesus hurt. That’s the last thing on my mind. He hasn’t done anything to deserve to die. He’s simply loved people, helped them, cured, them, gave them hope. Is that so wrong?

But he’s made so many people so angry. They think he’s dangerous. He can never talk his way out of this. Lots of people have got lots of reasons for wanting him dead, it really has nothing to do with me or what I think.

I mean, I didn’t cause this, I’m just a cog in a big wheel. If it wouldn’t have been me bringing them here, it probably would have been somebody else. It could have been anybody. He told me to go, didn’t he? I’m just the fall guy. I hope people can remember that when it’s all over.

In fact, it makes me mad that Jesus put me in this position. He knew I was worried about all this. What was he thinking, trusting me? Is he stupid? Or does he not care that I might betray him, that I would turn my back on him?

I can’t go back, and I don’t want to go on. Who am I? Am I a disciple, a traitor, or a savior? And who is Jesus? Is he really the Son of God? Or is Jesus just some naive preacher caught up in things that he has no business meddling with?

All of a sudden, I realize that everyone’s staring at me. They’re not talking anymore, and the priests and soldiers are waiting for me to do something. We’re all waiting for someone to take the next step.

I look through the trees, and I see my friends, all lying on the ground, asleep like I thought they might be. All except Jesus. He’s just sitting, there, as though he’s waiting for something to happen.

And I make up my mind.

If I’m going to do this, now’s the time.The soldiers are getting nervous. If I don’t give them something, they’ll turn on me. It’s time to do what I came for. It’s time do what should have been done along time ago, before everything got so crazy.

I didn’t start this. But I’m going to end it.

(Judas goes behind the pulpit, out of sight into the hallway that leads to the exit, while one of the candlelighters extinguishes the final light (15) on the Tenebrae hearse, and carries the flame toward the prayer cross.)

Judas: Jesus, my Lord. I’m here. I’ve come back for you.

Jesus: Judas, must you betray me with a kiss?

(Judas puts his lamp out. The candlelighter lights the cross, which flames out quickly and brilliantly, all the lights are extinguished, and a loud noise is made, either by a pair of crash cymbals or by slamming the Bible on the communion table.

Depart in silence.)