Defenseless and Naked


The Taking of Christ (Judas’ Kiss), Caravaggio, 1602

Today’s readings (click below to open in new tab/window):
Psalms 122; 149, 1 Kings 7:51-8:21, Acts 28:17-31, Mark 14:43-52

The Garden of Gethsemane was a place Jesus often met with his disciples. It’s no surprise that Judas, leading a band of Jewish leaders and armed Roman soldiers,  knew to find him there. The kiss Judas placed on Christ’s cheek is the most obvious moment of betrayal in this famous scene, but betrayal was everywhere.

Beforehand the disciples had fallen asleep when Jesus needed company, and afterward Peter would deny knowing him – events that bookended a series of betrayals small and large. In a betrayal of Christ’s mission, as well as his lessons, one of the disciples struck the slave of the high priest with a sword and cut off his ear. All the disciples fled, and one young man in particular left behind the linen cloth that was all he’d been wearing.

None of us wants to think we would abandon or betray Jesus, but these were his closest friends and even they couldn’t follow him all the way to the cross.

We want to defend Christ, but following him means abandoning our weapons. Sometimes those are actual weapons, but sometimes they are weapons of anger, pride, and force we think we are using to attack his opponents without understanding attacking is not serving.

We don’t want to admit we’ve strayed – or even fled – from Christ, but that moment of spiritual nakedness, when our weakness or sin is uncovered and on display, eventually catches up to us. Often it’s revealed by our enemies who use it to expose our hypocrisy, and other times we sabotage ourselves; either way the shame is real.

Defenseless and naked. We can end up there through poor choices and weak excuses.

Or we can volunteer.

When we volunteer, when we follow Christ to the foot of the cross and humbly lay our betrayals there, when we lay down the weapons, armor, intellect, strength, or self-righteousness which we have called discipleship without understanding what that truly means … our new life begins.

We enter life defenseless and naked. It’s a kind of spiritual symmetry that’s how we and the apostles would be reborn in Christ.

Comfort: Christ is our strength and hope. 

Challenge: Be sure what you do in the name of Christ is what Christ would have you do.

Prayer: Merciful Lord, I seek to be born anew each day. Amen. 

Discussion: The apostles had chances to commit and re-commit to Christ. Have you ever felt the need to re-commit to your faith?

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