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Mid-week of Holy Week. Historically, at least in some traditions, called “Spy Wednesday” to focus on Judas’ turn away from Jesus and towards betrayal (i.e. literally becoming a spy). Judas isn’t who he claims to be, even before he heads off to make his deal with the High Priest. In fact, John 12 makes clear that he has long been helping himself to the money bag.
But here’s the thing–it’s not just Judas. The whole week is full of disappointing people not living up to who they seem to be: Peter, seemingly so solid, a denier. The crowd, so jubilant days before, full of fickle rage. The disciples more generally–never super great–revealed to be even more of a hot mess than usual. It’s that old expression: under pressure, they all seem to become more and more like themselves.
Part of the problem is that people have ideas about Jesus that are at odds with who he really is, too. They see him one way, anticipate one thing, but he upends all expectations. The events of the week, then, expose not only our basic human failings (that Judas and Peter and the disciples and the crowd all exemplify in one way or another) but also the ways in which our own outlooks and desires lead us away from understanding who Jesus actually is and for what he came.
So I thought I’d leave us with a very short poem by the Victorian poet Christina Rossetti. It seemed appropriate for this week of looking again at spring landscapes (also often deceptive) and considering the miracle of how inner and outer realities are reconciled through the Resurrection. The hope of Easter is in finding the God who knows us, inside and out, from whom nothing need ever be hid from his redeeming love and gracious welcome.
“Judge not according to the appearance”
Lord, purge our eyes to see
Within the seed a tree,
Within the glowing egg a bird,
Within the shroud a butterfly
Till taught by such, we see
Beyond all creatures Thee,
And hearken for thy tender word,
And hear it, “Fear not: it is I.”