A KISS IN THE GARDEN
Easter weekend provides most of us a welcome break and there are also a lot of festive activities going on during this weekend. But the forthcoming Easter weekend is one of the most important dates on the Christian calendar as we bring to remembrance the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. In many church circles there have been certain key celebrations such as Ash Wednesday, Palm Sunday etc, that lead up to the ultimate Easter celebration. On the eve of the crucifixion, something of profound significance took place in a garden called Gethsemane. Given the radical impact, growth and influence of Jesus’ ministry, the religious establishment of the day was determined to bring it to a halt. One of Jesus’ disciples called Judas, conspired with them to deliver Him into their hands in exchange for thirty pieces of silver. As part of the plan, he indicated that the one he will be kissing when in the garden, will be the correct person to be taken captive. “Going at once to Jesus, Judas said, greetings Rabbi and kissed Him. Jesus replied, friend do what you came here for. The men then stepped forward, seized Jesus and arrested Him.” Mathew 26:50-51
THE KISS OF A FRIEND
A kiss is the most universally accepted act of showing love, adoration, kindness and friendship. The spirit in which it is conveyed instills a level of trust and appropriate emotion. When people refer to a Judas kiss, it denotes an act of betrayal especially one disguised as a gesture of friendship. It is deceitful and treacherous. It is one of the lowest forms of betrayal where the act is carried out under false pretenses with very nefarious intent.
What is quite paradoxical in the whole scenario before Jesus was taken captive, when greeted by Judas, he addressed him as “ …friend do what you came here for….” Why would you call someone a friend knowing fully well that he is out on a mission to betray you? When He addressed Judas as friend, there was not a grain of sarcasm in what Jesus said. He looked beyond Judas in the full realization that Judas is not the enemy but that there are bigger evil forces at play that captivated his heart and mind. Jesus was still extending His unconditional love towards him and declared His willingness to remain His friend regardless of what he has done. Yes, so persistent is God’s love that even when me and you have been involved in the worst type of sinful acts, He still offers love, forgiveness and acceptance. This is the central message of Easter.
WE ALL HAVE A GARDEN
We will all at some stage of our lives, have a garden where our commitment to our mission will be put to the test. It is in your garden experience where betrayal, deceit and the most treacherous things imaginable, sometimes from people closest to you, will manifest itself. These things will make you wonder – how can those that I sacrificed so much for, turn against me in such an inhumane manner? It is in the garden experience where total surrender is of the utmost importance, as Jesus prayed “ … not my will, but let Your will be done.”. In my own life, living a surrendered life was an extremely liberating experience because instead of always hitting cul de sacs, I started to see new possibilities. Letting go of something should not be seen as a weakness but rather viewed as an innate strength where you do not allow yourself to be consumed by any set of circumstances. Our natural inclination is to justify our every move and decision in an effort to be seen as right. Regrettably, this can take a great deal of time and energy. Living a surrendered life at times warrants from you and me to give up the need to be “right”. Surrender is an immeasurable and transcending power that can ever happen in one’s life. It is not a passive denialism of the current reality but having an open and responsive attitude to new possibilities. Receiving insight into God’s abundant grace is the key to living a surrendered life. To surrender is to discover your true identity in Christ.
As human beings, we all have the potential of building relationships and capable of breaking them. In leadership, betrayal unfortunately comes with the territory. I have my own catalogue of being betrayed but allow me to share some principles when hit by an episode of betrayal:
1. Cool-off. Give yourself some time to get to grips with your pain and emotions and process it accordingly. Dealing with reality is the quickest way to move forward in a measured way.
2. Realise that you are not defined by this specific incident. Notwithstanding the hurt and pain, this is not time for the blame game- if only I haven’t trusted so much, why does this happen to me, am I incapable, I have given it my best shot yet…
3. Do not allow betrayal to control you but see it as an opportunity for growth and development. What happened, has happened but it is our attitude towards it, that will determine an appropriate response. We should not live our lives to get even, but to move ahead.
4. Forgive, forgive, forgive. Never allow any root of bitterness to creep into your life. My pastor likes to say – it is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.
I personally, will forever be thankful for the fact that notwithstanding my weaknesses and shortcomings, Jesus is still willing to call me friend. During this time of Easter, let it be a time of contemplation to live in the fullness of His grace that He made possible through Calvary. He overcame the betrayal, scorn and shame so that we can also be overcomers in this regard. He set the supreme example what unconditional love is all about.
Have a blessed Easter weekend!