Today we read the Passion according to Mark during our Good Friday liturgy. It has all the normal parts. But this year I was struck by how Jesus is betrayed by a kiss, a sign of intimacy and emotion.
Immediately, while he was still speaking, Judas, one of the twelve, arrived; and with him there was a crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders. Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, “The one I will kiss is the man; arrest him and lead him away under guard.” So when he came, he went up to him at once and said, “Rabbi!” and kissed him.Mark 14:43-45
My relationship with Jesus calls for intimacy – inwardness. If it is all outside of me – in ceremonies and rituals, dogmas or creeds – it is not yet a relationship but rather an ideal and Jesus is not a person but an object. The moment that it is Jesus and me, when He knows me and I know Him from the inside out, it is a relationship. I can only have intimacy with a person. The moment Jesus ceases to be an object but becomes a Person present right now, I have intimacy. From this inwardness must grow the outer – “follow me”. So love calls me into intimacy and love grows from intimacy.
I was struck by how the cross is about people. Jesus’ suffering and pain is His most human moment. The moment He is alone before God with His hurt and burdens, He is truly human. But for the world at that very moment He is an object. Only a person could betray Him with intimacy.
Most of all I was struck by how Jesus could only be betrayed by someone with whom He was intimate. The betrayal of the cross is that those who know Jesus but refuse Him. The betrayal was closing yourself off from the Person. Only a person who has a relationship with Jesus can really betray Him. I was struck today that when I close myself from Jesus, when I shut Him out of parts of my life, my intimacy betrays Him. And how an outward sign – a kiss – is the proclamation of inward betrayal.