Week 2: Saturday Matthew 26:69-75

Am I the only one who hears a strong streak of condemnation in some of Wright’s commentaries?
A kind of conditional proclamation of the Good News?
Not to mention speculation and supposition regarding motives and responses presented in authoritative tone, such as makes them seem the way to read the text?
Maybe it’s just me…

Anyway, for what it’s worth, here’s my alternative take on what might have been going on.

Peter was struggling to make sense of the incomprehensible.
He, like all the others, including Judas, still didn’t get it – that the Kingdom was indeed coming, but not in the way that generations of Jews had believed it would.
Finally, faced with the reality he saw – Jesus arrested, taken before the High Priest, accused of blasphemy… there was only one way this could end.

So he fell apart.
Denied the man he loved, the man he’d thought was the Messiah.
Wept for the betrayal of hope he felt as well as for the words of betrayal he’d spoken.
Wept the deep, deep sobs of grief for the deepest of losses – the loss of faith, of hope.

Judas was likewise struggling to make sense of the incomprehensible.
He also didn’t get it – that the Kingdom was indeed coming, but not in the way that generations of Jews had believed it would.
Maybe, in his case, he thought betraying Jesus would finally push Jesus into making the display of power that would prove to all that he is the Messiah.
That plan backfired when Jesus submitted, Ghandi-style, to the soldiers.
In his utter despair at the apparent failure of his grand plan, Judas also wept – but not tears. He wept blood – his own blood as he went out and hanged himself.

Because I’m sorry, I don’t buy it – Wright’s theses that tears indicate genuine repentance and suicide indicates only remorse.
All I can say is that Wright must never have felt the urge to kill himself.

Finally, it simply isn’t as simple as the black-and-white examples Wright gives of choices to deny, or otherwise, Jesus with the words we speak, which is the focus, it seems, of his closing points.

Life is full of shades of gray.
Of choices between the bad and less bad.
What if the soldiers are threatening to rape and kill my daughter before my very eyes if I don’t tell them the hiding place of my son?
such situations arise – although, please God, such extreme choices will never be ours to make.

This passage, and our own failures and betrayals of God-in-others and also, at times, of God-in-ourselves, let alone God-to-others, are unendurable taken in isolation.

Lord, have mercy. Open our eyes and hearts to know you as Emmanuel – God with us.


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