Destiny & Responsibility
What began with his baptism in the Jordan and what he began to confess to his close disciples during his teaching ministry was coming to fruition. Like a path set before Him, he stepped upon it and, in today’s parlance, “made the path his own.” And so the menial steps of where to prepare the feast were engaged, no doubt just as they had the previous two years, with Jesus and His followers employing the courtesy of someone with a room where they could celebrate the Feast.
Then he marked the path another was choosing to take, a path to destruction. The disciples, knowing full well how what he said had a remarkable tendency of coming true and knowing how corruptable their own hearts were, asked, some might think, pleaded to not be a part of this prediction. Remarkably even the betrayer played the “It’s not me is it, Master?” game. We’re not told why he had struck the deal with the religious rulers to betray Jesus, but that’s not the point. Just as Jesus was on a path to the cross, so Judas was on a path and both had to choose whether they were going to continue on the path that was set before them. Matthew makes it sound like it was just greed, which is interesting when one considers that Matthew had been a tax-collector, the epitomy of betrayers making a comfortable living working for the hated Romans. He knew something about greed, one would think.
Jesus was pressing toward the cross and the animosity between himself and the religious rulers was such that Jesus avoided entering Judea until just before the Passover. How or why this scenario would lead one of his inner circle to make what looks like a business deal with the religious rulers is hard to imagine. But there in the upper room Judas had the opportunity to “come clean” and not fulfill his “destiny.” Instead he played dumb and, according to John’s gospel (John 13: 21-30), immediately left the group and met with the religious rulers to seal the deal and his fate. But was this entrapment? Was he trapped in his fate? Could he have chosen to not complete his plan to betray Jesus?
Well, the first thing that comes to mind is that if the religious rulers really wanted to find Jesus and arrest him, in Jesus’ own words, they could have done that at any time. Judas’ actions just pushed the timeline up. It would have changed the story a bit, but the religious rulers had already made up their minds to get rid of this troublesome messiah from Galilee. So, Jesus’ journey to the cross is not dependent on Judas’ betrayal. Thus, at least theoretically, Judas could have stayed and broken bread with Jesus instead of being the catalyst behind Jesus being arrested and put to death. My thought is that destiny still requires that we walk the path set before us, just as Jesus and Judas chose to “fulfill their destinies.” Every day we have the choice of staying in Jesus’ inner circle or going out and striking deals on our own. Ultimately destiny does not relieve us of our responsibility to do with what we know. Judas was more or less unmasked before his peers and instead of acknowledging it, he simultaneously acted dumb in front of them and then went ahead and did the deed.
Just as the disciples fearfully asked, “Lord, is it I?” I know that each day presents itself with an opportunity for me to either continue on the path with Him or to do something stupid that seems to be advantageous to me at the time. And having just reviewed the last few years while transfering my journals to this current blog, it’s pretty obvious to me that I’ve failed to continue on the path that He gave back to me four years ago when I first began to work my way through the Book of Matthew. Fortunately for me, I can choose a better path today than the one that I was on yesterday. Whatever my destiny may be I still need to walk the path and hope for a better choice than I made yesterday. Fate is something that is used to explain the journey once it’s over. I’m hopeful that I’m far from over. JBB 7/3/2007