HANDING JESUS OVER
April 18, 2014
In his third prediction of his passion, Jesus said to his disciples, “the Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death, and hand him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and scourged and crucified” (Mt 20:18b-19a).
Judas had started the process of handing over. “What are you willing to give me if I hand him over to you?” (Mt 26:15a). Jesus was arrested, and the chief priests and the elders of the people “handed him over to Pilate” (Mt 27:2b), who, after having Jesus scourged, “handed him over to be crucified.” (Mt 27:26b).
Judas was an apostle, a disciple who was with Jesus throughout his public ministry. The chief priests and elders were the top spiritual leaders of Israel. But they betrayed Jesus and handed him over. How about us? Betrayal is all about a turning away from the good, a giving up of what is right and just and true, an about face from the straight path of the Lord, an abandonment of one’s appointed calling. In fact, those who have been called and favored by God are those who are in a position to betray Jesus.
Do we today continue to hand Jesus over to be mocked, scourged and crucified? By sin in our lives. By unforgiveness. By gossip and maligning others. By failure to boldly witness to our faith, thereby effectively denying Jesus. By our inaction or tepid action on our mission. By being self-referential rather than denying self. By indulging in worldly pleasures rather than giving up all for Jesus.
But there is a good handing over. Jesus went to the cross, and suffered and died for us, winning for us our salvation. “And bowing his head, he handed over the spirit.” (Jn 19:30b). It is when we have been faithful to our calling. It is when we have accomplished the task given us. It is when we have given our all, even our very lives. It is in precisely not betraying Jesus but rather following him to the end.
Such is the legacy we pass on to our children and our children’s children. “For I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you” (1 Cor 11:23a). Whatever we receive from Jesus we hand over to others. What we hand over is always for good and never for bad. What we hand over is Jesus. Therefore our spirit, the very Spirit of God in us, lives on.
God bless you.