THE ARREST OF JESUS
Judas brought a detachment of soldiers together with police from the chief priests and the Pharisees, and they came there with lanterns and torches and weapons. Then Jesus, knowing all that was to happen to him, came forward and asked them, ‘For whom are you looking?’ They answered, ‘Jesus of Nazareth.’ Jesus replied, ‘I am he.’ Judas, who betrayed him, was standing with them. When Jesus said to them, ‘I am he’, they stepped back and fell to the ground. Again he asked them, ‘For whom are you looking?’ And they said, ‘Jesus of Nazareth.’ Jesus answered, ‘I told you that I am he. So if you are looking for me, let these men go.’ This was to fulfil the word that he had spoken, ‘I did not lose a single one of those whom you gave me.’
They saw him and were amazed, but we can be alive to wonder, and still betray, having built rooms within ourselves in which to hide and pretend that we can be unknown to God. When we try to move beyond these rooms, we carry torches and heft weapons, so that we might prove that the force that keeps us small, and our happy consent to our fall, is a power that is greater than God’s. We enact brutality on the beloved, try to put out the eyes that are wide with grace, to prove that the smallness we believe in is really what we believe.
Think of a usual day. The confused tiredness of three in the afternoon, with the long, numb evening still to respond to. Think of the slight, inarticulate fear of leaving the house. Outside we might still be lonely, even in a crowd. And so many of our memories are hampered, somehow, by someone’s sneer or complete ignoring of our lives. Even when wonder is as simple as a line of light, tracing a building in the morning, who can we say this to, who would understand? Even when we pray, if we’re in public, if we extrovert a little gasp of joy, how can we trust it, if everyone around us is gasping to, if it seems to be, simply, the thing to do? Wonder, the low thrum beneath the beat of time, demands too much, demands a trust we may not have. Better to ignore it. Better to betray.