“Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen one in whom I delight”
Monday, 29 March 2021
As we enter the drama of Holy Week, we are presented with a series of contradictions: friendship and betrayal; promises of loyalty and abandonment; tragedy amidst triumph and a paradoxical triumph in the depths of tragedy. That’s what I am going to talk about this week.
Isaiah’s account of Israel as God’s Servant – a suffering servant, but one whose sense of mercy-based justice will ultimately triumph – is juxtaposed with John’s Gospel account of Jesus surrounded by both his friends and enemies. Often it is hard to tell who is who in the milieu!
As I read this Gospel, I could not but think of a saying of my late grandfather: ‘God protect me from my friends; my enemies I can handle by myself’. There are friends who turn out false – they latch onto you for what they can get; if you don’t meet their expectations, they can turn out nasty, even betray. Are you listening, Judas, in your many names?
The enemies are more obvious. You can deal with them. Keep them at arm’s length; be firm and resolute in your interactions. Do not compromise your principles; above all, don’t let them see they are getting to you.
We are reminded of the example of Jesus. Keep your eyes on the prize, as the great African-American hymn reminds us. Do not be distracted. Stand up for what is true and just. Even if it looks like disaster, keep going, trusting that as God’s servant you will be ultimately vindicated.