“Therefore have I set my face like flint, and I know I will not be put to shame.”
Wednesday, 31 March 2021
Isaiah’s sense of resolution is quite remarkable. The earlier doubt and struggle is over. Trust in God has triumphed. I am reminded as I read this of a line from William Shakespeare’s play, Hamlet:
“If it be now, ’tis not to come. If it be not to come, it will be now. If it be not now, yet it will come—the readiness is all.”
This acceptance of fate seems to pervade the scene in the gospel of Matthew (Chapter 26), where Jesus listens calmly to Judas’ lies. We, the readers, know that Judas has already set the plan in motion that will lead to Jesus’ capture and execution.
And Jesus knows it too. But he, like Isaiah, has set his face like flint. He will not give up his mission now. Like Shakespeare’s Hamlet, he can also see that the wheels have been set in motion to kill him. But he is ready to face his fate, not out of self-destructive masochism but as a means to serve a higher purpose. For Jesus, it is God’s purpose.
My instinct – and I suspect the instinct of many of us – would be to denounce Judas in such a situation. “Liar! I know all about your plot!” But instead, Jesus responds with an almost noncommittal, “You have said so.” I wonder if he said it, staring directly into Judas’ eyes, with the hint of a knowing smile, perhaps even a sly wink, as if to say (without the others observing), “I know you’re lying. But I am not giving up!”
Would we have the strength to do the same?