Today is Maundy Thursday and I had been reading in my early morning devotion the gospels' accounts of the Last Supper. Up until then, I really had never noticed how many times the word "betray" was included in the text. I discovered it was too many times for my comfort anyway. Shortly afterwards, I picked up a book called "Facing the Wall" by Don Potter. Its subtitle reads, "A book for praise leaders and those who love to worship." In it he speaks of oil and its being a symbol of God's power manifested through the Holy Spirit. He also mentions that the oil that was used at the last supper was for dipping bread to soften it and "make it more palatable." (Don't you just love that word "palatable"? It even feels good on the tongue.) Of course, oil was used for other purposes as well including anointing for healing, for setting someone or some thing apart for holy service, and even embalming.
But in Matthew 26:23 Jesus said, "He who dipped his hand with Me in the dish will betray Me." Notice it does not say "bread" but "hand." You see, the oil was in a communal bowl that sat in the middle of the table in which all dipped. Therefore anyone who dipped his bread in the oil was to do so without letting his finger touch the oil else the oil become contaminated or defiled. But here's the interesting part. The Greek word translated "hand" in this particular verse is cheir, which means "literally or figuratively power .... grasping". It wasn't so much that Jesus' betrayer was going to dip, it was that he was going to defile the oil by putting his hand in it. In other words, he was going to grasp (or attempt to) the power of the anointing and make it his own. How dangerous can that be!
This got me to thinking. How often does the Lord anoint you or me with some special something? It could be a number of different ways. Teaching, preaching, ministering to the poor, sick or lonely, leading in worship, wise counseling, just to name a handful. But what happens is that when we take that anointing as our own -- grasp it as our own -- we attempt to take the power for ourselves, therefore becoming the betrayer. Just like Judas. The name Judas is a form of Judah which means, "He (God) shall be praised." Yes, it is possible to betray the Lord even when our intention is to praise Him. How does this happen? When we begin to think that because of our praise, we have earned the right to use Him.
You might says it begins when we dip our hand in the bowl. Betrayal. Anybody but me?
Just an ordinary moment...