I think God used comics to feed my imagination, my heart. Like so many socially inept geeks, we struggled to make sense of human beings and it was best to teach us through story - through myths and fables writ large.
But still, complexities of human behavior eluded us as we tried to survive and cope with the scorn of peers in High School and the inner shame we all had that "we were not what we wanted to be."
We learned to create and craft fantasy, because it kept our minds bright and gave us escape from the emotional gulag that was 8th grade - or 9th grade - or 10th. After that, you had put enough distance between you and the Neanderthals, you could actually live.
But then something even worse could happen.
You could be betrayed. You could have your heart broken by someone close to you. A close bud or girlfriend or boyfriend could do it. I'm going to say soemthing amazingly simple, but if you chew on it, it explains a lot of distancing and alienation we all feel in some form or fashion.
You can only be betrayed by someone close to you. You can only be stabbed in the heart by someone you love.
Your enemies may hound you or harass you, but you can just take that and mix in the "World is not my buddy" blender. You can tune that out.
But betrayal, really desecrating betrayal can only come from a friend, a very close friend, a lover.
A dear man and Christian psychiatrist once said to my class, "People who are recently divorced are more irrational than the clinically insane. I have dealt with the mentally ill, and they have predictable parameters. You can identify their problem and are prepared for it. But not the broken-hearted!" He shook his head.
"One man I know, a professional businessman, went and poured gasoline on his ex-wife's car and set fire to it. In broad daylight, in front of his neighbors!"
Not very subtle, huh?
It is the heart that drives the mind, not vice-versa. When we hear Caesar say "Et tu, Brute?" we know where it came from, but what is magnificent in it is the simplicity of Caesar's recognition of his old friend's betrayal. His sadness in the pronouncement.
"You too, buddy?"
To see a friend become an enemy is the greatest pain there is. King David, never one to mince words, writes of his won betrayal and you can just about hear the pathos in this psalm:
12 If an enemy were insulting me,
I could endure it;
if a foe were raising himself against me,
I could hide from him.
13 But it is you, a man like myself,
my companion, my close friend,
14 with whom I once enjoyed sweet fellowship
as we walked with the throng at the house of God.
Later, when Judas betrays Jesus Christ, we should be shocked at HOW it is done.
With a kiss, the most intimate sign of love and friendship. And Jesus calls him friend.
48 Now the betrayer had arranged a signal with them: "The one I kiss is the man; arrest him."
49 Going at once to Jesus, Judas said, "Greetings, Rabbi!" and kissed him.
50 Jesus replied, "Friend, do what you came for."
This was not a surprise to Jesus in the final analysis. We are told He knew who would betray Him, even when He chose the Twelve. I always thought that was a bit unfair or some strange supernatural ability.
I am coming to believe that it was nothing more than a pure heart and mind with enhanced intuition. We see it in women and children, often. We feel it when we see a co-worker's deceit. We smell it coming when an angry guy begins drinking. We know it's coming - it is just a matter of when.
I think Jesus gave Judas the money bag to hold, seeing his eyes upon it. I think He did it fearlessly. I think He sent Judas out to cast out demons with Matthew, so watching this ex-tax collector's joy might infect him. Of course, I am speculating on the limits of the son of Man, but it seems emotionally wise and fair for Him to operate this way.
He made EXTRA sure to treat Judas well. To keep him close, I think. What is the old proverb of the world? "Keep your friends close - and your enemies closer"?
The idea is you can observe them better - and as a side benefit, maybe see their heart change.
I think Jesus did it for both reasons. He reached and He loved. He set the timing of His own betrayal.
And when Judas had decided against Him, it was without merit - utterly.
Jesus knew the eternal consequences in His former disciple's soul when he chose that path. How awful damnation would be for such a man.
20 When evening came, Jesus was reclining at the table with the Twelve.
21 And while they were eating, he said, "I tell you the truth, one of you will betray me."
22 They were very sad and began to say to him one after the other, "Surely not I, Lord?"
23 Jesus replied, "The one who has dipped his hand into the bowl with me will betray me.
24 The Son of Man will go just as it is written about him. But woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man! It would be better for him if he had not been born."
So, this season as we approach Passion week, Good Friday and Easter, keep in mind the very human and emotional drama the son of God went through. Look at what and who has hurt you in the past, and ask Jesus to heal you there.
He understands all too well.
And if you have betrayed a trust, a friend who loved you, ask their forgiveness.
Unlike Judas, it is not too late. Not yet. The cross is for those who repent and believe.