Mk14v1-2 Stealth. If they are not mere pantomime baddies, I wonder what that conversation was like, was there a debate, who proposes such a motion, what Paris Attacks loomed large in the mind of this parliament of priests and scribes, and who rallied opposition rebels at the eleventh hour with the spectre of Franco and Hitler, and what greater-good was presented as just cause for just war? And so to you Phil, how do I plot minor violences, how do I vote with my feet and by default to serve a status quo and obscure collateral damage by veiled, muffled, encrypted ethical language. My responsibilities to my dependents are clear, the moral case for drone strikes against this Galilean threat to my peace is vital - my position has nothing to do with organised jealousy, risk-averse self-reliance, politickal pride, faith in the tradition of the nation state nor affection for the comforts of the market economy.. Sometimes murder is just the most responsible thing to do. Lord, have mercy.
Mk14v3-4 there are surely many things I mean-mindedly refuse to give over in extravagant worship, but *time* springs to mind as a key resource in this category. What happened to 'soaking', to wasting time with Jesus? Whatever this next season is, I want it to soak.
Mk14v5-6 It's the smell, if there is such a thing. We are still cost engineering prophetic perfume performance in the low churches to spite our nose. Fragrances, odours, smell is a shortcut to body memory (v9), and body memory is how we habituate the gospel. Man dwells aromatically. We are in Christ and Christ is in you, by the lungfull, as if stood at the tea factory's furnace, saturated with a potent inimitable preconceptual description of salvation.
Mk14v7-8 'you will not always have me'. How do we live in the light of an incarnation we cannot touch or smell or see? I remember a sunny morning in West Kensington being angry and sad with God that I was being asked to celebrate 'the word made flesh', but yet the fleshiness of God has gone again, not for us, disincarnate once more. The incarnation now is different to the incarnation then, we deceive ourselves if we don't acknowledge it. There is a right grieving and longing in this, longing for the Rev1v17 moment where he places his right hand (full of stars) on me, and says 'do not be afraid'.
Mk14v9-10 To one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life. Who is sufficient for these things? (2Co2v16) So then v10, the smell, it seems, was the last straw, conspicuous and impractical and costly - offensive in every way to anyone with a sense of justice or decency. I rather imagine Judas gets to the chief priests' lair still smelling pungent and multivalent.
Mk14v11-12 Judas. I want to psychologise Judas through the pages of the text, but I hold my speculations lightly. It seems indeed that witnessing wasteful worship was the tipping point at which he wanted to be free of Jesus. There's a fear to being entangled with a person or a group who have a wild lawlessness about them. The fear of finding oneself on the wrong side of the law through relational contamination is a powerful fear. I get it. The power of legalism is always slinking around like a snake, whispering to betray this chaotic improprietous Jesus. This whilst at the same time living with my own secret law-breaking, like Judas theft (Jn12v6). We see the devil enter Judas (Lk22v3), for the devil always milks & maintains the hypocrisy and double faithlessness to Jesus that the law begets: fear & self-deception, which morph into pride & guilt respectively. God have mercy on me, a Judas.
Mk14v13-14 [Go in to the city.. the Matthew parallel is a verse I've prepared for YWAM today, spooky. See Mt26v18 for homeless Jesus' prescience goo.gl/A4rqyT] But this morning I am struck by the Markan city as a place of abberance and minority interest; and by God as one peculiarly interested in those deviating from socially prescribed, tediously homogenous, measures of heteronormativity. When Jesus issues Neo a "Follow the white rabbit." he chooses a man carrying a water, a man doing woman's work, like Gideon threshing wheat Jg6v11. He could have picked any distinction, a woman in a red dress, but he delights to elect for the grand stage of recorded history, a character who is more than incidentally unusual. It is an essential characteristic of the city that it is a congregation of the eccentric, a density of diversity, of juxtaposed irregulars. A faith consisting in a love of and for the bizarre is thus especially suited to the urban experience. Are you? Do you? Love London thusly.
Mk14v15-16 & who was the rabbit? Who is this secret agent so attuned to the Christ and who provides in the moment everything we needed? An angel unaware? To love our urban eccentrics is not to fetishize them or lump them into a category of the unnormal whom we are 'do good' to. No, it is also to receive humbly lessons & leading & hospitality from our fellow city-dwellers, Jesus way have already whispered in their ear that they have something for us.
Mk14v17-18 Betray. No small let down, no mere dropping of the ball. Betrayal is the calculated change of allegiance, the egregious reversal of loyalty to the enemy. There is an enemy. And one of you has picked his side. One of you is utterly duplicitous, caring nothing, understanding nothing, deceiving and deconstructing everything for nothing. Jesus could smoke out this double agent, route out this mole, rally a witch hunt. But, what curious love is this, so assured that love wins that he would welcome this suicide bomber with open arms? I am not merely undeserving, I am ill-deserving. I do not merely fall short, I actively and diabolically short circuit Jesus, conniving to betray daily. What love is this?
Mk14v19-20 Upset & troubled & questioning. It might seem cruel of Jesus to announce to the disciples that one will betray him...but I'm not going to tell you who! As though subjecting them all to some kind of ambiguous existential Russian roulette. But I think this is deliberate, for they all *could* be traitors, & the angst stirred by his statement reveals it. Jesus the light is always in the business of showing us ourselves, & we must always feel the possibility of our own betrayal in order to choose faithfulness. This is true of our marriages, friendships, churches, art, activism & all conviction, as well as our covenant with Christ. Our faithfulness is not automatic. It's a work and a choice, not a default. So feel the fear, acknowledge your own darkness in the face of the light, in order to choose to stay, for a more authentic joy.
Mk14v21-22 Where did it all go wrong? Is it realistic or fatalistic to rue the day you were born? Born, as we are born into trouble as the sparks fly upwards Jb5v7. If only we could be born again Jn3v3! That we might be even as those untimely born 1Co15v8. The lamentation #Born This Way is sung triumphant because that is the only compassionate response unless there is hope of rebirth, if we cannot absolve shame, we can at least rebrand it Ph3v19. If I concede I was born with design flaw, that I am damaged goods, that I was set up to fail, if I self-understand as such but without rebirth, I have only unbirth, the entropic zombie nihilism that seeks not to go forth and multiply but rather to divide the birth rate to diminish the virus of human biomass. But v22 Jesus has borne that body-breaking of being unborn, so that we no longer have to be towards death only, but towards new birth.
Mk14v23-24 Jesus offers the cup. Then they drink. Then Jesus explains. And the explanation itself points to a third 'then', the bigger reality of his death & resurrection to come. In the Eucharist the divine precedes me along axes of logic, metaphysics & epistemology. The logic of the gift precedes me in form, in content, & in conditions of possibility. Christ precedes me as the explainer, the explained & the explanation itself.
Mk14v25-26 And when they had sung a hymn. Voici la nuit, // L'immense nuit sur la colline, // Et rien n'existe hormis le Corps, // Hormis le Corps criblé d'épines :// En devenant un crucifié, // Dieu fécondait comme un verger, // La terre où le plantait la mort. youtu.be/To12weAKpWc
Mk14v27-28 Jesus to me: 'you will fall away...but I will go ahead of you.' & I nod, like that scene in good will hunting, & he repeats it again & again until I want to punch him in the face and then weep. I am so much more fallen away than I ever expected. But the But. But the But God. But resurrection outruns me, it is always before me. It is much more true good & beautiful than I thought. Jesus to you: 'you will fall away...but I will go ahead of you.'
Mk14v29-30 While the Queen of Hearts is busy believing as many as six impossible things before breakfast, you're busy disbelieving improbable things. Waster. Faker. Unbeliever. I find your lack of faith disturbing. Me? Not I, surely. Though all be offended, I shall not, not me, nuh uh. Jesus could never ask too much of me, could never push me too far. Jesus' tidy worldview of middle class propriety, liberal easy expectations, and generally mellow disposition is conveniently congruent with my existing lifestyle. And me, I've seen it all before, I'm kind of big deal, I'm a snowflake, I have great self-esteem and I'm more competent than average.. I believe. Help my unbelief.
Mk14v31-32 Never say never. Never say always. Say instead Rm7v21 'When I want to do good, evil is right there with me.' Peter here embodies the antithesis of the meditation on v19-20 on feeling the possibility of one's own traitorship. I am disordered desire and disturbing dependence. Never say never, say there but by the grace of God, and then gasp for said grace, as needed as oxygen.
Mk14v33-34 'Greatly distressed, troubled.. very sorrowful' Ellis Potter's 3 Theories of Everything claims all worldviews spring from the hurt we find ourselves in. As if a most primary state would be to claim: I hurt therefore I am. As Pina asks, Where does all this yearning from? Moby asks, Why does my heart feel so bad? .. But belted, more as Ewan McGregor's Roxanne bellows: Why does my heart cry? Feelings I can't hide. It. Is. More. Than. I. Can. Stand. Lamentations, turned up to 11. Jesus feels. Knowing within his body a living death, he perfectly imagines and perfectly viscerally anticipates the rapidly rising utter darkness, the faceless body of blackest black screaming rust against bone as it tears torture through the tunnels of the void toward him, the harrowing spectre of total night visiting agony on every ashen atom treacled infinitely by the extinguishment of him the only light of the world. The only light of the world.
Mk14v35-36 Sometimes it better to leave commentary to one side and to pray the prayer your given, for self and for others, with weeping and aching and doubt and hope and anger and gratitude, over and over, in many voices: 'Abba, everything is possible for you. Please take this cup. Yet. Your will not mine.' Abba Abba Please Please Everything Everything Yet Yet Please Abba Abba Abba.
Mk14v37-38 "Asleep.." #Stay in bed, float up stream.. Sleeping, only sleeping, sleeping like a baby, sleeping on the job, sleeping with the fishes. The Bible considers all of these: Sleep is a gift from God (Ps127v2, Mk4v38); Sleep is a form of death (Ps13v3, Mk5v39, Jn11v11); and Sleep is an irresponsible laziness with grave consequences (Pr20v13, Mt25v5 and here Mk14v38). How should we then sleep? How, and indeed when? Because the gift of sleep appropriately received is contingent on timing, day timing (1Th5v8). .. "..the flesh is weak" and thus must be rested rightly, so to do day time Christianity as an enfleshed thing ~ faith without works is a kind of waking dream, a disembodied belief. We are called to a wide awake faith, muscle and bone faith, a Christianity of the open air. Time is short and today we need all praying hands on deck.
Mk14v39 And prayed, saying the same words. Abba Abba Everything Everything Please Please Yet Yet Abba Abba again and again.
Mk14v40 They did not know what to say to him. Wordlessness is not such a bad place to be. Wordlessness does not try to justify or explain, it feels its need for repentance, and stutters and stumbles, knowing how easily words become cheap, vain, hollow, distortive, abusive. This Lent I seek to truly go Into The Silent Land with Christ.
Mk14v41-42 "Are you still sleeping?" Still drowsy? Still reading the bible bleary eyed? Still yawning floating adrift in obscure instincts, vague opinion, the mediocre moral mores of the anonymous mass. Still barely conscious at the wheel behind the misted windscreen of social media, fogged by people pleasing's pliability, daydreaming the irresponsible apparatus of life. I am. Enough is enough. Tick follows Tock. Time's up. Game Over. With a jolt, Christianity is mainlining caffeine. Jesus stands at the door and knocks: Knock, knock, Neo. The game is a foot.
Mk14v43-44 I have been thinking about betrayal in my work, for betrayal is necessarily triadically interpersonal. You cannot betray a person with an idea, attitude or omission alone. You can disappoint them or hurt them with such things, but this is not traitorship proper. Judas betrayed Jesus to an Other. Judas made allegiance about utility rather than being submitted to the singular irreducibility of his relationship with Jesus. As such it became possible foe him to care more about what alligence to the pharisees could offer him than allegiance to Jesus. Loving Jesus is not an ideology, or even a way of life. Loving Jesus is an irreducible (& ultimate) allegiance.
Mk14v45-46 We have mixed motives. We are finite knowers. We work with best intentions. But there are only two sides. Mt12v30 For or against. Mk9v40 Against or for. But there is no middle ground. And time is short. 'Betrayer' is, on balance, the boat both feet are in, regardless your frantic paddling. (But it is not for us to judge whose heart is such.) Judas exchanged the glory of Jesus' vulnerability for the power of empire, he betrays the irreducible gospel of a personal God of love, preferring a comfortable lie above the supreme being who sustains vast hetero-geneous multiplicities in his overflow of love. Judas exchanges that for a lie, betraying Jesus not for Caesar-qua-Caesar per se, but for an idea, a mirage, an illusion, a homo-genous extension of the same old sameness, familiar rule of force pursuing infinite tribal agglomeration. Judas-qua-betrayer is enthralled to free falling inertia hurtling towards the lowest common denominator of oneness.
Mk14v47-48 Jesus shows us the foolishness of our armour. Ordinarily, and for the most part, Jesus shows us how entirely foolish our defense budget is, how entirely self-defeating & revealing of our own insecurity & lack of wisdom are our military campaigns. This applies at every scale and in every domain, in all relations, attitudes & policies. It applies to every spikey word I speak. Come, let us beat our swords into ploughshares. Amen.
Mk14v49-50 In the dark places, we Pharisees do dark deeds of commission, conspiring to murk Jesus, to bled and die Jesus, and so silence his threat to our power. In the dark places, we Disciples do dark deeds of omission, conspiring to desert Jesus, to fled and fly Jesus, and so silence his threat to our power. .. Jesus invites us to a daily daytime daylit day-to-day life with him. AA Step 4, from last night, "Without a searching and fearless moral inventory .. the faith which really works in daily living is still out of reach" Lovers of the light, find people and places to be so transparent, so fearless, so alive. Daily.
Mk14v51-52 Commentaries note the linen of the young man's garment as the 15v46 burial robe of Jesus, & that the same word for 'young man' is used again 16v5 to describe the first announcement of Easter. Now: left naked & ashamed, as in Eden, having betrayed the Christ. On Easter morn: clothed in white, proclaiming the resurrection, a new creation. The darkness naked shame of Maunday Thursday is true. But. But Sunday's coming (& came, & already is.)
Mk14v53-54 Peter ventures "Right inside the courtyard" softly softly into the lion's den, going as a mute witness into the belly of the beast. Peter, in pantomime Lost Boys mode, adventuring with his wooden sword and water pistol. So confused. We, like Peter, are confronting the Powers, we set out against this (peculiarly urban) imperial force which would quash Jesus' revolution of love, but we bring our slingshots in vain. Christianity is not a vague optimism that we will magic up superpowers against the Powers, we don't tip toe into the courts with a superstitious sense that if we just reach out with our feelings we can shoot proton torpedoes into the exhaust port of the Death Star.. Jesus has come here to die, deliberately. It is with that wholly different confidence that we venture into the city.
Mk14v55-56 Fallen humanity's knowledge is finite & corrupted yet we cling to predetermined answers, scrabble for evidence that fits, and so follow the logic of violence. God's knowledge is perfect & superabundant yet God makes space for us to wrestle, following the logic of hospitality. While we were still violent, Christ gave us grace.
Mk14v57-58 We heard him say I will destroy a hundred red-brick low-rise tree-lined walkable sociable council estates 'made-with-hands', and in three days replace them with MMC off-site high-rise volumetric panelised podular modular synthetic versions of the domestic 'not-made-with-hands'. Is Jesus condemned here in a witch-hunt by a peculiarly Luddite jury? There are infinite disanalogies between Jesus resurrection claims and Cameron's naive and insidious ambition to bulldoze so-called sink-estates, however, (as last night with Wandsworth Against Cuts) I'm interested in the emotive common language used to oppose the new and unknown. My affirming the good of humane hand-made, devolves subtly into a nostalgic sentimentality, thence into defensively brittle better-the-devil-you-know, and finally I become dogmatic as Babel's self-made city, a monument to self-reliance Zp3v1-2, which ponders no future beyond now Hb9v11 and trusts in no Lord to build/fund/sustain our housing project Ps127.
Mk14v59-60 Quietly now, for She is very near...the Ps131v2 quietness of spirit is a promise for this season, but it is not just for 'quiet time', it's also for moments of interrogation, dialogue, and indeed moments of great stress. Jesus demonstrates quietness against chaos in this brief moment, so come on my soul.
Mk14v61-62 v61 "He remained silent and made no answer.." Why silent? v62 "I am" Why then answer? If he was going to answer, what purpose did he intend in first holding his peace? Noise reduction to clarify the signal. Ensuring the diagram of his murder is absolutely unambiguous, Jesus is exquisitely deliberate to ensure we kill him for the right reasons. Before Caiaphas he would be condemned as Messiah; and when before Pilate, executed as King. And not for any other trumped up charges; not in error; not because of church pain; not under the sway of science or language games or political convenience. Jesus death was not a collateral casualty in a wider battle of ideas, Jesus is the bulls-eye of our fury, the subject of our rebellion, standing nakedly in the laser sighted cross-hairs of our self-reliance. Have you killed Jesus yet? Was it a clean shot? He is infinitely God. You are infinitely wrong. Ready. Aim. Fire.
Mk14v63-64 Tearing one's clothes, an act of self-violence. Sometimes perhaps an authentic act of true grief or repentance, but here we see a false & inverted act. A ritual easily distorted, perhaps why the high priests are told not to tear their clothes Lv10v6. It reminds me of the compulsion to tear at my own skin, to harm myself when in distress. This is sin & sorrow inverted, acted-out, unhealed. Thus Jl2v13 rend your heart and not your garments.
Mk14v65-66 Witch-hunts to waterboarding to the forthcoming Ballardian High-Rise film, I am currently preoccupied with measuring the human capacity for senseless violence, superstitious cruelty, and the architecture which anticipates such. Here we see the scape-goat, the sacrificial lamb and the animality we regress to ourselves when we consider humans as anything less than fully human, say, as Hopkins' cockroaches.. Spitting: wordless contempt, pure primitive proto-scatalogical, an infantile projectile projection tarnishing by taboo, a saliva-ry smeary smear campaign. As it is written, it's what comes out of a man that makes him unclean Mk7v15.
Mk14v67-68 The look. A hundred thousand times found at the end of the look. The challenge is to neither destroy it nor assimilate to it, for Christ's sake. Homework.
Mk14v69-70 I'd never deny Jesus. Cold call me to a laboratory setting in an open-book proof-text exam and I'd give you the right answers. But it's never that simple. Those interested to elicit denial are interested to elicit denial, these are not disinterested dispassionate inquiries, these are accusations, there are sides, this is war, there are consequences. I'm struck by the cornering being engineered: "servant girl .. to the bystanders" - a triangle of shame in an emergingly complex jiu jitsu stranglehold, a lit sparkler of gossip held to the kerosene barrel of mob violence - it's simpler to deny first, then be asked questions later? .. "one of them" open-ended pronoun use, generic one-of-them vs one-of-us, a catch-all 'them' containing also paedophile priests, the Crusades, Ned Flanders, Westboro Baptist.. are you one of them?.. I deny Jesus by abridging nuance when deflecting association with other Christians, and by problematising the question (v68 'nor understand what you mean')
Mk14v71-72 Found here again, on the bathroom floor or pacing the hall, after all this time and all these words, with the rooster crowing in the distance. Frustration and failure and self-loathing. Again. It's the over and over of it all that's the worst. Oh God, have mercy. I cling to the Jn21 resurrection fire on the beach, the fish for breakfast, the promise (again) that this is not how it ends.