What a plethora of meanings this one word has. From “don’t waste your food” – as in a help-yourself-buffet invites “eyes bigger than belly” syndrome … all the way up to “what a waste” – as a memorial service invites “why?” world war horror reflection.
Both five small letters. Both the same word.
“While Jesus was in Bethany in the home of Simon the Leper, a woman came to him with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, which she poured on his head as he was reclining at the table. When the disciples saw this, they were indignant. “Why this waste?” they asked. “This perfume could have been sold at a high price and the money given to the poor.” Matthew 26:6-9
That word waste.
I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one as we are one. While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by that name you gave me. None has been lost except the one doomed to destruction so that Scripture would be fulfilled. John 17:11-12
That word waste. Again.
Can’t see it?
Neither could I. It goes back to the Greek word: “ἀπώλεια” – and that word in John (“destruction”) which is the same root as the word in Matthew (“waste”).
And here in John we have Judas Iscariot – “the one doomed to destruction so that Scripture would be fulfilled.”
The villain. The one embroidered and digitally enhanced with a “we always knew it would end in tears” … see his slitty eyes … that furtive look … had his hand in the till all along … we could tell. We could tell he was not one of us. Bad blood you see. Not like me. Not like us.
Not like us?
Us who “waste” time each day. Who put to waste relationships so often. Who waste energy in endless bickering about who is right or wrong. Who waste opportunities looking at the fluff in our belly-buttons rather than out there in front of us. Who waste money, skills, gifts, emotions … and let’s not forget “grace freely given” … how we waste that so often. Every time we see it as a “heavy yoke” … or as “sacrifice on our part” … and all that well rehearsed “stuff”.
Not like us?
Who wonder about Hell and eternal damnation – destruction for ever (in the future when we die of course – not right now). And then call a moment in the “present” of God … a little bit of heaven (in the present whilst I live and breathe of course – right now). I know I do.
And He is lounging again, listening and nodding lovingly.
Because it seems to me that I am Judas Iscariot. All of us are Judas Iscariot.
If we choose.
If we choose to let a little destruction into our lives each day. A little bit of waste. A little bit of wasting away. A habit we allow to destroy just a little bit of us. To waste us a little bit. A tiny little bit of hell. And a tiny distance from my god. Just a smidgeon.
Grace freely given?
That other “little smidgeon” comes free as well. Just as hard to grasp as grace. And a lot easier to make part of me.
“The road to hell” is a journey. Just as the road with our lord is a journey. Just as Judas Iscariot had God. Just as he made choices every day. Incey-wincey-tiny ones. That no one noticed. Just like me.
We are all written in the Word of God.
And He left me with a question today:
“How will you fulfil scripture?”