As Debit cards first came into use, they were called “check cards.” Bob Dole made fun of his 1996 election loss as he recounted his return to Russell, Kansas – the place where everybody knows him and calls him by his name. He’s walking in a parade in his honor. Kids hand him flowers. They make a point that everybody knows him and calls him “Bob.” He walks into a restaurant and is greeted by all the patrons and the proprietor with calls of “Bob!” Then, it comes time to pay. He asks, “Will you take a check?” The response was “sure, do you have any ID?” Then comes the pitch for the check card that takes the money directly from your checking account. The commercial ends with Bob shaking his head and saying, “I just can’t win.”
I think of that commercial every time I read the story of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. He had gone there to pray, preparing for His upcoming crucifixion. Peter, James, and John were supposed to be praying as well, but they fell asleep until Jesus let them know that the time had come. “Just as he was speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, appeared. With him was a crowd armed with swords and clubs, sent from the chief priests, the teachers of the law, and the elders. Now the betrayer had arranged a signal with them: ‘The one I kiss is the man; arrest him and lead him away under guard.’” (Mark 14:43-44)
If the event wasn’t so sad and so serious, this story would be hysterical. Jesus had been teaching for about three years and most of that time He had gotten under the skin of the Pharisees on many occasions. This week alone He had entered Jerusalem as the Messiah to the cheers of the crowds and He had cleared the Temple of the money changers and those selling sacrificial animals. You would think that people would know who Jesus was. But, perhaps this crowd was just a group of goons that the chief priests controlled who didn’t get out much. Maybe they didn’t know Jesus that well. There were a lot of people in that group – thirteen including Jesus and disciples – well, now twelve. There were also a lot of other followers. Perhaps they were afraid that Jesus would deny that He had been teaching. Or maybe, it was because they needed this identification from Judas to let Jesus know that He had been betrayed by one close to Him. This was the knife in the back that was supposed to demoralize Him and make Him give up…not realizing that this was all part of God’s plan.
I do understand how Bob Dole feels. I went to a convention for my denomination in my home town. Members of my church were volunteering at the registration desk. I talked and joked with them for a while, and then I said, “Ok, I’m missing out on what’s happening inside. Let me register,” as I handed my credentials to my friends. They looked at that and asked me, “Do you have any picture ID?” If you are reading this, the odds are that you claim to be a follower of Christ. You may attend church. You may do good works and help others. If you needed to prove that you were a follower of Jesus, though, what would your identification be. Would it be a fellow believer, who, in difficult times, would be ready to betray you? Would it be those you know in church who have seen you worship, or heard you teach, and know the spirit within you? Would it be the people that you have ministered to who felt the effects of your commitment to Christ? If our identity is in Christ, then people who know us ought to be able to identify us to others as a follower of Christ. Let your life be so caught up in Christ, in showing mercy and grace like He does, that people will know without any doubt, that you are a follower of Christ.
Oh Lord, let me live my life so that not only will people identify me as Your follower, but that they will be thankful for a good example of one who serves You.