What is Spy Wednesday?

The entire world quivers in anticipation of tomorrow’s Golden Halo battle between Julian of Norwich and either Dietrich Bonhoeffer or Sojourner Truth. As you may know, the Supreme Executive Committee has referred to this final round as taking place on “Spy Wednesday.”

spywednesdaypaintingSeveral of you have asked us about this unusual name for the Wednesday in Holy Week. Ever willing to educate and inspire, we are only too happy to oblige.

Spy Wednesday gets its name because this is the day on which Judas betrayed Jesus to the Sanhedrin. Because Judas is thought to be sneaky, his actions conjured up the image of a spy. The synoptic gospels all include an account of the betrayal — Matthew 26:12-14, Mark 14:10-12, Luke 22:3-6.

This is how the Gospel of Luke recounts the events:

Then Satan entered into Judas called Iscariot, who was one of the twelve; he went away and conferred with the chief priests and officers of the temple police about how he might betray him to them. They were greatly pleased and agreed to give him money. So he consented and began to look for an opportunity to betray him to them when no crowd was present. (Luke 22:3-6)

The illustration above evocatively depicts this infamous scene. If you go to Holy Eucharist every day of Betrayal of JudasHoly Week, the Gospel readings provide the narrative of Jesus’ final days, an ever-quickening story that spins out of control and finally brings us to Good Friday.

It is surely a strange juxtaposition to think about Spy Wednesday and Lent Madness in the same moment. But the whole point of Lent Madness is to engage us all in an exploration of the ways God’s grace has filled the lives of women and men through history and across all cultures. Sure, we’ve been silly and even competitive about our Lenten exercise. In the end though, we are learning to see in fresh ways how Jesus Christ matters to all humanity. That seems like a good and holy thing to do on Spy Wednesday.

27 Comments to "What is Spy Wednesday?"

  1. Donna Devlin's Gravatar Donna Devlin
    March 22, 2016 - 8:50 pm | Permalink

    Actually, it seems like a good and holy thing to do on any day. Long live the SEC and Lent Madness!

  2. Eileen C. Fisher's Gravatar Eileen C. Fisher
    March 22, 2016 - 9:14 pm | Permalink

    Thank you SEC and Celebrity Bloggers for another outstanding Lent Madness event. I learned a lot from all of you and the people who made comments. Thank you for all your hard work.

  3. Beth's Gravatar Beth
    March 22, 2016 - 9:36 pm | Permalink

    Is that a Rocky Horror reference I “spy” in the first line of this post? Hot patootie, bless my soul! (Possibly unintentional. No matter. Carry on. Love Lent Madness. Pay me no mind.)

    • k's Gravatar k
      March 23, 2016 - 9:56 am | Permalink

      too funny!

      just sipping coffee and strolling through the replies when your post woke me up (and made me sputter coffee onto the keyboard)

      still, that sort of reference certainly seems within the realm of the SEC

      • Beth's Gravatar Beth
        March 23, 2016 - 10:44 am | Permalink


        • Anne E.B.'s Gravatar Anne E.B.
          March 23, 2016 - 12:38 pm | Permalink

          Really love that rock and roll … Happy Spy Wednesday!

  4. Bill's Gravatar Bill
    March 22, 2016 - 9:38 pm | Permalink

    This was my first Lent Madness. Wow. A great way to spend part of my sabbatical. Thanks for doing this.
    BTW, They all should win. Remarkable people. I try.

  5. Jane's Gravatar Jane
    March 22, 2016 - 9:58 pm | Permalink

    Beautifully written, and so true. Thank you for this post!

  6. Jan Miller's Gravatar Jan Miller
    March 22, 2016 - 10:13 pm | Permalink

    Thanks! Aside from the minister who told me about Spy Wednesday forty years ago you’re the first to confirm the term. Now when I get the inevitable deer-in-the-headlights look from members of the collar club who aren’t in the know, I can confidently say it must be true ‘cuz I saw it on Lent Madness!!! VBG

  7. John of Concord's Gravatar John of Concord
    March 22, 2016 - 11:32 pm | Permalink

    Nice piece to post on our church Facebook page in Holy Week.

  8. Jen's Gravatar Jen
    March 23, 2016 - 12:06 am | Permalink

    I LOVE LENT MADNESS! I’m a 3rd year, I participate with my son (11) and husband (kid at heart). THANK YOU TO ALL THE BLOGGERS AND TIM+ and SCOTT+ and to OLIVER -AGE 8 (who always votes and comments just before me each morning).

    This Lent was very challenging for my family, so thank you for being you.

  9. March 23, 2016 - 2:20 am | Permalink

    Thank you as always Lent Madness team, superb celebrity bloggers and lovely, wonderful comment makers – you all make my day.

  10. Harlie Youngblood's Gravatar Harlie Youngblood
    March 23, 2016 - 5:19 am | Permalink

    Interesting rendition of Satan in the accompanying picture. His head looks rather dog-like. I once saw a depiction of the Temptation of Christ in the Wilderness in which Satan looked like the standard angel: white robe, dove wings, blond hair. But his face had a very mean expression.

  11. March 23, 2016 - 6:32 am | Permalink

    This was my first Lent Madness. My sister, a professor at Westmont College emailed me this site and thought I’d enjoy it. I certainly did! I love reading about the lives of the saints. I’m an Eastern Orthodox Christian so for me, I have a long way to go before I arrive at Holy Week and PASCHA (Easter) on May 1st. This was not only an inspiring devotional but it was incredibly fun! Thank you!

  12. Lithophyte's Gravatar Lithophyte
    March 23, 2016 - 6:49 am | Permalink

    Indeed a strange and perplexing deal. Reading various commentaries, Judas was a crook and did it for personal gain (certainly not going to retire on the funds received), or perhaps Judas was trying to force Jesus to be the Messiah he wanted him to be? And in today’s Forward day by day, some thought that Easter traditions and the basis for our Christian beliefs have to have Judas to start the process. Lots too ponder and think upon.

    It has been an interesting LM

  13. Joanne Parrott's Gravatar Joanne Parrott
    March 23, 2016 - 8:47 am | Permalink

    I will miss Lent Madness, I’ve learned so much . Thank you!
    I did vote for St. Julian for sentimental reasons, but Bonhoeffer is a Saint for our times.

  14. Jersey Granny's Gravatar Jersey Granny
    March 23, 2016 - 9:02 am | Permalink

    Thank you for all the work that goes into creating this imaginative, educational and fun lenten devotional. I understand that this is a team effort and i am grateful for the team.

  15. Lynda Jungkind's Gravatar Lynda Jungkind
    March 23, 2016 - 9:03 am | Permalink

    This is my first year to do Lent Madness, but not my last. I have thoroughly enjoyed this and I have learned so much. This was answer to my prayers of doing something new, educational and inspiring for Lent this year. Thank you to all!

  16. Becky Smith's Gravatar Becky Smith
    March 23, 2016 - 9:13 am | Permalink

    A little late to Lent Madness; already looking forward to next year!

  17. Phyllis's Gravatar Phyllis
    March 23, 2016 - 9:49 am | Permalink

    I am a “newbie” to Lent Madness, and I have enjoyed every minute of it. My adult daughter, who lives a good distance from me, and I have had a text connection every day doing Lent Madness together…did you vote? Don’t forget! We have learned a great deal, and we have struggled with daily votes (sometimes canceling each other out, if that’s possible). Oliver has shown us we can add our little guys next year; we look forward to that. Thank you SEC, celebrity bloggers, commenters, and participants who, like me, can’t wait for the e-mail each morning. Thank you for making us think, for stimulating our conversations, and for bringing us into community. Rather than to “give something up for Lent,” I have received a gift. Thank you, all. P.S. I have followed both Julian and Bonhoeffer from Day 1 in the Round of 32. What do I do now? Aarrgh!

  18. Willo's Gravatar Willo
    March 23, 2016 - 10:07 am | Permalink

    Thank you, thank you, thank you! Not only do you learn a lot, it makes the learning fun! Waiting patiently for the outcome.

  19. Claire Ameele's Gravatar Claire Ameele
    March 23, 2016 - 11:11 am | Permalink

    As a newbie to Lent Madness, I have been dazzled by the cleverness of this invitation to dig deeper into my faith. It’s the first thing I look at each morning, and I now have a much deeper understanding of how we all reveal our faith and God’s love for us in our daily lives. Friends and family have enjoyed laughing and learning about how faith is expressed, and I’m looking forward to next year already. The main thing I have taken away is that the real contest of our faith shouldn’t be confined to Lent; a tremendous gift! I think the SEC and bloggers also deserve golden halos. Thank you so very much!

  20. Patricia Nakamura's Gravatar Patricia Nakamura
    March 23, 2016 - 12:40 pm | Permalink

    This story seems strange. Surely all members of the Sanhedrin already knew very well who Jesus was, surely would recognize him on sight.

    • Harlie Youngblood's Gravatar Harlie Youngblood
      March 23, 2016 - 9:19 pm | Permalink

      It wasn’t that the Sanhedrin didn’t know who Jesus was, but they wanted to know
      how to arrest him when he wasn’t surrounded by a crowd of his supporters.

  21. Bonnie Gossett's Gravatar Bonnie Gossett
    March 23, 2016 - 4:18 pm | Permalink

    Thank you so very much SEC for another edifying Lent. The vote cannot go wrong as all of our choices this year are Saints. Hope we can continue to watch Oliver grow in his faith.

  22. Pat Johnson's Gravatar Pat Johnson
    March 23, 2016 - 5:28 pm | Permalink

    I wonder if it might be wise to revisit the term SPY and frame the actions of Judas in terms of more recent studies. Perhaps a more helpful message might focus on the pitfalls of hubris, though I am not sure that Hubris Wednesday would get the same “play” in the news. There is a theory that Judas, being the “banker” in the group and also one of the more fervent, wanted to goad Jesus into greater activism. This theory postulates that Judas thought he could bring about the activism HE believed best served the cause and at the same time build up the coffers to support his version of activism. It is also postulated that he did not suspect serious consequences would proceed from the payers, and that what he hoped only to scare Jesus silly and therby light a fire under him. When crucifixion became final outcome, Judas became a suicide. I’d like to hear how the Supreme Executive Committee might speak to that point of view.

  23. Mrs. B.'s Gravatar Mrs. B.
    March 24, 2016 - 12:06 pm | Permalink

    Pat, That is the best explanation of Judas that one could want. Does the word “iscariot” mean “zealot?” One writer (Horsley?”) pointed out that the Holy Land was awash with zealots. From what you say Judas sounds much more like a committed disciple and not so much of a cruel betrayer. Thanks.

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