I was reading a book the other night in which a massive betrayal happened between two friends. The thing is the betrayed one knew he was going to be betrayed and yet he still allowed it to happen, not because he knew he would escape, he knew he would die but he also knew his death served a larger purpose. I’m not sure if the writer of the book was meaning to draw comparisons with the Jesus/Judas narrative but the resemblance is there. This led me to think over the life of Judas Iscariot, this is what I came up with
Judas like most Jews had probably heard of how the messiah would come and he looked forward to it, especially because of the rule of the Romans which was less than desirable. I imagine him to be a pretty smart guy who was getting by in life. Then he met Jesus, he was actually called by Jesus and he was enthralled by the wisdom and power of the man. We are astounded by Jesus’ life from the little we have recorded, imagine how he must have been to live around. Judas probably knew at once that this was the messiah. He probably expected any moment that Jesus would make a play for the throne.
Then as time went by his view probably changed. He saw a man who cared more about telling people how to be reconciled to God than any political agenda. There was probably some disappointment involved but I figure it was overtaken by a new agenda. He realized that this man Jesus was a bank with legs. People would donate money to his every day of the week and twice on Sunday. Judas being the smart and shrewd man that he was, was only too keen to be the man to handle the funding, he could even sneak a penny or two out for personal needs, not too much but just enough to get new sandals maybe even that tunic with the stripes.
He probably was quite happy that none of the other disciples were looking to get in on his job, they were more interested in sitting and listening to Jesus speak, why couldn’t he do both. And then there was also the power. Jesus gave them power to heal people and even drive out demons. He was not selfish about this and was keen to do some good. He had a sweet deal going on and no one suspected him. Three years in he gets tired of constantly being on the move. His friends from back home had probably settled down with wives and there he was, still on the move. Jesus words were having less and less an effect on him, he had heard it all before. Repent this, the kingdom of God is at hand that. When was it going to end? Then he heard the whispers, the authorities had enough of Jesus and they wanted him dealt with. Put away, possibly even killed.
They were on the way to Jerusalem and Jesus sent him and some other disciple on what he probably looked at as a pointless venture. He had been on a number before and had gotten used to the spectacle, they would find things as Jesus said but it meant less and less to him. Turns out Jesus was organizing a meal for them in Jerusalem but this time it had nothing to do with him collecting money and buying stuff. Judas must have been disappointed. During the meal Jesus goes on and on about stuff that wasn’t making sense, calling the bread his body and the wine his blood, he was always saying enigmatic things like that. Then Jesus said one of them in there would betray him, the thoughts were already spreading in Judas head but it reached its worst when Jesus looked at him and told him to do what he was supposed to do. Judas had no idea what Jesus was talking about but he had had enough
|Off he went, to broker the deal|
As soon as the meal was over he snuck out and made bee line to the authorities. He was ushered in and explained who he was, then he made his offer. He would give them Jesus, he would take them right to him but he needed to be rewarded for his part. The authorities spoke among themselves then offered him thirty silver pieces, Judas could feel his mouth water at the thought of that much money. This was substantially more than he could pinch from the coffers with Jesus at any one time. The authorities mobilized more men than he thought necessary, considering they said they wouldn’t kill Jesus. He probably tried to tell them that Jesus was just with the eleven others but they told him to lead the way and leave the organizing to them. He shrugged it off and led the way.
As they approached the garden Judas’ heart started beating faster and faster. As they reached the garden he skulked back a little. The authorities took it from there. Jesus told them who he was when they said they were looking for him but they did not move forward, maybe they doubted it was really him, it being dark and all. Then Judas gained the courage and walked up to Jesus for the betraying kiss. As he walked up to Jesus he expected Jesus to be angry or even look sadly betrayed. He kissed Jesus on the cheek and pulled back.
Staring into Jesus face he saw what he was not expecting. Not anger, even sadness at the betrayal or even hatred but love. It’s easier to betray someone when they angry with you but when the person still loves you despite of what you have done and what you are doing, that just hit a different nerve in Judas. What he saw in Jesus eyes, on Jesus face must have shook him to the core. Jesus knew and accepted what Judas had done and still loved him. You can see Judas at this point turning around and running away in shame, the authorities did not care, they got there man. As he ran he could not shake the look on Jesus face. After all he had done, Jesus knew it all and yet he still loved him. Why? Why would Jesus love him? He couldn’t even love himself. Judas probably spent a number of hours being tormented by the love of God and his utter sinfulness till he could take it no more.
He probably looked at the money and saw it as blood money, he could not have it and could not use it. So he went back to the authorities to take the money back but the damage was done. Throwing the money at their feet he ran away, tormented by the very same thought. You can see Judas troubled by the thoughts of what he had done. He probably wanted some form of redemption but felt too sinful to be saved. Even if God could and wanted to save him he figured he wasn’t worth saving. Taking matters into his own hands Judas killed himself.
Now I have animated the story in parts, well more than a few parts. But I think the Judas story is one that we can all relate to in one way or another but the one I want to focus on is the part at the end. God’s love towards us elicits one of two responses when it hits us in its magnitude. It is a stumbling block in either situation. Situation one has us broken by it when we realize that for all we have done he still loves us and is willing to redeem us. This situation has us running to him for repentance and salvation because we know that life outside of his grace is hopeless and meaningless. Situation two is the one where we see ourselves as too sinful for us to be saved and Judas was a typical case of this. It must be said that not all commit suicide not even the majority but some do. The rest live their lives always running away from God because they think they are too bad to be saved
This final scenario is ‘pride clothed in false humility’ to borrow a phrase from a poem that I like. It is thinking God is not strong enough to save us. Never equate the power of God to detergent for clothes. Some think that no matter what the stain will just not go because it is too tough or it’s in too deep. Don’t be proud like that, one your stain is not tough for God, nothing is and two God will get you a new shirt, new life, that is better and brighter than the old one. Quit being Judas, quit running. Leave the pride behind and come to God for the forgiveness you need, you’ll never regret it