Holy Week brought many significant events. Many of those events have become markers in the story of Christ. All of them with purpose and all with meaning. To me, the Wednesday of Holy week is a deeply sad day.
With the wink of the eye and some 30 shekels the greatest betrayal of all time was underway. This, by far, is the most illustrious example of disloyalty. Judas Iscariot. It’s a name we all know. Even those unfamiliar with the Scriptures know of Judas. It is a name that has an association. We know him. We know his story. He left a legacy as the one who betrayed Jesus Christ.
People are intrigued by Judas. He is this complex character that nobody can fully figure out or understand. How could he know so much and yet know nothing at all? How could he be so close to Jesus and yet so incredibly far away. It is mind boggling, and yet, so simple. His life seems to mirror the reality of so many.
At any given time, Jesus had several hundred people following him. Scripture tells us he sent out 72 disciples. But of that, there were 12 that held close. They had a special place with him. HIs inner circle of 12 men, his disciples. And he tirelessly poured into them. He was shaping them through his teaching, training, and love for them. They had a front row seat as prophecy unfolded.
The scripture doesn’t single Judas out as the lowly of the bunch. He is never portrayed as a traitor. Even at the last supper when Jesus tells his disciples that one of them will betray him, nobody considered Judas to be the defector of the group. I wonder what Judas was thinking when Jesus said those words. But regardless, by then, the deal was done. In a matter of hours, the deal of 30 shekels sealed the Messiah’s fate.
Scripture doesn’t say too much about what happened between the time Judas began following Christ and the time of his ultimate betrayal and demise. It leaves us to wonder, to speculate and question how and why he could betray Jesus so foolishly. Judas walked with Jesus for 3 years. He was one of the few who knew the most about the Messiah. Judas was there at ever major event in the life of Christ. He witnessed the miracles, the healings, the life-changing powers of Jesus. And Judas was an active participant as a disciple. So, when did he go from follower of Christ to the biggest traitor of all time?
Books have been written about the man called Judas. Theories, guesses, and debates all dedicated to the subject of Judas. But as I look at the scriptures, and weigh it against our humanness, it really isn’t so hard to understand. There really is no surprise to his nefarious choice. That narrow path Jesus talked about is surrounded by broad roads that are appealing, enticing, and so much more pleasurable. It’s not even about being tempted to the alluring pull of the broad road. It is more of an innate want and a determination to quench an unhealthy appetite.
I believe Judas gave all appearances as a man walking closely with Jesus Christ. He knew the Christianese lingo and spoke it with confidence. He too performed miracles. He sat and listened intently to the many parables preached by Jesus. He looked the part and played it well. Until of course, it couldn’t be played anymore. Eventually, his life caught up and reflected the blackened areas of his heart and soul. It was just a matter of time.
So many are like Judas. They look the part in every way. But they will eagerly and gladly sell their soul for a shekel of this world. If something or someone comes along that looks better, easier, or brings a newfound “happiness” how easily they abandoned Christ. People get tired of waiting. They grow weary from trusting. Living between the boundaries of His ways is just too hard. And so, Jesus is traded for that temporary satisfaction that leads to destruction. We are more Judas than we realize.
Jesus said follow me. Follow me. Take up your cross and follow me! That means die to yourself. Your will. Your desires. Your flesh. I think Judas loved Judas more than he loved Jesus. I think there is a lot of that going on. I believe Judas wasn’t willing to surrender himself completely. His choice resulted in death. A violent death. An eternal separation from the one he proclaimed to follow so closely.
Check yourself this holy week. Are you following Christ with everything in your being or are you a replica of Judas selling yourself for a piece of a destructive world that will soon pass away? Are you proclaiming light and are yet, filled with darkness? If so, this week is purposed for you. That betrayal by Judas, well, that led to crucifixion. And that crucifixion? That, my friend, led to the redemption he so freely wants to give. Through the power of the resurrected one, restoration is possible.
John 1:6-7 says, “If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all[a] sin.”