Judas Iscariot, one of the twelve apostles, was someone who knew Jesus well. He had been with Jesus from the beginning of the public ministry. He ate with Jesus, traveled with Jesus, studied with Jesus, talked with Jesus, and had given up his way of life to follow Jesus. Judas knew Jesus well. He knew all the claims Jesus had made, he saw all the miracles Jesus had performed, and he was a witness to all of the lives that were transformed because of Jesus. Judas believed in Jesus and had great hope for the things that this messiah would accomplish. However, in spite of his intimate relationship with Jesus, Judas is able to muster the temerity needed to betray his teacher and friend.
Judas not only turned Jesus over to the authorities, he got paid for it. Given the circumstances surrounding the betrayal it is easy to see why Judas is often talked about with contempt. But as I sit here and think about this man who messed up so horribly I can’t help but wonder how closely I sometimes follow in his footsteps.
One meaning of betrayal is “to fail or desert especially in a time of need.” I cannot count the times in my life when I should have been there for Jesus only to be missing in action. God brings people into my life all the time. I believe that those people are there as an opportunity for me to join God in His work. He asks me to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, comfort the hurting, visit the prisoners, and make disciples of the lost – in short, help those in need.
Jesus gave his followers the responsibility of responding to these opportunities so that God could be glorified and people would come to know His love. Jesus said that he would have to leave earth and that he needed his followers to carry on the mission. When I don’t seize the opportunity to help the hurting and disadvantaged I betray Jesus and the trust that he put in me to do his will. If I don’t respond to those in need how am I any better than Judas?
I guess the one advantage I have over Judas is that I have not given up. Judas was so grieved by his sin that he killed himself. While I grief for the sin in my life, I also celebrate God’s forgiveness and plan to take advantage of the clean slate that His forgiveness provides. I pray that God will make me more aware of opportunities to serve and will gently prod me to respond appropriately.