Matthew 26:14-25 English Standard Version (ESV)
Judas to Betray Jesus
14Then one of the twelve, whose name was Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests 15and said, What will you give me if I deliver him over to you? And they paid him thirty pieces of silver. 16And from that moment he sought an opportunity to betray him.
The Passover with the Disciples
17Now on the first day of Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying, Where will you have us prepare for you to eat the Passover?18He said, Go into the city to a certain man and say to him, The Teacher says, My time is at hand. I will keep the Passover at your house with my disciples. 19And the disciples did as Jesus had directed them, and they prepared the Passover.
20When it was evening, he reclined at table with the twelve.[a] 21And as they were eating, he said, Truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me. 22And they were very sorrowful and began to say to him one after another, Is it I, Lord? 23He answered, He who has dipped his hand in the dish with me will betray me. 24The Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that man if he had not been born. 25Judas, who would betray him, answered, Is it I, Rabbi? He said to him, You have said so.
Hebrews 12:1-3 English Standard Version (ESV)
Jesus, Founder and Perfecter of Our Faith
12Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
Do Not Grow Weary
3Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.
Yesterday we considered the raw vulnerability of Jesus choosing to remain open in love toward Judas, even though He knew Judas would betray Him. Today we journey more with Judas, a trip we don’t often relish.
What is it about this disciple that stirs up so much dissension in us? Are we merely being protective of our Lord, sympathizing with Him through the betrayal to the Sanhedrin?
Or is it that we intuitively sympathize with Judas to the degree that resultant distracting behaviors emerge to help us avoid the connection to our own lives Judas represents?
Isn’t it interesting that the disciples, one after another, asked, “Is it I, Lord?” (v. 22) When we read this passage we tend to skip over that and move right into our very real ill feelings toward Judas. Were the disciples unsure of themselves? Wouldn’t they simply believe it couldn’t be them no matter how unknown the future may be? This is one of those confusing places of scripture that challenges and hopefully invites us to move into the mysterious places of our faith.
One of the truisms of being human is that we tend to see in others what we would rather not see in ourselves. But Judas is our mirror.
We look to Judas and we are filled with indignation. We look at the other disciples and we wonder why they didn’t just say they knew without a doubt they weren’t capable of such betrayal – and if we are really honest, we imagine we wouldn’t say, “Is it I, Lord?”
We are constantly using others as projection screens to cast the loathed parts of ourselves out there, anywhere, just as long as it’s away from us. But, if we look closely enough, we see our own image reflecting back at us when we look at Judas.
This is because we ARE meant to reflect an image. It’s part of our design.
And Hebrews 12 tell us in verses 1-3 that since we are surrounding by such a great throng of image-bearers reflecting their true image in Christ as our examples, let us cast aside all these projections, all these false ways of being, onto the cross (instead of others) and move through the life Jesus has set before us looking to Him alone to be who we were meant to be from before we were born.
As we discovered yesterday, Jesus vulnerably continued to willingly be open to wounding, ever reaching toward Judas in love. Jesus models for us the posture of love toward others we will have when we truly look to Him for our life. Only then can we see others as they are and remain open to being hurt when they look at us with their own eyes of unforgiving judgement.
When you look at Judas, what do you see?
When you place yourself in this scene, what are you saying or feeling?
A traditional church interpretation of Judas’ subsequent suicide holds that it was a result of his unwillingness to accept the forgiveness from Jesus that was still being offered. Are there areas of your life that you struggle with accepting that you are forgiven? Do these areas show up in things you don’t like about others?
Don’t move too swiftly from this place of reflection. Much of the time the little annoyances or outright dislikes we hold of others present us with a key to our need of forgiveness in our own lives, and bring into focus those weights that need to be cast aside in order to run the race more freely.
Image by Ron Cogswell