“Very early in the morning the leading priests and the elders of the people met again to lay plans for putting Jesus to death. Then they bound him, led him away, and took him to Pilate, the Roman governor. When Judas, who had betrayed him, realized that Jesus had been condemned to die, he was filled with remorse. So he took the thirty pieces of silver back to the leading priests and the elders. “I have sinned,” he declared, “for I have betrayed an innocent man.” “What do we care?” they retorted. “That’s your problem.”
This grips my heart. I read how a follower of Jesus, someone who purported to love and announce the Kingdom of Heaven along with the other 11 radical disciples, became so offended by Jesus that he felt He must be stopped. I know it fulfills prophecy. I know this was all part of God’s plan. I know He works all of this into the marvelous tapestry of His resurrection story. I also know I’ve been a Judas..
Judas had his own ideas of how Jesus should usher in the Kingdom of God. He loved the business side of the equation. He counted and stewarded the coins. He kept close tabs on the success of Jesus’ ministry. The numbers didn’t add up to his liking. Jesus was too generous, too unconcerned with the bottom line, too holy for Judas, and this mystical, merciful man gave Judas a headache. Bitter resentment crept in. A little silver, a little gold re payed the resentment debt. After all, Jesus owed it to Judas to prove He was Messiah. Like Jonah, Judas was angry with God at His mercy.
How have I been Judas? I’ve kept score, adding up the side of all I’ve given up for the Kingdom, weighed it against all He has done for me, and found it wanting. I’ve kept track of the wrong things, built a case against Jesus in my heart of how He should have used me, how He should usher in His Kingdom, how blessed I should be.
Judas rubbed up against Jesus and all his flaws popped up like chicken pox on the surface of his soul, painful, open sores of self-interest, oozing expectations. To save Judas Jesus lived before him in light that made Judas see himself as he really was and wince. Did Judas come to realize his rebellion, his inner anti-Christ too late? I appeal to the mercy of God, and to the wisdom of Heaven’s Lord on this one. I only know myself, that I have often come to see the truth and repent late in the day, far too late to make amends, and I have been forgiven. For some answers we will have to wait.
I’ve also been like Jesus. By the mercy and grace of God, I have walked before others in Kingdom light and produced gratitude, freedom, and peace in some, resentment, bitterness, and conflict in others. You have too. For some, the light is a painful reminder of inner rebellion. Jesus said, “The servant is not greater than His Lord.” He reminded us to rejoice when we are persecuted for being righteous. This is what He means.
Let’s not focus on whether Judas was forgiven in the end. Let’s not be distracted by questions we will ask Father when we are able to know as He knows us. Let’s ask questions of ourselves today that produce in us a harvest of grateful praise to God: How am I like Judas, expecting something from God, disappointed with the Answer He has sent. How am I like Jesus to others? Am I forgiving toward those who resent the light? Is the light in me exposing darkness around me in others?
Some will draw close to God, fall at His feet and worship. Some will hate and abandon both Him and us. Glory to God in the Highest! May His peace come on earth.