So in the spirit of Easter and the resurrection I have decided to reread the accounts of the last supper-resurrection in all four gospels. Not a bad or hard thing to do I’ve probably read it at least ten times and heard sermons and lessons on it a million times but isn’t it funny that when you read scripture things you never noticed just pop out (maybe that’s why they call it the living word which always makes me picture a breathing some what scary looking book). I’ve started in Mark (because most scholars believe this was the first gospel to be written) and read chapter 14 I’m cruising through trying to stay focused and imagine what is smelled like, looked like, sounded like etc when “bam!” verse 44 hits me like a ton of bricks “Now His betrayer had given them a signal, saying, ‘Whomever I kiss, He is the One; seize Him and lead Him away safely.'” (emphasis) mine. Now maybe you’ve always known this and it doesn’t give you pause but that one little word “safely” really struck me and forced me to think “who was Judas anyway?” I’ve always pictured him as the dark angry looking fellow from Davinci’s Last Supper painting. In my mind he’s bitter towards Jesus about something, stealing from the coffers (he was in charge of the finances and he did skim off the top see John 12:6) and I honestly don’t know why he’s still tagging along with the disciples. But why then did he care if Jesus were safe? He didn’t want Jesus hurt for some reason and that makes me think there was more there then just pure hatred there.
Maybe he thought he could move things along. You know put Jesus in a position where he would have to take over as an earthly king, over throw Rome and they could all start participating in this new and better-than-David’s Israel. And maybe he was thinking that and clearly not understanding that Jesus’ kingdom is a spiritual kingdom was a little miffed when Mary poured all that oil out on Jesus feet and Jesus scolded him for scolding her; maybe that little reprimand along with his love of money pushed him over the edge and he decided to get things moving his way. Maybe he’s thinking God won’t care that he “betrayes” Jesus because it’s the ends that justify the means right? (I’m saying this could be what’s going on in his mind not that it’s what actually was or that it’s correct thinking; a professor once told me your not suppose to analyze dead people but I can’t help it).
So if your still tracking with me and you can imagine that this might be what was happening it sort of makes you feel bad for him doesn’t it? I mean how many of us have totally missed the mark of what God was trying to get us to do or totally jumped in front of him while he was leading only to swerve way way off course. It makes you realize that the ends don’t justify the means no matter what your government or peers tell you, integrity always matters (you could also ask Dr. Baltar from Battle Star Galactica that but he’s not real and I know I’m obsessed.) And that we have to be so so careful that we are truly searching for God’s will and that we’re willing to wait. We so often get into trouble because God tells us something but we’re not willing to wait for His timing and then we get in there and try to push things along which never works. The ironic thing about Judas is that by trying to do things his way he actually was playing an instrumental role in God’s real plan, that Jesus had to die and rise again, it’s nice to know we can’t thwart God’s ultimate goal but we sure can make a mess of things for ourselves and those around us (that’s free will for you). And if I now have you thinking maybe Judas didn’t have a choice he was predestined to do all of this, well, I don’t think so, we always have a choice. Really the priests and rulers would have found a way they didn’t ultimately need one of his disciples in order to arrest him, it just made it a bit more convenient for them.
The saddest thing about Judas is that when he realizes what he’s done he kills himself. That’s it game over but there is another disciple that betrays Jesus with a different outcome, Peter denies him (and not just a “who are you talking about” deny but he swears and oath that he doesn’t know who Jesus is) and is forgiven and becomes one of the founding fathers of the church. It’s never too late for us no matter what we’ve done, thought, or ruined there is forgiveness and redemption for us that is the entire reason that Jesus did die so that we could come back to him; even after the worst betrayal we are welcomed back into the family of God. Let’s be careful of what we say and do “in the name of Jesus” but let’s also be forgiving of those who do and say things in His name that shouldn’t be; we’ve all been there.