Posts Tagged ‘Judas’

It’s Holy Week and devotions abound as believers recount and remember the passion story. Despite what our culture promotes, bunnies and colorful eggs, this is our high holiday, the most important part of the Christ story. Without Good Friday and Easter, the Christmas story is meaningless. But what stands out today?

I was caught off guard by these two verses (John 13:18 & 21): “I am not referring to all of you; I know those I have chosen. But this is to fulfill this passage of Scripture: ‘He who shared my bread has turned against me [from Psalm 41:9].’” . . . After he had said this, Jesus was troubled in spirit and testified, “Very truly I tell you, one of you is going to betray me.”

Jesus knew. But here’s the point: they all knew. He told his disciples plainly. It’s not like the truth was hidden inside a parable or a mystery. Scripture goes on to say they didn’t understand, but ultimately, I believe they simply chose not to draw a conclusion. They didn’t want to know.

We see this all the time even today. The narcissist says, “are you gonna believe me or your lyin’ eyes?” The perpetrator says, “I couldn’t help it, my childhood was bad.” The victim says, “I thought he would change.” The voter says, “He’s just exaggerating, he doesn’t really mean it that way.” The cheater says, “It was just that one time.” Lots of excuses for not knowing or not seeing or not believing.

The worshiper cries out in song, “Open my eyes, I want to see Jesus,” even though God is actually present already, all around. The prayerful one asks for guidance, instruction, and counsel while God is speaking all the while within. We are not listening. We are not looking. We are not believing what is already there.

Jesus was betrayed by more than just Judas Iscariot. He was betrayed by all of the disciples by one degree or another. Even the beloved John could have acted at the disclosure Jesus gave him. Maybe he tried to stand up to stop Judas and Jesus stayed his hand. Maybe. After all, the ultimate betrayal had to happen one way or another.

And then there’s the rest of us, who waved our palm branches as Jesus entered the city only to cry out “crucify him” a few days later. Not you? Then tell me you have not required grace for the lie you told yesterday or the company copier you used for your tax forms or the joke you made about the lady in WalMart. We know. And we betray.

Each day has challenges and just like Peter, we will commit many misdeeds before the rooster crows even once. Betrayers abound, see them for who they are and forgive, respond righteously, and move on. And why must we forgive? Because we have done no less.

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Photo by IrmBrown

Photo by IrmBrown

God is Spirit and Light and Energy and Good and more. So, how are we to imitate that kind of existence? No one can see God, nor really, feel God or smell God or taste God and despite all the talk, we don’t really hear God either, not literally. Just like we cannot see Light, we see its reflection; so we experience God.

So imitate God. Follow Him like adored children,and live in love as the Anointed One loved you—so much that He gave Himself as a fragrant sacrifice, pleasing God. [Ephesians 5:1-2, The Voice translation]

Over the centuries of the revelation of the One God, there came a moment in time when Christ [Messiah] appeared,  transmuted as a human for our sakes. Besides the need to reconcile human beings to the original covenant, this block of time was an opportunity to have many three-dimensional adventures. But, like everything else in “time,” this was a brief interlude. Now, all we have are Story and Spirit with which to interact, to learn what it means to mirror God and reflect God to the world around us.

The Bible, a compendium of poetry, history, letters, reflections, worship, and imagery, is that Story.  Scriptures talk about the 3-D stuff, the behaviors and thoughts that can help us experience what it means to walk in God, permeated by the Holy Spirit.

To “live in love” is the bottom line of imitating God. And anything else, is a betrayal. It is Judas we become if we know God within, but behave differently.

How can I change? How can I be this reflection successfully? I want to but I grow weary and unsure of myself. I hesitate. I don’t go “all in.” I am not alone, I know. And so, Paul reiterates the call to imitate God and Christ, by imitating him [I Corinthians 11:1]. Paul is not available to me either, but there are other Godly ones among us, even today. When I need a 3-D connection, then I look to that person today whose likeness mimics a soul on fire, a spirit in union with Jesus, a heart beating for God.


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Mary and Jesus FeetThen Mary took about a pintof pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. But one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray him, objected, “Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages.” [John 12:3-5]

I just got the real picture of Mary and the nard (spikenard oil) and Jesus’s feet. In the past, while reading this passage and other similar ones about a woman who washed or anointed Jesus and then used her hair afterwards, I imagined her holding her long strands of hair to wipe like a cloth. But now I see differently. It’s more like nuzzling. I wish I could explain more clearly what I see in my head, this women kissing, embracing, stroking and pressing her head to Jesus’s feet (or head or hands or mantel); holding him close to her face, her lips, her hair. I think about my own ways of  holding close my kids or my pets. I put them right up to my face and hair, cheek to cheek, head to head. It’s intimate, it’s loving, it’s tender.

Essentially, I don’t believe this act was about washing or cleansing. Instead, it was purely a demonstrative act of love. And I suppose it could be called a humble act but love, but then, in its purest form, isn’t love humble anyway. At least it should be.

Judas’s response is more dramatic in hindsight. After all, we know now, he was the betrayer. But, in that moment, his reaction told a different story: he revealed his inability to recognize love. Following Jesus was never about love, it was about freedom. He must have been a “reasoning” man: perhaps even calculating. His passion was the overthrow of the Romans, the victory of the long-awaited Messiah who would bring Israel back to its former glory. For him, Mary’s act was, at best, sentimental and certainly a waste of resources. He was pragmatic and eventually (sooner than later), this led him to choose unwisely, to “move things along,” to force Jesus’s hand (without knowing what that would really look like). Judas did not expect his rabbi to be crucified. Instead, he expected an uprising of great proportions, a revolution. But he never understood the real revolution was in the heart.

Mary’s heart was already set free. She loved Jesus with abandon.

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John 13:21
After he had said this, Jesus was troubled in spirit and testified, “I tell you the truth, one of you is going to betray me.”

And Judas didn’t bat an eye. He saw the whole thing differently than everyone else. In his mind, it wasn’t betrayal. He was helping move things along. He thought he had the “big picture.” He thought the stars were aligned and Jesus needed to step up his game.

Can you imagine, with this mindset, what he must have thought when Jesus turned to him at table and said, “What you are about to do, do quickly.” [vs 27b] He probably viewed that as the “go-ahead.” Jesus was going to take the challenge and show everyone. He would reveal himself. He would become their king. He would overthrow the Romans. On and on his mind would have clamored.

Haven’t we all, at some point or another, justified our own actions in the same way? We convince ourselves that our choices are the right choices for the moment. From adultery to lying to theft and more, our reasoning allows it. In reality every sin is a type of betrayal against the other. If we commit adultery, we betray a spouse; if we lie, we betray the trust of the person receiving that lie; if we steal, we betray the owner… and so on.

Confronting the truth of betrayal means confronting ourselves and our motives. Betrayal is all about “me.” Judas ran from his betrayal and killed himself. This may have been his greatest sin of all. A betrayer can be redeemed but only with confession.

I have betrayed and it grieves my spirit today. I call on the love and grace of Christ Jesus to wash me in forgiveness. My only hope.

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Luke 22:48
… but Jesus asked him, “Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?”

Jesus often taught by asking questions, similar to Socrates. In this case, as a crowd came to the Mt. of Olives to arrest him, Jesus asked Judas to “see” himself, much like in a mirror.

More times than I would like to confess, I catch myself charging along with an idea and while caught up in the midst of it, I lose sight of myself and I lose sight of the big picture. What I really need is someone who can gently hold up a mirror to me. In some cases, I have been fortunate and a friend or a colleague at work have taken on the challenge. But more often, I am too “busy” to look. And so, it is only Jesus who can step in and reveal my truth. Sometimes, these revelations are painful. Sometimes, the damage has been done and all I can do is confess, ask forgiveness and move on. Sometimes, there is still time to step back, regroup, and correct my course.

The first time I married, I was only 18, but I thought I knew everything! I wanted to be out from under my mother’s authority. I wanted to do what I wanted to do. There was no stopping those plans. My mirror did not rise up until I was walking down the aisle. And then I saw with complete clarity that I was making a huge mistake. It was not because the man was unkind or unloving or unworthy. It was because of me and my motives. Like Judas, really, I betrayed my first husband by continuing to walk down that aisle. I did not have the courage to stop and turn around (to be a “runaway bride’). Of course, I didn’t know anything about the way of Jesus back then either.

Jesus, be my mirror today. Show me my motives before I act thoughtlessly. Guard my tongue.

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Satan Entered Judas

Luke 22:3-4
Then Satan entered Judas, called Iscariot, one of the Twelve. And Judas went to the chief priests and the officers of the temple guard and discussed with them how he might betray Jesus.

How does it happen this “entering” of Satan? I don’t believe a person is just fine one day and like a virus or bacteria, he or she picks up Satan off of a doorknob. And yet, in the same way that Jesus spoke of the fertile soil that is needed to nurture the seed of the gospel, there is also fertile ground for Satan.

Satan is not a person but an entity who is a ruler of that other plane (For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Ephesians 6:12) And so, we are dealing with the matters of the heart, soul, and mind.

Galatians 5:19-21 gives us a pretty good list of Satan’s fertile soil: …sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. So often, as we read through this list, we feel smugly safe, thinking how we haven’t participated in any orgies or witchcraft lately. But, we gloss over the other plants that may have found root in our inner garden: discord, jealousy, envy, idolatry… we have ALL experienced these to one degree or another.

Who knows what drove Judas? Some have said greed, but I don’t think so. I believe he had his own idea of how things should go. He disagreed with Jesus’ plan. And so he put his own plan into motion and Satan nurtured and watered that notion. And then the idea became an action and eventually had a life of its own that ultimately played itself out on the cross.

Each day, we must choose to pull weeds from our inner garden or they will grow and grow and soon, very soon, they take over.. It is much easier to pull them out when they are small… of course, if we take this gardening metaphor even further … it takes some knowledge to know which plants are which, what is a weed and what is not because, when they are very small, we don’t always recognize them.

So, we must be diligent, we must be knowledgeable and ask for help from the Master Gardener.

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Matthew 26:74-75
Then he began to call down curses on himself and he swore to them, “I don’t know the man!”
Immediately a rooster crowed. Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken: “Before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.” And he went outside and wept bitterly.

In Matthew’s version of this story, Peter is confronted with the truth of himself and weeps; a few lines later, Judas confronts himself and commits suicide. Both men felt remorse. Both were overwhelmed by their actions but only one survives. Peter is not mentioned again individually by Matthew, except as within the group of eleven disciples who return to Galilee to see Jesus ascend. But in Luke’s gospel, we see Peter among the gathered disciples and then he rushes to the empty tomb to see it for himself.

Here’s my point: Peter wept when he saw himself in stark reality. Both Luke and Matthew say he wept bitterly which implies how difficult it was for him to accept the truth. But Peter’s response, his next step, was to return to community instead of isolating himself.

When we see the truth of ourselves, our first tendency is to hide and go it alone. But that is not the best way. Isolation is just the beginning of a downward spiral into depression and hopelessness. Nothing we have done or said is beyond surrender to God. Forgiveness is made real by sharing that painful confession with other believers. It is the body of Christ that puts hands and feet on forgiveness and renewal.

I am working my way back into community, into koinonia. Will there be open arms?

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