The group of best friends is sitting at a long table, chatting, laughing, celebrating. It’s a holiday and they’re all here, together.
This is supposed to be a party. It’s festive out. They’re celebrating the Passover, when God delivered their people from slavery. It’s supposed to be joyous.
But Jesus, the one they’re all following, can’t quite bring himself to laugh. He knows what’s coming. He knows what tomorrow will bring.
And, what’s more, he knows who will bring it. A friend. A disciple. One of his brothers, sitting with him at the banquet table.
Jesus replied, ‘The one who has dipped his hand into the bowl with me will betray me. The Son of Man will go just as it is written about him. But woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man! It would be better for him if he had not been born.’
* * *
Judas is amazing. Not in a good way.
How could someone who knew and followed Jesus, who had dedicated the last three years of his life to him, betray him?
How could one of Jesus’ chosen twelve turn around and hand him over to his murderers?
How could a man who had preached good words, seen miracles, probably performed miracles, how could this man trade all that for a little extra cash?
This is history’s ultimate treachery. This is the pinnacle of betrayal.
Maybe you hate Judas.
Maybe you shouldn’t.
Then Judas, the one who would betray him, said, ‘Surely you don’t mean me, Rabbi?’ Jesus answered, ‘You have said so.’
* * *
Maybe Judas was tired of all the wandering to and fro. Maybe he felt judged by the man he followed; he seemed so righteous, so perfect. Maybe he felt inadequate and just needed to escape.
Maybe he had begun to doubt. Maybe he thought he could do better elsewhere. Maybe he thought he needed the money. Maybe he wanted to be famous, the man who brought down the Rabbi from Galilee.
Pride, anger, greed, resentment, fear, exhaustion, confusion.
Sinful desires, an evil thought, a selfish motivation took hold of Judas. “Satan entered into him.” And still he sat at the table during the Festival of Unleavened Bread, accused, eating and drinking. Did he stay until they sang a hymn?
It’s unbelievable that this man, handpicked by God incarnate, could stab the Savior of the world in the back.
But you know what’s just as unbelievable?
The fact that we do the same thing.
The fact that we eat at the table of the Lord and, in the next moment, bend the thorns into place.
The fact that we pledge ourselves to Jesus with words and then deny him with deeds.
That’s right; we all betray Jesus day after day and year after year.
Jesus said, “You will betray me,” and “You will deny me.” We say, “Never, Lord!” But do we mean it?
Maybe Judas is unique because he handed Jesus over to be crucified. And yet, our sins in the present contributed to the crucifixion in the past.
‘He himself bore our sins’ in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; ‘by his wounds you have been healed.’
* * *
Some call Judas the worst of sinners. Paul calls himself the worst. We might put ourselves in the running.
But the beautiful thing is that Jesus died for us despite our betrayal.
He rose again on the third day, overcoming the death he died on our behalf.
That means we are justified, even though we have been traitors. We are redeemed, even though we resisted. We are called to repent of our treachery. To throw back our 30 pieces of silver and claim instead the Man of far greater worth.
So take the opportunity to do right, to be loyal. Take this shot to really live in the Light, and let the Light live in you. Easter is the New Years of the soul. Today everything is different. Today we are a new creation.