Then Judas Iscariot, one of the Twelve, went to the chief priests to betray Jesus to them. They were delighted to hear this and promised to give him money. So he watched for an opportunity to hand him over. Mark 14, verses 10-11.
Just after witnessing the woman anoint Jesus, Judas went to the Jewish priests and betrayed Jesus. Maybe he was PO’d that Jesus had encouraged the huge ‘waste of money’ that came with dumping the priceless nard over Jesus’ head. Maybe he had had enough of all the pussy-footing goody goody do-good nature of Jesus and His “love everybody” message. Maybe Judas had a bad day.
In reality, he had a really bad day. One of the other Gospels refers to the betrayal by saying “then Satan entered” Judas. The day Satan enters you is the worst in your life because only terrible things flow from that. To be honest, I think Satan entered all of us years ago, as babies. Ever heard a two-year old say “no?” Yep: sin. They learned it somewhere, and they applied it because Satan had already taken up residence.
A bad day for Judas, indeed, when you betray the Son of Man for a sack of coins.
But do you want to know a secret? I’ve always felt sorry for Judas; Pontius Pilate, too. My sorrow for them is (obviously) tempered by my after-the-fact knowledge they didn’t have. I know Jesus was resurrected. I know He is the Son of God. I know the history of the faith and what it means to have His Spirit working in my life. Judas Iscariot and Pontius Pilate had to experience events in real time. What we read as history are events through which they lived as they were happening. They didn’t have Bible concordances and two thousand years of interpretive Christian perspective. We can look down on their terrible choices and we should, yet don’t lose sight of knowing that they made those bad choices without applying any fore-knowledge of just who Christ said He was. They lived through it; we didn’t.
I feel sorry for Judas because he became even more destitute and pathetic than he was before. I’m betting he was the smartest of the disciples, that he had canny sense and was both analytic and street-wise. He made a choice to cast his lot (pun intended) with those who sought to kill Jesus. He knew what the priests had in mind, and he knew that his action was risky. Perhaps he calculated that he would somehow benefit from this choice, from this betrayal. Otherwise why do it? Don’t forget that Satan had entered into Judas, though. With Satan indwelt, all bets would be off.
Yet I feel sorry for Judas because that choice brought him only misery, death and (I assume) damnation. Jesus loved Judas. Let that sink in. Jesus Christ loved Judas Iscariot. Jesus didn’t want Judas to be further deceived by the great deceiver. Jesus wanted Judas to live a life in praise of Him, sharing His Spirit with Judas so Judas could share it with others. Jesus died on the cross for the sins of Judas Iscariot just like He did for yours, mine, and Adolf Hitler’s. And Judas betrayed Him anyway. By Good Friday afternoon, when Jesus died, Judas had already hanged himself. I feel sorry for him, that the consequences of his choices were so dire and awful.
Lord, forgive all who sin, who betray You with our sins, who let You down. Forgive and rebuild us, Savior Jesus.
Read Mark 14, verses 12-26.