The problem of Judas

He spent 3 years with Jesus.

He saw miracles and heard Jesus preach with authority.

He had unlimited access to God.

And Judas didn’t believe. Not only did Judas not believe, he betrayed Jesus to be arrested, tried and crucified.

How did this happen?!

There is a lot of speculation on this subject. I want to hit on 3 things:

1. Jesus wasn’t who Judas wanted Him to be.

Judas likely followed Jesus because he thought it would lead to a revolution, to seizure of power, and eventually to status and power.

Yet, the farther along in Jesus’ ministry they went, the message was more and more direct that Jesus had come to serve, to suffer, and to die for the people.

This likely wasn’t what Judas signed up for, and – in fairness – he wasn’t the only disciple who didn’t like the ideas. James and John used to jockey for position, and Peter rebuked Jesus when he heard about the plan…and those three were the inner circle!

Some even speculate that the betrayal was Judas’ way of trying to force Jesus’ hand.

It’s a good note of caution for the times we try to make God fit our image, rather than trying to reflect His image.

2. Judas left the door open for Satan.

First, let me clarify. Satan entered Judas as he left the upper room the night he betrayed Jesus.

This is important: Satan cannot inhabit believers. Believers are already inhabited by God Himself. There is not room for both. Sure, Satan can tempt us and assault us – that’s all from the outside. Only God gets to live in a believer.

So, three years in, and Judas didn’t believe. Not only that, but he was hiding something else. Judas was the unofficial treasurer of the group; he held the money bags. And let’s just say he wouldn’t have passed an audit. No surprise, then, that 30 pieces of silver contributed to Judas’ downfall. Satan looks for a foothold and wedges his way in.

3. Judas didn’t grasp the power of repentance and the joy of forgiveness.

Judas’ story did not have to end the way it did. In fact, this is one of the saddest stories in the Bible. Judas had literally looked Hope in the eyes, and still he followed a path that led to despair and, ultimately, suicide.

Judas was not the only disciple who failed Jesus, but the others followed a path of repentance, faith and restoration. Judas could have followed that path, too, but even though he followed Him for 3 years, he somehow still didn’t know The Way.

There are lessons here.

Lessons about truly following Jesus. Lessons about the dangers of secret and unrepented sin. Lessons about despair and the power of hope in Jesus.

Nobody wants to be Judas, so hopefully we can at least learn from him.

(Lent 18/40)

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