Jesus specifically chose Judas to be one of his twelve closest disciples, knowing he would eventually betray him. I know Judas was fulfilling God’s plan and it was crucial to our salvation that he betray Jesus, but I can never seem to distance myself from the things Judas did.
The Gospel of John gives the most attention to Judas at the Last Supper. While Jesus was washing the disciples feet, he makes a little comment about one of them being unclean. They sit down to dinner, and Jesus makes several statements that one of them is going to betray him and all the disciples start panicking in their minds and asking him aloud, “Who is it?” So Jesus says, “It’s the person I’m about to give some bread to,” and he dips the bread into the bowl and hands it to Judas.
Firstly, I just want to say I’ve always thought this whole scene was one of the most awkward in Scripture. What would the rest of the disciples say after that exchange? “I’ll have another glass of wine, please”? “No thanks, I don’t need any more bread”? How uncomfortable.
The Gospel of Luke implies a subsequent conversation about which of the disciples was the greatest. At first glance, I thought it was a weird time and place for that conversation. But the more I meditated on it, the more it made sense. Perhaps the disciples saw Judas’ acknowledgement of betrayal and grew proud and self-righteous. Maybe Peter patted himself on the back and said, “I would never have done that to Jesus. I’m the greatest disciple he has.” Maybe John said, “Well, look at all the miracles I was able to perform.” Or Andrew said, “Wasn’t I the first chosen?” Maybe this was the reason Jesus said, “Don’t kid yourself Peter, you’ll be the first to deny me tonight, and you’ll do it over and over again.”
So there I am, all over that. I see someone else stumble, fail, or falter, and my first reaction? Pat myself on the back and say, “Good thing I have a daily quiet time with God.” Or “Thank God he already called me to walk in the light so I’m not wandering out there in the darkness like those people.” And Jesus looks right at me and says, “Don’t kid yourself Rebecca, you’ll deny me today and tomorrow and over and over.”
Secondly, after Jesus hands Judas the bread and Judas eats it, the Bible says it’s at that point Satan entered into Judas. So Jesus tells Judas, “Hurry and do what you’re going to do.” What if, every time we’re about to disobey Christ, he came right to us and said, “I know what you’re about to do. Just hurry up and get it over with”?
Crap, again. Would I still sin? Would my conviction be greater? If a brother or sister in Christ brings something to my attention, some way I’ve been disobedient to Christ, it cuts me deeply with conviction. How much more incredible would that pain be if Jesus himself was standing before me, staring into my eyes, and telling me he knew what I was about to do, he didn’t like it, and just to hurry up and do it? I go back and forth on it, thinking if he was there, right there, there’s no way I could outright disobey him, and then realizing I do that very thing every single day. I’m like the worst parts of Judas and the other disciples rolled into one.
The irony of all of this, of course, is if it weren’t for Judas’ betrayal, I wouldn’t be cleansed of these redundant sins. I wouldn’t be righteous enough to enter God’s presence. The Biblical character I see so much of myself in is the same Biblical character whose terrible actions have opened the door for salvation for every one of us. Praise God that he will always use us to bring about his glory, whether it’s a result of our obedience or our disobedience. And praise God that he loved us enough to orchestrate all of this so we get to spend forever with him in heaven.