If you grow up in church, you are taught from the time you can walk that there are two main villains in the Bible.
Satan is, of course, number 1 with a bullet.
Not far after him is Judas. After all, something about betraying the Son of God gets you a pretty bad rep.
In my experience, Judas was presented as this one dimensional guy who’s far separated from us today. For this reason, it always felt to me like Judas was more like a fictional character.
However, lately, I have come to a simple, yet scary, conclusion: Judas gets me.
I would love it if I were like another disciple. Given me John, the disciple Jesus loved. I’d love to be like Andrew, known for bringing others to hang out with Jesus.
Heck, I’d even take Thomas, who doubted the whole way through, yet still turned out okay.
Yet, I think that Judas was the one after my own heart because we are quite similar in our flaws, particularly in the following three areas.
1. He traded Jesus in.
From the time I heard this story, I was honestly really judgmental about Judas’ actions. Not until recently did I start seeing it in applicable ways.
Judas sold Jesus out for 30 pieces of silver. He traded Him over by going to religious leaders, hand outstretched, asking, “What are you willing to give me if I deliver Him to you?”
We do the same. Often unaware of it, we pose this question: “What can I get in return if I turn my back on Jesus?”
30 pieces of silver could look like…
All are great things until they become ultimate things.
When they rule your heart, it becomes easy to sell Jesus out for them.
Allow me to illustrate.
My weak point? My thirty pieces of silver? Approval.
I am a people-pleaser. I love praise. I thrive on being well-liked.
I imagine myself, going before society, and saying, “What are you willing to give me if I turn my back on Jesus?”
In turn, society responds, “People will like you more if you come off this way. People will not be offended if you silence your convictions, both in action and word.”
So, what do I do? I turn my Jesus over.
I leave him in the dust by agreeing with verbally or silently in order to stay in good graces of others.
2. Judas approached Jesus with a detachment.
John 18:3 reads something like this: “Then Judas, having received a detachment of troops, and officers from the chief priests and Pharisees, came there with lanterns, torches, and weapons.”
When I betray Jesus, I become detached.
I have to put some distance between me and JC. I have to have a bit of indifference toward him because, otherwise, how can I really trade Him in? In my shame, I can’t look Him in the eyes.
This “detachment” is also significant in its intended use.
When coming to betray Jesus, Judas hides some troops. Now, I get this because I come heavily armed to trade in Jesus, too. We kind of have the same battle plan, only my defense is not physical.
In place of soldiers, I have excuses.
In place of weapons, my troops carry lies that I tell myself.
The chains my excuses place on Jesus are my justifications for turning my back on Jesus.
My detachment protects me as I look down at my shoes in shame, unable to look into the eyes of my redeemer.
3. Judas realized the faultiness of what he gained in the trade off.
In Matthew 27, we see Judas trying to give the money back, money he realizes he got in place of “innocent blood.” The Pharisees? They’re not having it.
“What is that to us?” they ask.
Judas, like me, realizes he has made a mistake.
See, Judas traded Jesus in for a meal of candy.
Imagine for dinner you eat nothing but candy. You’ve got the Snickers Souffle, Sour Patch Kids Salad, Zero Bars Burgers, Robin Eggs (sunny side up, of course), and Cadberry Creme Eggs to wash it all down with.
Now, me personally, I’m a big fan of candy, so that sounds great to me in theory.
In reality, after consuming this, gastrointestinal fireworks would ensue. Why?
Because the candy, while it is enticing, is not a meal.
It’s nice every once in a while, but there is no nutritional value there. There is no substance.
It is a lot like the 30 pieces of silver.
Right after eating the candy, I would probably come to the conclusion that this was a very bad idea. This is exactly what Judas does. The Pharisees look a lot like this:
Judas put all of his faith, all of his trust in money, in the Pharisees, and they betray him in the end.
Bringing it back to my life, I get it.
People are so fickle, society so undependable, that I find in the last minute that others’ approval is sweet, yet so short.
Approval makes a crummy god.
In essence, the things we chase after, things we make ultimate in our lives, are candy: they have no substance.
- Money is lost
- Careers go up in flames
- Relationships end
- Friendships crumble
- Family gets complicated
You can build your life around these things, and in the end, if you do, you will at some point see these sources pointing and giggling at your stupidity.
If you know the age-old story, you are aware that Judas committed suicide. I don’t know what he had in his heart, but I know that, in the midst of loss and letdown, the shame we feel causes a certain death in us.
We see the throne we have bowed our lives to go up in smoke, and we see the death of a dream.
That kind of loss results in hopelessness.
Even as a Christian, when I know I have hope beyond this world, it’s hard to reconcile these losses.
However, the similarities between me and Judas end here because my eyes move from inward to outward as my insufficiencies cause me to gaze upon the glory of Christ.
My running causes me to see that I mess up everything I touch.
My running causes me to see the substance of Christ.
My running away is like a rubber band that snaps me back to Jesus.
This same rubber band is what Judas cut and used to hang himself with.
He chose to focus on guilt and shame and reveals himself to disbelieve in Jesus as the source of forgiveness. He instead deems his situation as irreparable, hopeless, and ends his life.
I think I was born with a heart like Judas, yet because of Jesus, my story gets to end a lot differently.