“So after recieving the morsal of bread, [Judas] immediately went out. And it was night.” John 13:30
“Then Judas Isacriot, who was one of the twelve, went to the chief priests in order to betray [Jesus] to them. And when they heard it, they were glad and promised to give him some money…” Mark 14:10-11
“Rise, let us be going; see, my betrayer is at hand.” Matthew 26:46
“Judas, would you betray the Son of Man with a kiss?” Luke 22:48
“And throwing down the pieces of silver into the temple, he departed, and went and hanged himself.” Matthew 27:5
The name ‘Judas’ is now more than a name. It is synonymous in many cultures with a term of insult, the lowest form of slander, the highest charge of wrong-doing. It is not a name we choose for our children, nor our dogs. We don’t like Judas.
But Judas isn’t the only one who betrayed Jesus. As has been the charge down the centuries! No. Judas is like Adam, a figure-head for the human race, a type. He is all of us, the whole human race. We are Judas and we betrayed Jesus. Freudian projection won’t save us, we did it and we know it. Richard Matcham betrayed Jesus. And I’m not alone. For the betrayer operates “at night”, the place of darkness and shadows, in secret and with whispers.
Not only am I, are we, all Judas, but he lives today, despite the text saying that he hanged himself, and/or his guts burst open in a violent outpouring of shame and pain. Inasmuch as our “inner Adam” lives, an Adam that must be daily crucified and left in the tomb of baptism, so must our inner Judas be slain. Again and again, because he lives!
He lives in misplaced desire, in zeal for a worldview opposed to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
He lives in hard hearts masquerading as careful stewards of the gifts of God.
He lives in compassionless giving, cynical serving and an all too swift readiness to step out of the Light and into the darkness.
He lives in the greed of nations and individuals.
He lives in the blindness of the rich, the desperation of the poor and the indifference of the ‘middle-ones’ who personify lukewarmness.
He lives in sanctimonious giving, ignorant non-giving and mean-spirited ‘peanuts giving’.
Judas is everywhere and he’s not afraid to squeel on the Saviour or to kiss the King. He is a zealot bursting with political ideology; he is a coward trying to force God’s own hand; he is a thief greedy for gain; and he heard Jesus himself preach and proclaim the Gospel, and still his own inner ideological monologue was too strong to let the Gospel do its transforming work!
If the diciples contained a betrayer among them, we can be sure that every church in every age will have them too. These people among us, like us, reflections of us, us…are hearing the generous Word of the Gospel, they are participating in church life, some even hold the purse strings, just like the original Judas!
They are the quiet aggitated ones among us who wait for moments of darkness. They are the ones who walk and talk with us, week by week, feigning a closer walk with Jesus, all the while plotting and scheming their ideological horror show, replaying it over and over again. Waiting for the right time to strike. Letting anger build and resentment grow like a weed of misery in a heart that’s already dead.
“But the perfume she poured over Jesus – do you know how much it is worth?”
To all my fellow Judas’s out there, “Do you know how much Jesus is worth?”
More than a pot of expensive perfume; certainly more than a slaves value of thirty pieces of silver. But Judas ‘The Good Steward’ Isacriot couldn’t help it. He had listened to the Gospel without hearing it, and he had witnessed Jesus’ miracles without seeing them. Judas was blind and deaf, and if he was blind and deaf, we are too.
So when we come to Scripture and read about Judas, we are reading about The Human Race, ourselves. He is us, and we are him. He isn’t especially bad or evil, we all are. He isn’t genetically different or derainged, we can’t pass the buck so cheaply. Yes it was foretold, but the Cross was in the heart of God before the foundation of the world. So was Judas, and so were we. Scripture had to be and must be and will be fulfilled, yet God chose Judas when he could have so easily chosen me!
But Christ! Ah, the contrast, the Name, the rescue, the salvation, the hope. But Christ had to go to the Cross. And he did. For me and you, and Judas too!
I’m not putting my eggs into my basket, or the church basket, or any other basket except the Christ basket.
“Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways.”
“For God has consigned all to disobedience, that he may have mercy on all.” (Romans 11:33, 32)
The amazing Caravaggio ‘The Taking of Christ’ 1602
(Caravaggio is the figure on the far right. He saw himself there in the band that betrays Jesus, and experts suggest that the shiny armour of the arresting officer is meant to serve as a mirror.)
What I find interesting about the pot of hard story was how much “common sense” Judas was talking. I read his comments and they aren’t especially controversial at all. It was a massive waste of money and an obscene gesture of extravagance. What sort of maniac does that?! He might even genuinely had a concern for the poor, which is the most disturbing aspect of it, because it shows how even our most deeply felt convictions about serving and ministering can stand in the way of the gospel. It reveals the gospel to be something that takes our ideas of the good (usually identified as proportion, fairness and sobriety) and overturns it completely. The excessiveness of the gospel is not just an affront to our ideas of the good, but actually quite traumatic in a way that makes the contemporary orgy of capitalist consumerism in the west seem quite restrained. Our problem isn’t that we desire too much, but that we desire (and are satisfied) by too little.