I bet you think you are more like Jesus and less like Judas Iscariot, right?
Judas Iscariot witnessed Jesus escape near death on several occasions (Luke 4:30; John 8:59; 10:39). Judas knew if anyone could escape death at the hands of men, it was Jesus! Judas also knew that Jesus could obtain money from the mouths of fish, create profitable fishing conditions, and stop the force of life threatening storms. Judas knew that even the winds obeyed Jesus. If anyone could survive danger, it was Jesus!
Judas also had the sweet gig of being the treasurer for Jesus and His band of merry men. While this was a great responsibility for ministry, Judas used the position to fatten his own pocket. For Judas, following Jesus was a win/win. Seriously, what big sacrifice did Judas have to make? Not only did he have money, but Jesus could provide food for them all out of thin air. Career advice for Judas: stick with Jesus!
That is, stick with Jesus until Jesus got in the way. Sadly, that is the reality Judas faced when the brakes were abruptly halted to Judas’s financial scheming. In the name of helping the poor Judas took in all the money he could muster. Jesus interfered with his plans when he allowed a woman to use very, very expensive ointment to anoint His feet rather than have it sold for money to “give to the poor”. Jesus kept Judas from having a very profitable day.
Was this how things were going to be more often? Was the gravy train following Jesus coming to an end? Once it was pretty smooth following Jesus. It was safe and profitable. Now, it just might turn a little less profitable and a lot more selfless. Is that the life Judas wanted to live “following Jesus”? On top of that, there was an opportunity to turn over Jesus to the Pharisees that would provide some money. Maybe it would make up a little for what he lost? Besides, Jesus always escaped when He wanted to. Jesus could easily get away from His captors while Judas kept his silver.
Not too shabby of a plan…until Jesus did not escape.
This time, Jesus surrendered. Judas would have his money, but he would also see the Man that had cared for Him most be killed because of his betrayal. No one had ever loved Judas like Jesus did. No one ever put up with all the lying, thieving crap that Judas pulled like Jesus did. Regardless of his wicked schemes, Jesus still loved Jesus. At the end of the day, Judas repaid Jesus with the pathway to death. His schemes didn’t hurt anyone too badly until now.
Now, Judas’s double life cost the life of the greatest man he ever knew. He couldn’t clean up the mess this time. Jesus was gone because Judas threw away the greatest Gift he ever knew.
What a stupid, ignorant, foolish scheme! Why didn’t Jesus escape this time? He should have easily gotten away! How could Jesus let Himself be arrested like that??? This was not how the plan was supposed to play out!
But, it did. Loyalty to someone, or something, other than Jesus did not pay off quite like Judas planned. Maybe for a long time Judas thought divided allegiance worked our pretty well, but that deception did not last forever. When it did, the train crashed in a big way. The horror of it all drove Judas to do the unthinkable by throwing away the very gift of life God had bestowed on Him.
Judas betrayed The Life, and threw away his own life in the process.
Is it possible we do the same thing? Do we find a comfortable way to “follow Jesus” while also following the ways of the flesh? Does divided loyalty to Jesus provide a pretty cozy safety net in our lives for now? Do we gamble with grace thinking our life is going to be A-Okay? Since Jesus has us in the palm of His hand, do we toss our lives away playing in the playground of darkness?
When our hearts are being buried with darkness we don’t always have the vision and faith to see the life of Jesus. We miss the real gain of the life of Jesus because we are too buried in the ways of death. While Judas did a horrible thing, I do not believe his actions are isolated. How many of us have been fooled into feeling safe living a double life at the expense of Jesus?