Read Mark 14:10-11
10 Then Judas Iscariot, who was one of the twelve, went off to the chief priests in order to betray Him to them. 11 They were glad when they heard this, and promised to give him money. And he began seeking how to betray Him at an opportune time.
As I was reading this selected Lent passage today, I became aware of a few things I’d like to share. This is not by any stretch an exhaustive look at Judas, his life or motives. But from a simple reading of the passage I was struck by three very distinct things that I quickly realized could be part of any of our lives.
The Invitation: One of the twelve
There are many reasons why people follow Jesus. Some are looking for a ticket to heaven. Some are looking for healing. Some are looking for peace and happiness. One of the incredible things about this story is that Jesus knew exactly whom he was calling to follow Him. He had spent time in prayer over this matter.
12 It was at this time that He went off to the mountain to pray, and He spent the whole night in prayer to God. 13 And when day came, He called His disciples to Him and chose twelve of them, whom He also named as apostles: 14 Simon, whom He also named Peter, and Andrew his brother; and James and John; and Philip and Bartholomew; 15 and Matthew and Thomas; James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon who was called the Zealot; 16 Judas the son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor. Luke 6:12-16
It wasn’t a quick decision but a deliberate one. Judas was called to follow Jesus and he had the opportunity of a lifetime to experience the life, love and acceptance of Christ. But he had not found what he was looking for. Judas was one of the twelve and for close to three years he got close to Jesus. Then something went woefully wrong. Judas looked at the invitation to follow Christ as an invitation to “more”. Greed had become a motivation in Judas’ life.
Judas was the keeper of the money bag and according to John 12:
4 But Judas Iscariot, one of His disciples, who was intending to betray Him, *said, 5 “Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and given to poor people?” 6 Now he said this, not because he was concerned about the poor, but because he was a thief, and as he had the money box, he used to pilfer what was put into it.
According to that passage, Judas was helping himself to some of the funds that Jesus had acquired throughout his ministry. Maybe Judas wanted more money? Maybe he had grown weary of the upside-down power scale of loving enemies and allowing women and children around? Maybe he had come to a place where he saw an opportunity to get something out of following Jesus instead of contributing to the cause? Whatever the reason, greed had infiltrated his heart. How about yours?
In what way have you had your hand in the moneybag?
How have you taken things that belong to Christ?
How have you cheated the system?
In what way does “more” play out in your daily life?
The Intention: In order to betray Him
When Judas went to the chief priests and lawyers, he knew exactly what he was doing. He was going to betray Jesus into their hands. He found a way to profit off the prophet. It wasn’t enough for him to be caring for women and children and healing the sick. This wasn’t the kind of plan that was going to profit him. Judas was looking for what he was going to get out of following Jesus and this is one of the key things that lead to his demise.
How often have I come to Christ with a “what’s in it for me” attitude? And yet this is exactly the attitude Judas had. He was fed up with doing good and being good. He wanted something other than that. And he found exactly what he was looking for. He went looking for an opportunity and he found one. This principle works for both good and bad things. But rest assured you will find what you are looking for!
Are you looking for opportunities to do good? How about to sin?
Do you have a “what’s in it for me” attitude?
How have you sought to betray Jesus by being one of His Chosen and yet living as though you don’t know Him or want to be part of His mission?
The Investigation: to betray Him at an opportune time
There is no doubt that the ones closest to us can hurt us the most. Undoubtedly Jesus loved Judas as a person and follower of his. The depth of betrayal and the feelings that go with it are beyond my comprehension. But this didn’t happen immediately. It was all about timing.
Judas having made an agreement with the chief priests had to wait for the right moment. He had to carry on as though all was fine. He had to wait patiently for the right situation to present itself…and it eventually did.
Be careful what you are looking for because you just might find it!
Who knows if Judas’ intention was always to betray Jesus? We do know that at some point that became the means to an end. And at the right time he did it. He gave in to his greed. He gave in to his quest for more.
What is it you are looking for?
How is it that you want “more” and God is saying “wait” or “no” altogether?
What will you do the next time the right moment comes to betray the Lord? How will you resist or overcome?
How to avoid a tragic end?
Understand your calling to Christ.
Dietrich Bonhoffer said:
“When Christ calls a man, He bids him come and die.”
Christ is not calling us so He can merely give us something i.e.Heaven. He is calling us to live differently in this world. He is calling us to move from a mentality of “more” and helping ourselves to whatever we want or desire to living sacrificially for others. You are chosen and intentionally so. God has a plan to use you but don’t digress into just “using” God to get what you want.
Understand your motives.
5 Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you—unless indeed you fail the test? 6 But I trust that you will realize that we ourselves do not fail the test.
2 Corinthians 13:5
Why are you doing what you do? This is of utmost importance. Knowing who you are and what you are all about is key in life. God already knows your heart and how deceitful it can be. Don’t underestimate yourself when it comes to being able to betray Christ or the trust of others. Seek to live openly and sincerely before all. Pray like David did in Psalm 139:
23 Search me, O God, and know my heart;
Try me and know my anxious thoughts;
24 And see if there be any hurtful way in me,
And lead me in the everlasting way.
Understand your opportunities.
It would have been great for Judas to have been presented with a chance to betray Christ and then for him to courageously refuse to do so. But that didn’t happen. We all have to remember that some opportunities come once-in-a-lifetime and we need to be very careful how we act and react. There are times when our motives, faith and intentions will be tested.This will be your opportune time to let Christ shine. You can avoid a tragic ending if you will make the most of every opportunity you have to live for the glory of God and not yourself.