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Thursday, April 05, 2012

I Would Rather be Judas...

I would rather be Judas... Yes, I mean that Judas!

Sometimes thoughts float in and out of my brain. Sometimes I may or may not pay attention to them. Sometimes I may or may not follow them.

Recently I was startled when the thought; “I would rather be Judas” came to the surface from somewhere deep within. “What??” I questioned myself… “What do you mean?”

As I was preparing a lesson during Lent for the children of Abbey Way, I looked up the Last Supper story in each gospel; comparing them to each other. I also read that section from the book, God so Loved the World” by Elizabeth Goudge.

Because of that research, I began to notice that I heard a different tone in Christ’s words when he speaks of the one who would betray him. In the past, I always heard his words of, “It would be better for that one to never have been born” as very condemning… coming from the angry lips of a justifiably revenging God. But this year, I heard them as coming from the heart of a Shepherd; one who sees more landscape than the sheep does, and is mourning over what that sheep is about to do and where it will end up… in pain, confusion and, ultimately, a lonely death. I heard him – in the moment of his pain and betrayal – inviting that sheep to reconsider and not continue. When the moment is sealed by Judas proceeding with his intention; only then does Jesus tell him to hurry up and get it over with. I can almost hear the click of the closing door of opportunity.

So, back to my random thoughts; needless to say, I thought I was crazy, thinking that “I would rather be Judas…”

But my thoughts continued on with the story. As the events unfold, and Judas betrays Jesus, more players step into the picture. I thought particularly of the religious leaders… and then I noticed that my random thought completed itself… “I would rather be Judas; then be like them.”
I began to be aware of the depth of their ‘calculated-ness’ and their cold-hard determination to kill. Who knows what Judas was thinking or what truly motivated him to betray Jesus; but the real, scary killers that day were the ones who were determined to hold on to the power they had in the existing system and not allow God to ‘create a new thing.’

I think the meeting between the religious leaders and Judas is particularly telling of the craziness of this cold determination. Judas comes to return the money to them. He cannot bear keeping it; realizing he has sinned and betrayed an innocent man. The religious leaders retort, “What do we care? That’s your problem.” (Matt. 27:4 NLT). Judas then throws the money into the temple and goes out and hangs himself.

Not a very shepherd-like response from them, huh?

Then... then! The religious leaders say to each other, “It wouldn’t BE RIGHT to put this money
in the Temple treasury since it was a payment for murder.”

Talk about straining on a gnat while eating a camel!!

I can hardly breathe, that statement is so fraught with the insanity of hypocrisy.

What sort of Temple are they protecting??? One that should be torn down!!?? One that Christ rebuilt in three days??? And, wasn’t that what they were convicting Christ of??? Saying he would rebuild the temple in three days??

They decided to buy a potter’s field with that money and it became a cemetery for foreigners.

Even with the profits of Christ’s betrayal; the outsider finds shelter.

Nothing is wasted in God’s hands.

So, back to Judas… I would rather be Judas. I would rather be able to see my sin and wake up and try my best to stop and turn; even if I get SO muddled up because it is so huge that I cannot see the way through… than to be so hard and cold that I do not even care that I have brought about murder.

But each of us has our ‘religious leader’ moments, don’t we?

We are, each of us Judas and the religious leaders at times. What about them?Are they beyond cure?


All are covered in Jesus’ words as he died… did you notice that? ...as he died. Again, in the midst of his pain and agony; he was tending… praying. He was praying for each one and his words cover us all. “Father, forgive them, they don't know what they are doing.” We are, after all, sheep. We can only see so far… we only notice the grass at our feet or (at best) a little bit ahead of us. Where would we be without a shepherd? Where would we be?

Thank God for our Shepherd.

Thank God that he has the power to tear down the temples of our hearts and rebuild them.

Thank God that his ‘love washes over a multitude of things’.

He is risen.

He is risen indeed.

And so,
we can rise,
and begin again…


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