Thursday, March 19, 2015

What was on Judas' mind?


Just the name itself makes you think of a traitor.  Cowardly.  Greedy.  Two-faced.

Is there a missing dimension to Judas that can teach us more about who he was?  Could it possibly teach us about who we are?

It is about two weeks before Easter and I wonder what was going through the minds of those who followed Jesus.  They were getting ready to celebrate the holiday of Passover but could they sense that something was changing?  Were they completely unaware that they were entering into the final 10 days of Jesus' ministry on Earth?

And what was going on in Judas' mind?

It is likely that at this point he was already in negotiations with religious leaders to show them where Jesus was staying at night.  No one wanted to take Jesus into custody by day because it would have caused a scene and they weren't sure whether Jesus would incite a riot to defend Himself.  So it was important to find out where Jesus was at night (since He often moved around) and take care of bringing Him to justice under the cover of night.

So Judas betrays Jesus by revealing Jesus' location at night.

There are a few things that don't add up, though.  For one, the price.  Judas sells out Jesus for 30 pieces of silver.  Depending on how you value the money it was anywhere between five and fifteen thousand dollars.  Not exactly the amount that gets you a plane ticket to a beach in Mexico to live out the rest of your life.  And Judas returns later to throw the money back at their feet.  Judas may have been the greedy one of the group but it is obvious he wasn't in it for the money.

Add to it the kiss.  When he approaches Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane, he approaches Jesus with a kiss.  A coward who had just sold out his master would remain hidden among the crowd and point from a distance.  Only the most arrogant and callous of individuals would seal their betrayal with a kiss.

But Judas wasn't arrogant or callous.  When Judas found out that Jesus was condemned he hung himself.  This shows that Judas was invested in the outcome.  Something didn't go according to Judas' plan . . .

And what was that plan?

Is it possible that Judas got tired of Jesus teaching and doing His miracles among the illiterate?  Was it possible that Judas' betrayal was a way to get Jesus an audience with those who could do something about it?  Perhaps Judas was thinking that finally among the Sanhedrin Jesus' truth could be seen.  Or perhaps it was Judas' push to get Jesus confronting the religious elite.  We will probably never know.

What seems obvious, even though we will never be sure, is that it wasn't about money.  He threw it back. It wasn't about being upset with Jesus because Judas threw his own life away.

Is it possible that for Judas God wasn't acting quickly enough?

Everyone has a timetable, an internal sense of when something should happen.  We get anxious when nothing happens.  Something should happen.  Nothing is happening.  God is not answering my prayers.  Why are you silent?  Why don't you act?  Our lives are filled with mistakes we make when we feel like God isn't acting.  We push.  Bend the rules.  Plant seeds in conversations.  Bargain.  Bully.  Press.

Our headlines are filled with grievous evil of people who have stopped listening to God and His timing and His rhythms and take matters into their own hands.  Twenty people in Tunisia are gone today because of someone playing the part of God.

And it all starts with thinking we know better.

We don't.

"God grant us the ability to let you lead and not push."

Let the wicked change their ways
    and banish the very thought of doing wrong.
Let them turn to the Lord that he may have mercy on them.
    Yes, turn to our God, for he will forgive generously.

“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord.

    “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.

For just as the heavens are higher than the earth,

    so my ways are higher than your ways
    and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.

Isaiah 55:7-9

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