Feb. 24, 2012
Now the Festival of Unleavened Bread, called the Passover, was approaching, and the chief priests and the teachers of the law were looking for some way to get rid of Jesus, for they were afraid of the people. Then Satan entered Judas, called Iscariot, one of the Twelve. And Judas went to the chief priests and the officers of the temple guard and discussed with them how he might betray Jesus. They were delighted and agreed to give him money.
In this journey through Lent, I am going to use the story of Jesus’ betrayal and crucifixion from Luke’s gospel as our study text. Every day, we’ll study a couple verses of scripture and explore how these words fit into our daily lives today. On a few days, we’ll look at the words and phrases Jesus said from the cross from the other gospel accounts.
We begin at the beginning of the 22nd chapter of Luke. During the three-year ministry period Jesus lived, he called a group of guys to be his closest friends. We call them Jesus’ disciples. These are the guys Jesus ate with, traveled with and experienced life with. In return, these guys left their families, their businesses and their occupations to be with Jesus. It was always Jesus intention to share his life and teachings with this group so that the message of Jesus as the Messiah would continue after his death.
Each of the 12 disciples is unique and would be interesting to study. In the last hours of Jesus’ life, we see one of these close friends, Judas, move into a pivotal role. He is the one who arranges with the local religious leaders and temple guards a way for Jesus to be arrested … for 30 pieces of silver (Matthew 26:15), an average amount of money for the time. With friends like Judas, who needs enemies?
Biblical scholars debate how close Judas was to Jesus, his role in the betrayal, etc. Some scholars say Judas wasn’t the bad guy. Rather someone extremely close to Jesus had to turn him in. It happened to be Judas.
When we read this passage, often our thoughts go to naming a person who has betrayed us. Most of us know what it feels like to have someone we trust hurt us; sometimes so deeply that it is nearly impossible to speak about. Even if the incident happened a significant time ago, emotions often remain raw and just beneath the skin.
It’s much easier to dwell upon those who have betrayed us rather than those people whom we have betrayed. In our defense, we think or say, “But …” as we rationalize our actions and position. Who really wants to admit that we’ve been fickle, short-sighted, self-centered or indignant in our dealings with close friends?
There’s one other way to look at these verses. Have we, like Judas, betrayed Jesus and his place in our lives? Ouch. We do it with no compensation of 30 pieces of silver, so it really isn’t so bad, we rationalize. We justify our actions, reducing the argument to the fact that at least our actions didn’t lead to Jesus’ crucifixion. So, we can’t be as awful as Judas. Our rebuttal is that if God hadn’t hung us out to dry, we would not have had to betray Jesus.
Isn’t it interesting the web our minds can weave? Thank goodness that like Judas, Jesus is willing to overlook our betrayals. Jesus doesn’t hold forever grudges. Jesus can quickly move beyond our hurtful thoughts and actions. If you’re not sure about this, look at your hands. Do they have holes from spikes in them?
Let us pray: I was so lost, I should have died, but you have brought me to your side, to be led by your staff and rod, and to be called the lamb of God. O Lamb of God, sweet Lamb of God. I love the holy Lamb of God. O wash me in his precious blood – my Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God. Amen.