Wednesday of Holy Week: A deal made all by himself, gone bad
Wednesday is the day we read Matthew 26:14-16, Mark 14:10-11, Luke 22:1-6 and John 13:2 and focus on the actions of Judas.
Judas has become a fall guy – his name is synonymous with treachery and betrayal. No one names their child “Judas”. John 12:6 addresses some of the underlying character of Judas – his default setting: “He…was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it”.
But all of the disciples fell away – ALL! Each had character faults that weakened their resolve. Each of them thought they were strong enough to face the coming events – but none of them knew the crucible of temptation that would expose their weakness and cause their courage to faulter.
The gospels also reveal that none of them knew of Judas’ deal and each of them wondered if Jesus was talking about them when he said he was going to betrayed. All of them, individually and collectively, were clueless about what was coming.
But while each of them failed, the scripture gives us a peek into the inner life of one …. And perhaps surprisingly, we find a look at ourselves.
So, as we look at Judas. We might ask, “What was Judas thinking?” (or in street talk, “What was he smokin”?).
For Jesus, Wednesday is a day of rest in Bethany at the home of Simon the Leper – perhaps a day off for the disciples. So, perhaps Judas took a stroll by himself into town and noticed a wanted poster of known dangerous types and discovered Jesus was listed among the wanted … with a bounty on his head. Judas (again perhaps) thought to himself, “this is a no brainer – easy money. Jesus will not allow himself to be arrested. He will walk right through them just I have seen him do it before. He will display his power and no longer hide that he is Messiah.”
The focus of my meditation is on the fact that Judas acted by himself – he kept his thoughts and activity to himself.
Some of our worst decisions happen when we do not take every thought captive in order to “demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5). All by ourselves we become prey for Satan. And in such a fashion, Satan entered Judas’ thoughts and then into his actions.
Later, we also see that Judas was seized with remorse and tried to repent. Matthew 27:3-5: “When Judas, who had betrayed him, saw that Jesus was condemned, he was seized with remorse and returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders. 4 “I have sinned,” he said, “for I have betrayed innocent blood.” “What is that to us?” they replied. “That’s your responsibility.” 5 So Judas threw the money into the temple and left. Then he went away and hanged himself.
Judas was trying to repent and take back his deal. But the religious leaders did not listen to his confession. The old saying is: When we deal with the devil – there is hell to pay. Judas saw himself in a hopeless situation. He thought (all by himself) that the only way out was suicide.
My dear friends …. We who are in this COVID-19 struggle and face the curse of loneliness, social distancing and the loss of the benefits of gathering …we find ourselves all by ourselves – left to our thoughts. New reports say that many are falling to addictions – alcohol sales are up. Dispensaries have long lines of cars waiting to get their “meds”. Depression can lead to suicidal thoughts. People cave into the distressing thoughts that seek to invade their lives and they can feel hopeless. They neglect the scriptures that remind us to rejoice in all things and to think about things that are “true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things” (Phil 4:8).
I wonder if, just as Peter was reinstated and reunited with Christ, Judas could also have been. Judas is called the son of perdition (referring to utter loss, eternal destruction, and disassociation." The Hebrew name is "Abaddon"). Jesus says it would have been better for him not to have been born. And in John 17:12, “While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by that name you gave me. None has been lost except the one doomed to destruction so that Scripture would be fulfilled”. And some say that Judas had no choice – he was forced to betray Jesus and yet others think he had a choice – just as all do. However, while we are left with a lot of unanswerable questions about Judas – we need not be left with unanswerable questions about ourselves.
We have all messed up. We have all done wrong. But scriptures say, “f we confess our sins (to Jesus) he is faithful and will forgive us from all of our sins” and “There is only one name under heaven by which we must [and can] be saved”.
It is not pastors or priests or a church, nor religious piety or penance or self-punishment or disciplines that can offer forgiveness that will cleanse our guilty conscious and save us. Any confession to a therapist or religious authority cannot save us or redeem our soul. Nor can “the bottle” or self-medication; nor can positive self-talk sooth our soul sufficient enough to give us the God-given gift of hope that comes when we offer a full confession to Christ.
Conviction of sin – being seized with remorse” is good. We just need to direct that conviction to Jesus. The bad deal can be turned to good. Judas’ bad deal was not turned to good became he sought forgiveness from those who had no forgiveness to offer.
Take all of your faults, failings, and treacheries to Jesus.
All by ourselves we make wrong choices. And we have all made wrong choices. All have sinned.
And then, all by ourselves we can lose hope and give into despair.
But we need not.
Turn to Christ. He is the one who truly loves us – in spite of our weakness, faults, sins, mistakes, etc.
Do not despair. Christ alone purchased forgiveness. He alone can forgive sins and can heal. “the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins." (Mark 2:10)
The old song “All by myself” says:
When I was young, I never needed anyone … (what a deceptive lie)
Hard to be sure, Sometimes I feel so insecure (insecurity: yes this is the plight of all)
And love so distant and obscure, Remains the cure (yes love is the cure – but only God’s)
All by myself, Don’t wanna be, All by myself Anymore
And we don’t have to be alone and without hope. As Oswald Chambers wrote: We have the Never-forsaking God
What line of thinking do my thoughts take? Do I turn to what God says or to my own fears? Am I simply repeating what God says, or am I learning to truly hear Him and then to respond after I have heard what He says? “For He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’ So we may boldly say: ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?’” (Hebrews 13:5-6).
“I will never leave you…”— not for any reason; not my sin, selfishness, stubbornness, nor waywardness. Have I really let God say to me that He will never leave me? If I have not truly heard this assurance of God, then let me listen again.
“I will never…forsake you.” Sometimes it is not the difficulty of life but the drudgery of it that makes me think God will forsake me. When there is no major difficulty to overcome, no vision from God, nothing wonderful or beautiful— just the everyday activities of life— do I hear God’s assurance even in these? Even when I am overcome with sin and deals gone bad – God’s offer is the same.
Blessings on you today