As we approach the end of the season of Lent this year, we enter into the events that occurred prior to Jesus’s execution on the cross of Calvary. There are many things that occurred during that final week. Some of them encouraging and serving as reminders of God’s grace toward us as followers of Jesus. But some other events can remind us of how dark life can get when we lose our way.
The one event that comes to mind in this final week of Jesus’s life was the decision made by Judas Iscariot to betray Jesus into the hands of the high priest and his followers. During the night of the Last Supper, at the conclusion of the meal, Jesus tells the disciples that one among them would betray him. All of them looked around unsure as to who it could be. And while we are given no indication that anyone suspected Judas of being the betrayer, the biblical record indicates that Judas knew Jesus was talking about him.
It is so hard to describe or adequately articulate the feelings associated with an act of betrayal. The feelings and thoughts that emerge when that breach of trust is finally exposed can leave very deep emotional and spiritual wounds.
We can only imagine how Jesus felt knowing who would be the catalyst for the events that would lead to his death. And then for the other disciples to learn who among them had cast aside all they had seen in and through Jesus for 30 pieces of silver must’ve been a great shock.
While we would like to think we are not capable of such an act, the truth is not only are we capable in the right circumstances but we let ourselves off the hook for the small betrayals we commit against our own consciences and integrity. I do not mean to malign anyone or to falsely accuse anyone without cause. My intention is to reveal how easy it can be to judge the motives of another while giving a lenient interpretation of our own motives.
This entire topic is so difficult because it requires an omniscient mind in order to understand the multitude of contours that go into the decision. It can be overly simplistic to think that people commit a betrayal in a moment. The truth is the final act of betrayal is the culmination of a journey away from what one believed to be true at some point in the past.
I find it hard to believe that when Judas was called by Jesus he intended to betray him three years later. But at some point in his time walking and talking with Jesus he became discouraged with how Jesus was doing his ministry in the world. And that seed of doubt continued to grow until it bore the fruit of betrayal against Jesus.
We must all be careful what we allowed to grow in the soil of our heart. Because we do not know when that seed of doubt will bring forth its fruit in our lives. Again, my intention is not to scare anyone but to encourage an intentional awareness of those things that could take root in our minds and hearts.
While the season of Lent is coming to an end and we turn our attention to rejoicing in God’s faithful salvation through Jesus, it is a stark reminder of how fragile we all can be. Judas’s act of betrayal must serve as an example of what can happen when we allow ourselves to stand in judgment over how God chooses to act in the world.