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Judas and Jesus and me

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Matthew 26:14, 24-25
Judas went to the chief priests and asked, "What are you willing to give me if I hand him over to you?" So they counted out for him thirty silver coins.

(At their Passover meal, Jesus said to his disciples) "The Son of Man will go just as it is written about him. But woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man! It would be better for him if he had not been born."

Then Judas said, "Surely not I, Rabbi?"

Jesus answered, "Yes, it is you."

Judas did his deed. The priests took their soldiers and captured Jesus in the dead of night. Jesus didn't stop them, which might have surprised Judas. He wasn't released after questioning, which might have surprised him even more. And then he was punished brutally, appearing covered with blood, ridiculed by the crowds, and finally condemned. Judas couldn't believe it.

Except for John, there's no mention in the Bible of disciples at the cross. Was Judas there? Jesus' death was never his intention. Judas took matters into his own hands, trying to move Jesus toward his goals. These were not Jesus' goals and not the Father's goals. God and Judas were at odds.

God won. One of the things God says unequivocally about himself is that He accomplishes what he sets out to accomplish (Isaiah 55:11). Jesus followed the path set before him and Judas was his unwitting accomplice. In doing so he set himself against God. It wasn't long before he saw his error; but unlike Peter, he refused to turn back to God. He went out and hung himself.

I have a whole bunch of Judas-stuff inside me. I want my own way. I think I know what God is doing, and that's because I'm doing it. God must be doing what I think he should. My goals are righteous; God is righteous; therefore God's goals surely are the same as mine. That's Judas-logic. It takes me down a road toward the desert, toward empty lonely striving, where failure and despair might even lead me to death by hanging.

When I don't get what I want, who is right? God or me? Judas knew the righteousness of his thoughts and plans. But he stopped listening to God along the way. That moment, when one's own mind takes over, is one I recognize. It's a moment to fall on my face, let down my guard, cry out for help. It's the moment of temptation, and it's followed oh so quickly by the moment of sin.

Instead of this, what? What should I do when God and I seem to want something different? Jesus prayed a lot. He listened a lot. He said over and over, "I only do what my Father is doing." His confidence blows me away. He was confident to wait or act, he was confident to suffer or not to suffer, he was confident to live or to die. Whatever timing God chose for him, Jesus was confident within it.

I can say that Jesus was more in touch and intimate with his Father than I will ever be. Maybe he was. But I know I can get a lot closer. Listen more. Hear more clearly. There's nothing that matters more.

I want you, Lord. More than what I think I want instead. Give me courage in those many moments when I choose whether or not to listen and follow you.



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