"Then Judas Iscariot, one of the Twelve, went to the chief priests to betray Jesus to them."
Mark 14:10 (NIV)
As we begin our series during Lent, Characters of the Cross, I wanted this to be an opportunity of self-reflection for us. I believed that starting with Judas was appropriate. It is how we begin the walk to the Cross. When we reflect upon the Passion Story, we tend to look with disdain upon Judas. Yet, if we reflect close enough, will we see more than Judas? Let's take some time to do so.
Judas' background is an interesting one. His parents were Sadducees, and actually disowned Judas when he started following John the Baptist. When he became a disciple, he was seen as one who was very educated. He was actually the "treasurer" among the disciples. Judas was always conflicted about Jesus. While listening to Jesus, his mind saw the strength of Jesus. He believed in Jesus, but some say they wonder if he truly loved our Savior as the other disciples did. During times of educating the disciples, Jesus would talk to Judas directly - helping him with the understanding of Jesus' message. Judas had difficulty with that. There were times he resented the instruction, as he had ideas of how Jesus should be acting (showing more strength than humility). It seemed like the last straw was when Mary used an expensive perfume while washing Jesus' feet, in honor and worship to Jesus. When Judas objected to this, Jesus shared the good reason Mary was doing this. (John 12:6). Judas began to look for a way to turn against Jesus. The chief priests were the ones who would help him. As we know, Judas betrayed Jesus for 30 pieces of silver. Later, when he fully realized what he had done, he threw the silver back to the chief priests and took his own life.
Reflecting on Judas, I can't help but take a hard look at myself. We may look at Judas and see a traitor, one who wasn't on Jesus' side. Yet, the more I reflected, the more I realized that I, too, have been Judas during my life. Yes, I may have the knowledge of what Jesus has done for me, but have I "given my all" to him every day? Have I had ideas of how Jesus should be acting, what He should be doing? I know that I have given Jesus advice over the years. Who am I to do this? The more I look at who Judas was, the more I realize that I have seen myself in Judas. Yes, it is very sad to admit, but it is the truth. I am so very thankful that our Dear Jesus has been patient with me, has forgiven me, and doesn't hold that against me when it comes to loving me. His unconditional love for me has seen me through the dark places and into a wonderful light.
As we reflect on Judas, let us be truthful to ourselves. Have we seen a bit of Judas in ourselves? Let us take the time to be honest and be repentant of that behavior. Let us pray to our Jesus and ask Him to focus our eyes to the cross, each and every day, for each and every situation. May the blessings of this Lenten season follow us through our lives.
"Dearest Jesus, although you knew of the betrayal long before it occurred, how difficult it must have been to know that one of your closest confidants was going to be the one to bring you to the cross. Jesus, I know I have fallen into Judas' character over the years. Thank you for bringing me out of that darkness. I pray you continue to focus me on the cross. Amen."