Don’t be a Judas

Bible“God . . . I don’t understand . . .”
It wasn’t that long ago I read something . . . something that made my blood run cold. And I read it from the Bible. I thought I understood our God, but what I read stopped me in my tracks. What I read seemed to go against everything I believed about him. What would you do? I couldn’t go to God’s word – my problem was what I read there. So I went to the source – I told God I didn’t understand . . . and what he told me blew me away.First let me tell you tell you what I read. (Matthew 26:20-24)
20 When evening came, Jesus was reclining at the table with the Twelve. 21 And while they were eating, he said, “I tell you the truth, one of you will betray me.” 22 They were very sad and began to say to him one after the other, “Surely not I, Lord?” 23 Jesus replied, “The one who has dipped his hand into the bowl with me will betray me. 24 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.Woe is right – It would be better for him if he had not been born? Wait a second here, God says before I formed you in the womb I knew you. So before Judas was born, God knew that it would be better if he had not been born? That didn’t seem fair. I mean, does God know that about me – that maybe it would have been better if I hadn’t been born? How about you?
1000 years earlier the prophets had been telling everyone that this would happen regarding Jesus. So where did Judas’ own will fit into all this? Was this Judas’ destiny? What a horrible thought. I always thought that God had beautiful plans for my life – that he’d fix the mess I’d made and make the caterpillar into a butterfly, but how do I know that the story of my life won’t be “it would be better for him if he had not been born.” Does God have that kind of horrible destiny for me or you; something that we cannot escape?
The God I believe in isn’t like that. But I don’t like blindly ignoring the facts because they don’t fit into what I understand. I see enough of that around me already – belivers and athiests alike. I believe in a God who is real; just like you and I are. And just like you could answer a question if I asked you one, a real God can answer prayer. So I asked him about all this . . . and one day like the first drops of rain in a dry and parched desert, he told me; and what he said brought me to tears.God told me two things First, God said to me: For I know the plans I have for you, plans . . . to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.    So God does have plans for my life; I can’t tell you want a relief it was to know that they’re good plans – not some horrible destiny. In fact he takes it a step further: In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God   . . . was thinking about you. He chose us in him before the creation of the world.    Remember Joseph in the old testament – he was tattletale kid and God was thinking . . . “mmm . . .rule Egypt and save the known world from famine.” Moses was a baby floating down the Nile and God was thinking . . . “mmm . . .lead my nation – Israel.” David was herding sheep and God was thinking: “king!” God has plans for you – you just may not know what they are or when he is going to say “OK you’re ready.” The fact that I am writing this today is a case in point.
Maybe you are thinking that God doesn’t have plans for you, or you have made too big a mess of things for God to use you. Remember, not everyone is like a Joseph or David, where at 30 years Desertold God says “you’re ready to rule a nation.” Most of us are like Moses. We know God has something planned for us and to show God we’re ready, we go and do something stupid like murder someone, and God says, “h-hold on there babaluey,” and sends us off to the wilderness . . . to grow up . . . for 40 years! God’s sense of timing is a little different than ours – probably because he knows what’s best for us. God promised Abraham a son – but waited until Abraham was, as the bible so gently puts it, “as good as dead,”   before he fulfilled his plans for him. Jesus waited until Lazarus was dead. You might feel like Moses, trained in the royal Egyptian schools to be the leader of a nation, but doing nothing except leading a bunch of sheep around the desert. God says he has plans for you. Good plans, of prosper and hope. We might not understand his sense of timing, but God knows what he is doing, and you can bank on the fact that he will come through. So . . . then what happened to Judas?The second thing God said to me was “Dan, the message here is not what you think. Don’t be a Judas doesn’t mean, don’t betray Jesus. In case you hadn’t looked in the mirror lately, it’s too late for that.” Look at Peter, he denied Jesus 3 times   – that’s tantamount to betrayal. And if you think you haven’t or you wouldn’t . . . it’s only because you haven’t heard the rooster crow yet . This isn’t about betrayal; it’s a message about forgiveness. It is about probably the greatest mystery ever to have come to mankind.

Let me explain:
Judas was special; he was one of the ‘inner circle.’ Out of the hundreds of people that followed Jesus around and the millions he could have looked for, Jesus chose twelve, and Judas was one of them. God Says before I formed you in the womb I knew you. In other words when Jesus chose Judas, Jesus already knew Judas would betray him. But here’s the clincher – Jesus chose him anyway. There are a lot things the bible doesn’t say, but from the things that it does, I’m willing to bet that from the time Jesus called Judas, to the time he received the fateful betraying kiss, Jesus never treated Judas any different than any of the disciples; never treated him like a betrayer. 11 disciples would be the kindling that set the world – history – on fire, one would be a betrayer,. 11 would make him proud, one would be a disappointment. Jesus knew it would end up like that, but still gave Judas every blessing, every nugget of truth, every miraculous power. When the disciples went out healing people – I’m sure Judas was one of them. Jesus gave him every chance – to do the right thing.

Just like Jesus knew Judas would fail, Jesus knows you’re going to fail. . .and he still choose you. Just like Judas, Jesus will never treat us like we’re betrayers, giving us every blessing, every nugget of truth, every chance.
So here is the big question. Judas had it all going for him; he was one of the chosen, trained by Jesus himself. . .so where did Judas make his fatal mistake? It was right at the very end when he realized that he was wrong. Can’t you just see his face, Matthew 27 says he was seized with remorse, “I have sinned,” he said, “for I have betrayed innocent blood.” Can you feel his agony for a measly 30 sheckles . . . he was a murderer – and worse, it was his friend. Of course – Judas said this to the Pharisees. They didn’t care, “that’s your problem” they said. So let me ask you something – those of you that know God. If Judas had run to Golgotha instead of that potters field , and fallen on his knees in front of the cross, and said “Jesus, I’m so sorry,” what do you think Jesus would have said?
Not too long ago I had one of those days – and who do you think bore the brunt of my grouchiness . . . my wife. She never really said anything about it that day. The next day I was thinking about the way I treated her, and feeling like a bit of a schmuck. So I went to her to apologize. She looked up at me with those blue blue eyes, with that look on her face that says she loves me more than anything else in this world, and said, “Oh, I had already forgotten all about that.” I hardly had to ask, and it was as if I had never done anything wrong.
If Judas had gone to Jesus . . I can just see it. I just know Jesus would have looked at him, with that look on his face that says he loves you more than life itself, and would have said to Judas, the same thing that he says to everyone who admits their sin.   The same thing he says to you and I. “Of course I forgive you. I’m so glad you came home”

If you think you are alone falling at the feet of Jesus begging for forgiveness, think again. First of all I’m right beside you. There is also a list of, shall we say, seedy people from the bible whose knee prints you’ll be using at the foot of the cross. Mm I think it’s in Hebrews – ah yes, the hall of faith . Noah – Drunk. Abraham – gave his wife to another man to protect his own skin – and he did it twice; Rahab – prostitute; Moses – murderer; Gideon – coward, Jephthah – child sacrificer; King David – adulterer, murderer, and there’s more. These people are given to us as examples of faith, but if you haven’t heard these stories you have got to read them. There is some stuff in here that would make the Inquirer blush. I believe one of the reasons God gave us these examples is to remind us that from cover to cover every person but one in the bible is in the same boat as you and I. We’re just like Judas; try to succeed, destined to fail. And just like Judas that decision that makes or breaks everything is ours, Golgotha, or the Potter’s field; foregivness, or failure.

As someone who spends their fare of time share in those ancient knee prints, let me tell you, there is no ecstasy like being completely forgiven. If any of you find yourself standing there with a hole in the pit of your stomach, and knot in your throat, staring at 30 sheckles, remember that face and hear the cry that resounds from heaven, “Please . . . please don’t be a Judas”