I deserve what is coming,
If the truth be told.
The Savior’s for sale,
And I’ve rendered Him sold
– Griffin House, Judas
Then Judas Iscariot, one of the Twelve, went to the chief priests to betray Jesus to them. They were delighted to hear this and promised to give him money. So he watched for an opportunity to hand him over. Mark 14:10-11
Judas. If ever there as villain, this is the guy. Betrayal, dishonesty, greed—these are the words that we think of when we think of Judas. Or maybe those are too mild. Maybe the words we think of are words like despise, disgust, hate.
But not Jesus. Jesus does not despise, or hate, or treat him poorly. On the Thursday before the cross, the very night he would be betrayed, Jesus washes Judas’ feet. It’s easy to forget the fact that Judas was in the room when Jesus washed the disciple’s feet. (Maybe because it’s easier to think of him already off doing his deeds of darkness.)
Jesus never treats Judas poorly; he never completely calls him out. He does let Judas know that he knows and he does let the disciples know, in somewhat veiled terms, that he knows of a betrayer. But Jesus never treats him as we probably would. He treats him with love. He treats him with respect, acceptance and service—right to the very end. When Jesus told us to love our enemies, he apparently intended to practice what he preached.
But Judas is the guy we love to hate. It feels justified. It feels right. But if Jesus didn’t, why should we? I’m not saying we should be fans or admirers, or that we should excuse his behavior. But right to the end Judas found love and service from the Savior he would betray. This is true love for ones enemy—knowing they will do wrong and still treating them right.
Perhaps we love to despise Judas because it helps us feel justified when someone betrays us. Maybe we love to hate Judas because then we can see him as worse than us. Or maybe we just like to have something to hate.
Griffin House, in his song, Judas, paints the picture of Judas as a tortured soul. Obviously, Judas had regrets in the end. Such regrets that he was driven to take his own life. If anything we should have sorrow, not hate for him. We should pity him.
Thursday evening: the disciples were sharing a meal—the meal. The one where Jesus would identify himself as the lamb who would take a way the sins of the world. And here Jesus announces the reality of a betrayer.
While they were reclining at the table eating, he said, “Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me—one who is eating with me.”
They were saddened, and one by one they said to him, “Surely not I?”
“It is one of the Twelve,” he replied, “one who dips bread into the bowl with me.
Surely not I. We should all echo these words of the disciples. Instead of judging the actions of a betrayer like Judas, we should examine the actions of our own lives, with the sentiment of the other disciples: “Surely not I.”
The Savior is still for sale. And we can easily render him sold. It doesn’t take hatred for him, or outward actions that are obviously rebellious and wicked. Remember, Judas betrayed Jesus with an act of affection—with a kiss.
The cross is coming at the hands of the Betrayer. Instead of judging him and hating him, and feeling better than him, may we respond with the true disciples, “Surely not I Lord… surely not I.”