“While He was still speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, suddenly arrived. A large mob, with swords and clubs, was with him from the chief priests and elders of the people. His betrayer had given them a sign: “The One I kiss, He’s the One; arrest Him!” So he went right up to Jesus and said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” and kissed Him.” (Matt 26:47-49)
We’re really good at pointing fingers at people. It seems like every time a wrong is done, someone has to be blamed. I’m sure you can think of countless examples of this. It is a staple of human nature. We desperately want to be right, to be vindicated, and to uphold a picture perfect image of ourselves we want others to have. We just hate being wrong, because if we’re wrong, then others will think less of us, and we have not proven our goodness to them and ourselves.
There are two characters I can think of that we, the Christian community, often assign all blame to for every sin in the history of humanity. The first one is Eve, and the second one is Judas. In this season of Easter, I would like to reflect on the character of Judas a bit.
Judas, the betrayer of Jesus, has been labeled as the biggest traitor to have ever lived. He was one of the 12 original disciples of Christ. He was there with Jesus. Imagine that for a second – what if you had been there. What if you saw the miracles? What if you saw the literal face of God? It is hard for us to fathom. Because of this, we can easily point a finger at Judas. How could he have betrayed Jesus? He saw the miracles! He knew who He really was! How can you betray the Son of God to be crucified? Then on top of that, he KISSED Him! What a vile, back-stabbing to do – betray Him and then kiss Him, pretending like He loved Him.
The betrayal of Judas has reached archetypal proportions. When people are betrayed or stabbed in the back, it is oftentimes referred to as a “kiss of Judas.” Judas was not just a betrayer. He is the betrayer. He is the one that was single-handedly responsible for the death of our Savior. All of it was Judas, and that is the only thing all of human history has remembered him by – the one who betrayed Jesus, the back-stabbing kiss, the one who is to blame….
But I can think of another person who has betrayed Jesus, then kissed Him on the cheek and said “I love You.” And his name is me. Make no mistake, I have betrayed Jesus just as much as Judas. I have sinned, and seem to find myself sinning over and over. And then I go to church, worship Christ, pray to Him, and tell Him I love Him. Don’t get me wrong, these are all great things. But I had just as big a hand in putting Christ on a tree to be killed as Judas. I’m responsible for Christ’s death. And I can’t quite bring myself to point a finger and Judas and say, “Look what you did!” Because if I point a finger at Judas, I have to point a finger at myself.
So why is Easter a time to celebrate? If I betrayed Him, if you betrayed Him, if Judas betrayed Him, why do we celebrate?
“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)
I celebrate because God loves me, and God loves you so crazily that Jesus gave His life up for us in spite of our betrayal, and He wanted to. Despite of the Judas in all of us, He died for us. And He didn’t just die for us, he rose for us. He forgave us for our betrayal, and He invited us to a life of loving relationship with Him so amazing we can’t even imagine what is in store. And He continues to do the same. This is a love like we’ve never seen. This is why we celebrate.
Take a moment today to think about the Judas inside of you. I know I will. And then gaze at the cross, and dwell on the Christ who gave Himself up for you and me in spite of our sin. This Christ beat death with death, beat darkness with light, and beat evil with love. And as I reflect on the character of Judas today, He is the Christ who beat betrayal in me and you with forgiveness.
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