Now Jesus was deeply troubled, and he exclaimed, “I tell you the truth, one of you will betray me!”
The disciples looked at each other, wondering whom he could mean. The disciple Jesus loved was sitting next to Jesus at the table. Simon Peter motioned to him to ask, “Who’s he talking about?” So that disciple leaned over to Jesus and asked, “Lord, who is it?”
Jesus responded, “It is the one to whom I give the bread I dip in the bowl.” And when he had dipped it, he gave it to Judas, son of Simon Iscariot. When Judas had eaten the bread, Satan entered into him. Then Jesus told him, “Hurry and do what you’re going to do.” None of the others at the table knew what Jesus meant. Since Judas was their treasurer, some thought Jesus was telling him to go and pay for the food or to give some money to the poor. So Judas left at once, going out into the night.
We all do bad things. There’s no arguing about that. You are a sinner, so am I, and so is everyone we know. We do things that hurt other people and dishonor God. We sin with our actions, our words and our thoughts. Humanity has a sin problem, and each one of us shares in the blame. But that doesn’t mean we are all like Judas. His sin was unique and uniquely terrible.
The relationship between Jesus and Judas fascinates and confuses us. Judas was one of the twelve disciples, chosen by Jesus to travel alongside him, to share meals, to pray and worship together, even to serve as treasurer for their ministry. Jesus washed Judas’ feet that night. All along, Jesus knew what Judas would do in the end. For a few pieces of silver, Judas would betray Jesus to his death. It’s one thing for a close friend to turn against you or to abandon you in a moment of peril, but how do we make sense of Jesus inviting Judas into the circle of disciples knowing what he would do? For that matter, how do we make sense of Jesus allowing Judas to betray him, even telling him, “Hurry and do what you’re going to do”? The truth is, what Judas did was part of God’s plan, just as what Pontius Pilate did and what the religious leaders did and what the Roman soldiers did were all necessary steps that sent Jesus to the cross. Our Savior had to die and rise again. That was the only way for God to save sinners like us, and for Jesus to die, He first had to be betrayed. Judas played a role that had to be played, and Jesus allowed him to do it. And yet, Judas was still responsible for his actions, still guilty of having betrayed the Son of God to his death.
In the same way, we are responsible for our actions, even the really bad ones we would like to explain away. “I don’t know what I was thinking.” “I will never be that foolish again.” “The devil made me do it.” Sin is sin, and every sin is bad no matter what excuses we may make or how much worse we think someone’s sin may be. We are sinners, and we need the Savior. Thanks be to God that Jesus chose the way of the cross, including Judas’ betrayal and all the suffering that followed.
Gracious Lord, thank You for sending Jesus to be my Savior. Please forgive my sins and fill my heart with the assurance of Your perfect love. I pray through Jesus who died to save me. Amen.
Pastor Mike Mirakian