“While he was still speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, arrived. With him was a large crowd armed with swords and clubs, sent from the chief priests and the elders of the people. Now the betrayer had arranged a signal with them: “The one I kiss is the man; arrest him.” Going at once to Jesus, Judas said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” and kissed him.
Jesus replied, “Do what you came for, friend.”
As I was reading a devotional this morning, I was quickly (and timely) reminded of a part of the story of Jesus’ final days on earth that I hadn’t really ever related to as much – Judas’s betrayal.
Judas walked, talked, served and even professed to love Jesus. He sacrificed his own comforts to travel and be apart of THE twelve disciples. He chose Jesus so many times over what he wanted, yet knew deep down he needed. And still, in the end – he chose his flesh, his desire for power and authority and the opinions of his peers over Jesus.
Recently I experienced something similar. Nothing in comparison to the level of hurt, embarrassment, rejection or abandonment that Jesus did – however, still similar. People that were meant to coach, protect, support and encourage went out of their way to use their power, authority and insecurities to do the complete opposite. Two weeks later and hindsight is 20/20 – isn’t it always, though?
I see what God was doing when He pulled me out of there. He’s a good, gracious, protective and loving Father who doesn’t allow His children more harm than they can handle – so He said enough was enough.
But in that decision I felt betrayed. How could people who are expected to do one thing, do the opposite without even blinking? A substantial amount of questions of how and why have flooded my mind the last two weeks – but one thing has been so very constant; with every question – there is only one answer.
Forgive because I am forgiven.
Jesus loved Judas despite the betrayal – I mean in the midst of His arrest, He called Judas friend. I’m gonna be honest with you, there are a lot of words I personally would have had for Judas, and friend would not have been one of them. But that’s because I am me (fully human) and even though Jesus was fully man – He was also fully God. He knew the beginning from the end and that though that betrayal was hurtful, intentionally painful and eternally life-changing – Jesus knew what we know now, the betrayal was necessary for the blessing.
If Judas wouldn’t have betrayed Jesus, Jesus wouldn’t have been taken to be crucified on the cross a brutal death to pay for yours or my sins, nor would He supernaturally have had the chance to raise from the dead three days later and save us all from eternal damnation – the ultimate blessing.
The ultimate blessing of the Gospel was caused by the ultimate betrayal of one of Jesus’s closest companions.
This truth is so compelling me to me this Good Friday. Each year at Easter I ask God to show me something new, something fresh about the Gospel. About the ultimate story that changed my story. I never want it to just be a day on the calendar or a special event plan at my church – I want it to impact me differently, and even more deeply each and every year.
This year it was this. That no matter who, what, why, or when I feel betrayed – God’s blessing is ALWAYS around the corner. It may not be three days later – but it’s surely coming.
One last thing, though Jesus was fully God, yet fully man – the hurt and pain He felt after being betrayed by Judas was real and okay. There was probably a few brief moments where the flashbacks of memories of good times with Judas flashed through His mind just like it does with us.
You know what I’m talking about?
We repeat the good, trying so hard to lessen the pain of the bad. We play these memories like a song on repeat in our mind until one day – we play them a little less, and then eventually we stop playing them at all. Then even though the pain becomes a distant memory, we’re left with the scar nonetheless. Having learned the lesson and doing our best to be better prepared in the future, however also trying not to put up a wall to block out the good because we’re scared of the bad.
We can take the lesson from Jesus Himself, that we can move on and learn that even though betrayal happened in our past – acceptance and a miraculous blessing is in our future.
May you and I both stay grounded in the fact that in all things, God truly is working it all together for our good. There is no pain that is too hurtful or situation too far gone that Jesus can’t meet you there and comfort and heal. That’s the beauty of the Gospel – we share in the hurt and pain of the cross, but we rejoice in the resurrection just the same.
Happy Good Friday and Easter to you all.