Can You Identify with Judas?

Have you ever betrayed a friend?

Can you identify with the bargain that Judas made? Have you ever decided that something else was better than Jesus? I’m not referring to inadvertent mistakes but to moments when one knows what God requires, knows what God has commanded, and chooses something else instead.

What is it in your life that you prefer to Jesus?

That’s what came down to for Judas. He decided that the money he would gain by turning Jesus over was better than all it will cost him to stay with Jesus. The authorities would appreciate him. Public opinion would shift in his favor. He would be viewed as a hero. If he stayed with Jesus, all the people who mattered in Jerusalem would continue to feel disdain for him. If he turned Jesus over to them, they would lionize him. Judas Iscariot would be known and appreciated by the Jerusalem elite. He would be famous. He would be (anachronism coming) the darling of the media. He would be a man of interest. They would surely conclude that he was a man with the fortitude to see the error of his way, recognize how dangerous Jesus was to Israel, and do the right thing without regard for his emotional and personal connection to Jesus.

Can you understand and identify with the temptation that faced Judas?

Rather than stay with the wonder worker who started with great promise but then did all the wrong things and spent all his time with these bumbling Galileans, Judas changed sides.

Do you identify with Judas?

At least we can understand the rationale for what he did. We can sympathize with him and understand him.

One of the most insidious things that literature, tv shows, and movies do is enable us to sympathize with people who do evil things. They get us emotionally wrapped up with a character. They show us why a character chose a certain course of action. They can even make that course of action seem inevitable, given who the character is and how his life has gone.

Some writers and artists manipulate their audience into calling good evil and evil good.

The fact that we can understand Judas and identify with him should not make us feel any less revulsion at the evil he has done.

We need to understand Judas, to see how he could have done what he did and why he did what he did, not to diminish our sense of right and wrong, not to call good evil and evil good, but because we must recognize recognize how we, too, could do evil like what Judas did.

It is evil because Jesus is in the right and God is with Jesus. Judas betrayed Jesus and he betrayed God.

We could fall in the same way. How do we respond to the ways that we can identify with Judas?

We pray for God to make us love righteousness and hate wickedness. We pray that God will keep us faithful to him and his Messiah, to our wives and children. We pray that God will give us moral clarity. We pray that God would cause us to feel even more horrified than we already are by the abominable profanity of the insidious and subversive and treacherous nature of evil.

On Sunday, July 3, it was my privilege to preach the passage in Mark that depicts Judas’ betrayal of Jesus, Mark 14:26–52, “Jesus Stands Alone,” at Kenwood Baptist Church. The audio is here.

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