September 14th, 2015 Posted in sermons | 1 Comment »
Was Judas a misunderstood victim?
“So close, yet so far.” That phrase is a perfect description of the life of Judas Iscariot. One of the privileged Twelve, Judas walked with Jesus daily, listened to His words, and saw His miracles firsthand. And yet, despite being so close to Jesus, Judas was perhaps the most wicked man who ever lived on earth, betraying Him for thirty pieces of silver.
An article in New Yorker magazine titled “Betrayal” asks the question, “Should we hate Judas Iscariot?” The article states,
Did Judas deserve this fate? If Jesus informs you that you will betray him, and tells you to hurry up and do it, are you really responsible for your act? Furthermore, if your act sets in motion the process—Christ’s Passion—whereby humankind is saved, shouldn’t somebody thank you? No, the Church says. If you betray your friend, you are a sinner, no matter how foreordained or collaterally beneficial your sin. And, if the friend should happen to be the Son of God, so much the worse for you!
Is the New Yorker right? Have we misunderstood Judas?
No. Just because God brought good out of Judas’ acts, doesn’t mean they are justified. And just because God foreknew that Judas would betray Him, doesn’t mean Judas had no choice in the matter.
Judas was no victim. He wanted to betray Jesus. He initiated it. He did it for money. Judas was not just a passive tool of Providence.
He made his choice, and then his choice made him.
Now, was Judas tempted by Satan to perform this betrayal? Yes he was. But just as when you or I are tempted to sin, Judas had the choice to resist. 1 Corinthians 10:13 tells us that God, who is faithful, does not allow us to face temptation without also providing a means of escape.
How could Judas be so close, and yet so far?
In spite of all the exposure Judas had to Jesus’ teachings, His compassion, His loving actions, and His friendship, Judas chose unbelief. And just as Pharaoh hardened his heart against the Lord, and the Lord strengthened that resolve, God allowed Judas to harden his heart as well.
There is a danger in being close to God but not accepting Him.
Are you playing the game? Are you pretending to be a Christian, but are not genuine in your faith? God offers you friendship and forgiveness, just as He did for Judas. Don’t pass it up!
To learn more about what it means to be a true follower of Jesus, go to Know God.org.