BEFORE YOU BEGIN TODAY, take a few moments to quiet your mind and prepare your heart to receive God’s Word.
"God today may the eyes of my heart be enlightened, that I may know the hope to which you havecalled me" Amen.
47 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. 48 Now the betrayer had arranged a signal with them: “The one I kiss is the man; arrest him.” 49 Going at once to Jesus, Judas said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” and kissed him.
50 Jesus replied, “Do what you came for, friend.”
Then the men stepped forward, seized Jesus and arrested him.
"What are you willing to give me if I deliver him over to you?", asks Judas (Matthew 26:14).
It is the question that sets in motion an action by Judas that will ultimately come to define his life. “Betrayer!” “Back stabber”, as we say today.” Let us get the scene in our minds. As Jesus in agony wrestles with his Father’s will, and disciples lie exhausted around him, Judas Iscariot is looking for his moment. He is watching and waiting, and the deed of his betrayal is approaching. Judas enters the garden that night, surrounded by a large crowd armed with swords and clubs (v.47),and betrays Jesus with a kiss, it is easy to feel angry, furious, outraged and incensed toward him. Wouldn’t you agree? Have you ever been betrayed by someone you deeply cared for? How did you feel in that moment? About that person? About yourself? About God? Is there anything you still need to resolve? Is there any healing you still need to seek?
Let us face it if you have been betrayed or wounded by the actions or words of people around you, Judas is a “trigger” point for us. I mean, think about this, Judas had heard and received the same message as all other followers of Jesus.
Here is a man who was called by Jesus and filled with power and authority (Luke 9:1).
A man who gave up everything to follow the Messiah (Luke 6:16).
A man who, for three years walked every road with Jesus; hearing his finest teachings (Matthew 5-7) and witnessing incredible, wide-ranging miracles (Mark 6:30-34, Luke 7:11-17).
A man who was sent out with the other eleven to do these same incredible things (Luke 9:2).
A man trusted to manage their money (John 12:6).
Yet, despite all of this: here Judas is choosing to turn his back on the one who is the hope of all the world. We ask ourselves, don’t we? Why would he do it? Greed? Disillusionment that Jesus wasn't the Messiah he grew up expecting? Fear for his future?
Whatever his reason was, I believe we all would agree, he made the biggest and most tragic mistake any person has ever made. We live and worship Jesus in a world that seeks to draw us away from him with many distractions. I can tell you from my own experience, the distractions appear satisfying in the moment but soon we quickly discover, as Judas did with his bag of coins, that they are not. And here is where we find incredibly good news for us. Though sadly, Judas yielded and fell to his own impulse and decision, we live in the light of a God’s mercy and grace: a mercy that is freely available to us no matter our past or how terrible our sin may be. A mercy and grace that exceeds judgment and gives us a “New Beginning” as we seek to remain rooted in Christ, guarding our hearts by his Word and Spirit.