Wednesday, March 30, 2016


As we consider the story of Judas, the remaining eleven disciples, and what Jesus had to say - or did not have to say - about the fate of this betrayer, it might be easy to think that a post entitled "Judged" will have a lot to do with what happened to Judas after he died. What happened when he came face-to-face with Jesus again. What Jesus might have said to him.

But this is only part of the story, and it's the easy part.

I think Jesus had much the same thing to say to Judas that He has to say to all of us - I love you. I know. I know. I know.... Because the contrite betrayer, who was so torn up over what he had done that he took his own life, probably had the same things to say to Jesus that we do - I'm sorry. I am so sorry. I am so sorry. Lord.... And I imagine in this exchange, there's probably some of what we saw in Joseph's story, as well. Joseph, you remember, was reunited with his scheming brothers in Egypt when they came to him for food during the famine. They begged his mercy, apologized, begged more of his mercy. And he made one of the most powerful statements in all of Scripture - what you intended for evil, God intended for good. It's okay. Can't you just see this type of thing taking place between Judas and Jesus, these two "brothers" in faith who shared three good years of ministry together?

That's the easy part. That's who Jesus is. We don't have to imagine what that might have been like, for we know the heart of the Lord. This is it.

The harder part is what happens next. 

Because Jesus said his disciples would be judges, that the reason there were twelve disciples is because there were twelve tribes, and these disciples would join Him in heaven and sit in the seats of judgment over the tribes. When the eleven remaining disciples on earth chose a twelfth to replace the betrayer, they likely had much of this idea in mind. They were twelve for a reason; they needed to still be twelve. 

It probably never occurred to them that they already were.

As much as Judas "gave up" his position among the twelve in many of our human minds, he did not do so in God's mind. The Redeemer does not write persons off so easily. Jesus did not come and die so that we could damn ourselves for eternity. He came that we might have life, that we might be restored, that we might be whole again. Betrayers included. Sinners included. You included. Me included. Which means...

Judas is still one of the twelve. He is still one of the judges.

Can you conceive of this? Can you imagine? It's hard enough for us to imagine Jesus eating His last meal around a table with the man who is about to go out and betray Him. It's hard for us to conceive of this idea that Jesus broke bread and shared it with Judas. How are we supposed to imagine that when we get to Heaven and enter into the presence of the hosts and look up at the twelve seats, there is going to be a betrayer in one of them? Right there! Judas himself! Not merely a betrayer, but the betrayer.

Can you imagine being judged by the betrayer?

It doesn't seem fair, right? Jesus, this man has no right to speak of me. He sold You out for thirty tiny pieces of silver! But I think this is the story of the adulterous woman all over again. We come, ready to condemn the betrayer, but it is he who is in a position to condemn us. And he does so by our own words. For the minute that we declare him a betrayer, we are brought to face our own sin, as well. And it turns out, we are all betrayers. 

I am Judas.

And all of a sudden, we stand face-to-face with grace. For if there is a place for him, there is a place for all of us.

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