Saturday, May 13, 2006

Sucks to Be Judas: Prelude to a Post

Back when I was in High School and Jr. High school, there was a saying we commonly employed for addressing our peers when a circumstance of undesirable consequence occurred in their life: Sucks to be you! Probably not the most compassionate nor mature observation, but no one ever accused of such conduct (mature and compassionate, that is). In thinking through an upcoming post I was intending to do on some issues pertaining to the Lord's supper, I thought it would be profitable to read through the pertinent passages (hence the subtitle of this post).

Of course I started (albeit anachronistically) in 1 Corinthians 11 since it is so frequently read at communion services in the churches I have attended. I next moved to John 13 where my attention was drawn to Judas. I have often envisioned the Lord's identification of his betrayer at the last supper as a sort of vague ambiguous insinuation or innuendo, since the other eleven don't seem to pick up on what's going on. However, Jesus is ANYTHING but vague:

John 13:24-26
Simon Peter motioned to this disciple and said, "Ask him which one he means." 25 Leaning back against Jesus, he asked him, "Lord, who is it?" 26 Jesus answered, "It is the one to whom I will give this piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish." Then, dipping the piece of bread, he gave it to Judas Iscariot, son of Simon.

I thought, "Wow, that's pretty clear." Then I read: John 13:27 As soon as Judas took the bread, Satan entered into him. "What you are about to do, do quickly," Jesus told him. At this point, Jesus shows him no compassion, but says, "Get it over with." Next I turned to Matthew only to read:

Matthew 26:23-25 Jesus replied, "The one who has dipped his hand into the bowl with me will betray me. 24 The Son of Man will go just as it is written about him. But woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man! It would be better for him if he had not been born." 25 Then Judas, the one who would betray him, said, "Surely not I, Rabbi?" Jesus answered, "Yes, it is you."

Here, Matthew records the manner in which Jesus says He will identify His betrayer. Though the scenario is not recorded identical to how John has it, I think the passages are complementary rather than contradictory. In fact, I would suggest that Matthew 26:25 probably occurs chronologically in the discussion between John 13:25 and 26. Jesus has indicated it is Judas; Judas, ever the hypocrite, feigns surprise (I would suggest to mask his terror at this point) and says, "who me?" to which Jesus responds, "Yes, you!" Now remember, this interchange was prefaced by the statement from the Lord that it would have been better for the one who betrayed Him if the betrayer had never been born (v.24)! Then He says, in effect, "Yes Judas, I'm talking about you!" I can't help but speculate (and it is nothing more than my speculation) that as He was rendering this indictment, Jesus may have been thinking something to the effect of It would have been better if you hadn't been born, because I am/will be your judge. You will answer to me and I will damn you for all eternity.

Needless to say, I had read enough for the day and I didn't make it to Luke or Mark (and if my memory serves me, neither of them identify this interchange anyway). But the first phrase to enter my mind was: Wow. Sucks to be Judas! Now please, don't be easily offended by my transparent admition of the inner workings of my twisted mind.

1) I apologize if the word "sucks" bothers you; my goal is not to offend. Though I don't consider it to be blogan (refer to the previous post if you don't know what that means), it is possible some do.

2) I am not trying to trivialize the seriousness of what took place that night almost 2000 years ago. To the contrary, I saw things through Judas' eyes for the first time this past Friday. Can you imagine hearing those words from the mouth of the Lord directed at you? Man, I don't even know what to say, except to praise God for His relentless grace in my life.

3) Even if the phrase above is a bit off color, I have no problem employing it on the son of perdition, the betrayer of the Christ. His fate is sealed; God is entirely sovereign and he is entirely responsible and accountable. I would have no problem spitting in his face and cheering in the face of his destruction on the day of Judgment, should the Lord allow. If that sounds harsh, know that it stems not from an arrogant spirit of judgment, but rather a passionate zeal for and delight in His glory.

Thus endeth the sermon. More to follow on communion.

5 comments:

dwilson said...

Nate,
I enjoyed your insight about Judas. One thing that is a bit interesting about the passover and betrayal is the fact that Christ actually ate and dined with Judas before he betrayed him.
If I was having a gathering of people I definately wouldn't invite one who would betray me to death...that is if I knew they would betray me.
As Judas was confronted by Christ I can't help to think how great of self control Christ had, and love he had for those he was about to die for. Even this short time before his death, the temptation that Christ faced had to be extremly difficult.
What a grea Savior!

Luther's Stein said...

Wow!

David Hayton said...

Yes, Wow! The only difference between Judas & me is sheer grace & free, infinite mercy!

J said...

I think Jesus' earthly relationship with Judas is a beautiful picture of true love and unity. He knew all that Judas was, and all that he would do in betraying him and yet there was no hint in Jesus' behaviour that would identify the betrayer to the rest of the apostles. (When He told them one would betray him, they didn't know which one it would be) That is "tolerating one another in love" and "being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace".

NWMihelis said...

J:

Jesus explicit statements (several cited in my post)did identify the betrayer; the disciples simply didn't get it. While I appreciate your sentiment, there was no unity of the Spirit between Jesus and Judas, since as the text indicates, Judas was indwelt by Satan instead.