ENCOUNTERS WITH JESUS

JUDAS

 

He was one of the Twelve. For three years he had walked with Jesus. For three years he had witnessed the miracles of Jesus, demonstrations of his divine authority and power. For three years he had listened to the words of Jesus, affirmations of his divine being, challenges to faith and obedience.

He was in the group Jesus sent through the towns and villages to preach the kingdom of God. But, although he was physically one of the twelve disciples, spiritually he did not belong. Jesus knew all along that Judas did not really believe: that what looked like faith and commitment was just an outward veneer.

Jesus said of him: 'Have I not chosen you, the Twelve? Yet one of you is a devil!' And later, to the twelve disciples: 'you are clean, though not every one of you.'

The history of Judas records an extended encounter with Jesus, an encounter in which the opportunity to repent and believe was consistent and sustained. Here is a man, one of only twelve, who spent three solid years with Jesus Christ, yet failed and refused to believe his claims to be God in human flesh.

His failure and his facade stand as a warning to each of us to make sure our faith is genuine.

Not all that looks like faith, or claims to be faith, is actually faith. John recorded that 'many people saw the miraculous signs that he was doing and believed in his name. But Jesus would not entrust himself to them, for he knew all men ... he knew what was in a man.' Jesus also said: 'Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.'

Yet, for Judas, there was one last chance to believe, one last encounter with Jesus. As he approached Jesus, intending to give him the identifying kiss, Jesus asked: 'Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?'

Even as he was being betrayed Jesus reached out in love, reminding Judas one last time who he really is: the 'Son of Man', the glorious, eternal Lord of all, who receives the worship of men from all nations, and whose dominion and kingdom is everlasting and indestructible.

This betrayal could not destroy the Son of Man, but it could destroy Judas, the one who betrayed him. It was, for Judas, the final encounter, the final word. To each of us will come, one day, a similarly final opportunity, beyond which the possibility of repentance no longer exists.

Scriptures: Luke 22:47-48; John 2:23-25; 6:70;13:10b; Matthew 7:21-23; Daniel 7:13-14; Hebrews 4:7; 9:27.

Copyright Rosemary Bardsley 2004,2009