Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“When Judas, His betrayer, saw that Jesus was condemned, Judas was afflicted in mind and troubled for his former folly; and with remorse (with little more than a selfish dread of the consequences) he brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders, saying, ‘I have sinned in betraying innocent blood.’ They replied, ‘What is that to us? See to that yourself.’”
Matthew 27: 3, 4
“The Guilt Problem:
Guilt Can Cause Me to End Up Hating Myself”
“Hate” – To feel great hostility or animosity toward another or myself.
“We can do nothing if we hate ourselves, or feel that all our actions are doomed to failure because of our own worthlessness.”
“I imagine that one of the reasons people cling to their hates so stubbornly is because they sense, once the hate is gone, they will be forced to deal with pain.”
He was bright. He was a leader. He handled money well. People looked up to him. And now, he had thrown his support behind the new Messiahfrom Nazareth. It looked like a good move on the part of two men. Jesus was busy ministering. Money was coming in to his ministry. Someone needed to handle the money. Judas Iscariot had the credentials. And so Judas became C.F.O. of Jesus, Inc. At least that’s how Judas saw it. The Scripture doesn’t tell us why Judas joined Jesus’ band of closest friends. Biblical students through the years have surmised that Judas may have been a zealot who, like many of the people of his day, had such a fierce hatred of Roman control the glimmer of hope provided by the throngs of people following Jesus, was enough to make this “man on a mission” believe the long-hoped-for Messiah had arrived.
For Judas though, it is quite apparent, his unity with Jesus was based on his expectations. Albeit, false expectations! First there was the expectation of wealth. The Bible tells us that people, including the women who followed Jesus, gave to Him “out of their means.” Of all the twelve disciples, Judas Iscariot was chosen, as the apostle John tells us, to “carry the bag.” Judas was the Treasurer. And with money comes another cohort in crime – power. Not that money and power in their own right are evil, they aren’t. However, in the hands of a man with a traitor’s heart, they can become tools of destruction.
There’s also something else about the expectations Judas had when he hitched his wagon to Jesus’ rising star. He may well have seen the money flowing toward Jesus. He certainly saw the crowds following Jesus. Now if Judas could only use his own abilities to help motivate this “people magnet,” Jesus, into the political arena, possibly big things could happen for both of them. He might end up being “CFO” of something much larger than a band of twelve renegades held together by the ministry of a vagabond from Galilee who was capable of performing amazing almost magical miracles.
You see, I think it was Judas’ expectations that got him into trouble. Especially those unmet expectations that tend to serve as great big stumbling blocks for all of us. We have plans. We have desires. We have dreams. And then things don’t happen just the way we think they should, so we strike out. We have to blame someone. It’s got to be somebody’s fault. And when we lash out, it is often at the person whom we feel has the power to “fix” things. Maybe it’s even ourselves. Or as in the case of Judas, his disillusionment was pointed right at Jesus.
It isn’t too hard to imagine Judas asking himself, “Why doesn’t this guy get it? He has such a following. He has such a talent for getting people to do what He asks. Why doesn’t He lead a revolution to fix this country? Why won’t He take on the Romans? What’s wrong with Him?” This could easily have been Judas’ first line of thinking. Unfortunately, his disillusionment was quickly followed by anger. Judas may well have been angry with himself for wasting his time and talents on a loser like Jesus who told everybody to, “love their enemies.” But Judas decided to direct his anger at the person he thought was really the “loser.” That person was Jesus. A Man who couldn’t recognize an opportunity when it was staring Him in the face.
If Jesus didn’t see potential, Judas did. He was shrewd. He knew a good deal when he saw one. So when the big boys at the Temple, the Chief Priest no less, asked for his help, Judas decided it was time to dump Jesus and get on board the train out of town. What’s more, if he helped the leaders force Jesus into a corner, just maybe, his act of bravery would serve as the catalyst to force Jesus to step-up to the plate and finally see all the potential that Judas saw.
And so, as John tells us, for 30 lousy pieces of silver, this follower, disciple, friend – betrayed the Man he was supposed to be looking out for.
But Judas’ disillusionment and anger were quickly followed by another even more venomous emotion – the guilt of a dirty deed that led to self-hatred. A hatred so great Judas couldn’t stand living with himself anymore.
The disciple John who loved Jesus with a never ending love, portrays a sordid picture of the night Jesus was betrayed by “one of his own.” This is John’s account: “(Jesus) was troubled in spirit, and testified, and said, ‘verily, verily, I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me… Now there was leaning on Jesus’ bosom one of His disciples, whom Jesus loved…he then lying on Jesus’ breast saith unto Him, ‘Lord, who is it?’ ‘He it is, to whom I shall give the sop (bread)’… (Jesus) gave it to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon. And after the sop (bread) Satan entered into him. Then said Jesus unto him, ‘That thou doest do quickly’…(Judas) having received the sop (bread) went immediately out; and it was night.” (John 13: 21 -30, K.J.V.). A few chapters later, John pens these painful words: “and Judas also, which betrayed Him, knew the place; for Jesus ofttimes resorted thither with His disciples. Judas then, having received a band of men and officers from the Chief Priests and Pharisees, cometh thither with lanterns and torches and weapons…and Judas also, which betrayed him, stood with them.” (John 18: 1-5, K.J.V.).
Hatred of Jesus, driven by the guilt in a betrayer’s heart led Judas to get up from a dinner table and go stand in the middle of a crowd of thugs and lead them to the “Man” who once called him a disciple.
As the Roman historian Tacitus wrote, “It belongs to human nature to hate those you have injured,” and we see this fact played out on the stage of Judas’ life.
How thankful I am, that even as dark and painful as some portions of Scripture are, God has let all the truth…all the facts…and all the story come out. Why? For our instruction! As I have learned from the journey of Judas, a man who walked in the footsteps of Jesus, we can all go off track if we get up from the “table of Jesus” and go out into the night alone. At the moment that Jesus turned to Judas with a piece of bread, Judas could have looked into the face of his Saviour and confessed. But his guilty heart was so steeled with hatred…the love of Jesus could no longer penetrate the shield of iron.
The Saviour…the Redeemer who a few hours later would forgive a condemned thief that everybody had given-up on, had to watch with tears in His eyes as one of His own circle stood up and walked away. A disciple who rather than sit at the table with Jesus ended up taking his stand with a crowd of sword carrying ruffians! From this tragic story about a man with a guilty, hatred-filled heart who ended up taking his own life, may you and I remember, it is never too late to lose our hate -- as long as we stay in the presence of Jesus.
The English missionary, Temple Gairdner wrote: “I won’t waste more time hating myself. The self that I hate…I leave on the Cross or in the tomb. And that which rises with (Christ) is a new self.”
During his lifetime, the great pastor and civil rights leader, Martin Luther King, Jr., experienced a great deal of hatred directed at himself and his family. These beautiful words paint a wonderful picture of the transforming love of Jesus which can melt the hatred in our lives.
“Hatred paralyzes life; love releases it
Hatred confuses life; love harmonizes it
Hatred darkens life; love illuminates it.”
Martin Luther King, Jr.
“The Last Supper -- The First Eucharist,
Miserable and majestic moment.
Who believed it to be the last?
Who knew their lives would never
again be the same?
Jesus knew. So did Judas Iscariot,
Judas the Betrayer, Judas the greedy one.
Thirty pieces of silver.
Did they seem so much
After that kiss in Gethsemane,
The awful betrayal complete?
Bad Judas! Shameful Judas!
Tsk! Tsk! Judas! Die, Judas!
My hand is in the betrayal.
I know Judas, my co-conspirator.
Recoiling from such thought,
I cannot get away.
I play my tragic part daily
In the betrayal of Jesus.
Jesus incarnate in the world and in others
Is betrayed daily by me
When I choose to ignore
Or, blinded by selfish concerns,
I do not see him in others.
I pass by the One who saves me.
Sometimes while in the very pursuit of him
I pass him by.
Forgive me and heal my vision, Lord,
So that I can see You
As I ought – in the world,
In others, and in myself.
Mrs. Gretchen Olheiser
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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