Golgotha Bound #5
* [THEME] Betrayal. Everyone one of us has experienced betrayal. Sadly, we’ve all been guilty of it Judas betrayed Jesus with a kiss. Unfortunately, Judas provides a mirror into the souls of each of the disciples and into each of us. The betrayal could have come from any one of the disciples; just as betrayal can come from any one of us, whether we want to admit it or not. Betrayal. That’s what we’re going to be looking at today. Why did he do it? What were the consequences? What do we do when it happens to us?
Back in the 1930’s there was a tough running back for the Chicago Bears named Bronko Nagurski. During one especially brutal game against the Washingotn Redskins, Bronco broke four tackles on the way to the goal line, by knocking two linebackers in opposite directions, stomping a defensive halfback and crushing a safety. He then hit the goal post, spun around and ran into the brick wall just outside the end zone. Dazed and wobbly, he hobbled back into the huddle and said, “Boy, that last guy sure hit me awfully hard!”
Betrayal is like being blind-sided by a brick wall. When you least expect it, Bam! You’re knocked for a loop. You can become disoriented and confused because it’s usually someone you’ve trusted. That’s why it hurts so much. We’ve all been betrayed. We all know what that feels like.
In the Movie The Lion, The Witch and Wardrobe based on the series of books, The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis. The basics of the story are that four London children are sent to a professor’s country home for their protection during World War II. While there they find a magic wardrobe that leads to a mystical land called Narnia, where the myths of old like the centaur and dwarves are a reality, where the animals themselves talk. But Narnia is being ruled by an evil witch. To defeat the witch, these Sons and Adam and Daughters of Eve must join forces with Aslan, the lion God of Narnia.
For the uninitiated, Aslan represents Christ. Through a rather perilous journey, three of the four children make it to Aslan’s camp and must report that their brother Edmund has betrayed them.
Aslan welcoms them by name, “Welcome Peter, Son of Adam. Welcome Susan and Lucy, Daughters of Eve. But where’s the fourth?” At first they tell Aslan that they have lost Edmund. But then the Beavers tell Aslan that Edmund betrayed them and has joined with the White Witch.
Peter, the oldest brother, begins to explain and says: “It was my fault really. I was too hard on him.”
Then Susan says, “We all were.”
Lucy, the youngest says, “But Edmund’s our brother.” To which Aslan replies, “I know, dear one, but that only makes the betrayal all the worse.”
A. Betrayal IS always hard, but when it comes from someone we love, someone we trust, that’s what makes it so much harder. We know a little of what Jesus felt that night. It was hard for him. It hurt. Judas was a trusted member of the Jesus’ inner core or 12. Judas was called to follow just like Peter, James, John and the rest. He was obviously trusted because he carried the common purse. He was the secretary/treasurer of this close knit brotherhood of faith which Jesus had formed.
Why did he do it? Some people suggest it was the money. I’m not sure that’s the case because when he realized what he had done, he tried to give the money back. According to one website, if you convert the value of the 30 pieces of silver to dollars and adjust for inflation over the last 2,000 years, it comes to the about $250,000. That’s not a paltry sum. Most sites place the amount somewhere around 25 to $40,000, which isn’t chump change. Either way, I don’t think it was the money since he tossed it back.
Some suggest that Jesus knew Judas was flawed from the very beginning and was marked from the very beginning as the betrayer. I don’t believe that. I don’t believe in predestination. Besides all of the disciples were flawed, that’s one of the main reasons they were chosen. Jesus wanted to show that you didn’t have to be perfect to loved by God or saved by God. Jesus called and chose the least likely people to show how great God’s gace and love truly are. And what God’s grace could and would do for anyone and everyone, no matter how flawed and imperfect.
I think each of the disciples were equally capable of betraying Jesus. And I believe they each had their own opportunity. The difference between Judas and the others is that I don’t think Judas truly gave himself completely to Christ. He held part of himself and part of his belief system back.
The reason I say that is because, in the end, in final self centered act of suicide, Judas didn’t believe he could be forgiven for what he had done. Even though Judas walked everyday with Jesus and heard Jesus preach about the forgiveness God offered; even though Judas saw how Jesus reached out to the complete outcasts, the broken, the disenfranchised, the prostitutes and sinners; even though Judas saw what Jesus did for Matthew, the former Tax Collector, Zacheus, the woman caught in adultery, the lepers, the demoniacs and all the other untouchable and forgotten people; Judas didn’t believe that the salvation offered by Jesus was for him.
II. JUDAS WAS WRONG:
A. I think Judas was wrong. Later in the Movie, “The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe,” Edmund realizes that he had done wrong. He acted selfishly, he let his vanity and his appetites get the best of him, he deserted his brother and sisters, he betrayed Aslan and all of Narnia but in the end, like the prodigal son of the parable, “He came to himself.” And he repented. That word repent literally means to “turn away from” or “turn around’ or reverse direction and do a 180.
That’s what Edmund did. He came to Aslan, the Lion King, the Christ figure, and repented. And when he did everything changed. WATCH.
In this scene, you see Edmund, head bowed in contrition before the regal figure of Aslan the Lion. The others see him. Lucy would have gone running to him but Peter stops her. Peter realizes osme very important is going on between Aslan and Edmund.
When Edmund and Aslan make their way to the others, Peter, Susan and Lucy welcome him back with open arms. They accepted him without hesitation because Aslan had accepted him. Aslan decreed: “What’s done is done. There is no need to speak to Edmund about what is past.”
I think Judas was wrong. He didn’t think he could be forgiven. Judas closed doors which I believe had been left open. He left the gifts of forgiveness and mercy unopened and undiscovered. He shut himself off from every promise Jesus had made. He cut himself off from the True Vine, closed his heart in the darkness of his guilt without letting the Light of the World, the Light of Christ shine on him; he starved himself of the bread of life.
Peter could have done that, too. He could have cut himself off from Jesus and all he had witnessed and heard because he denied even knowing Jesus, not once but three times. But he didn’t. He remembered the promises. He surrendered himself completely to Christ. When it came time to see the Risen Christ, he might have hesitated and thought it was too good to be true, but Peter ran to the tomb to see for himself. When he found out it was Jesus on the beach in Galilee that morning, Peter dove into the water and swam as fast as he could to the shore line. Why? Because Peter remembered the promises, he remembered the light, he remembered the vine and he didn’t want to be cut off from the very bread of life. Peter knew that Judas was wrong.
B. And because Judas was wrong, his name has become synonymous with betrayal. I’ve never heard of anyone naming their son Judas, even though in the time of Christ it was a very popular and respected name. But not any longer because just the mention of the name Judas implies betrayal. Even people who don’t know the Biblical story of Judas, know what a Judas is. The goat which leads lambs and sheep to slaughter is called a Judas goat. Do you realize that once the death of Judas is explained in the book of Acts and Matthias is voted in to take his place, Judas is never mentioned again. Never.
But then neither is Peter’s denial. The difference is that Peter’s sin was forgiven and forgotten. And Judas, because of his sin and his unrepentant nature, it was Judas himself who was forgotten. You see, Judas was wrong.
Years ago I read a story which changed my whole understanding of the depth of the forgiveness Jesus offers to us. It helped me understand the fullness of the promises Jesus made and how eternal those promises are if we believe and accept that they were made for us.
It’s just a story because it takes place at the end of time. Gabriel’s trumpet has sounded. Judgment Day has come and gone. It’s just Peter and Jesus standing at the Pearly gates. Peter has closed one side of the gates, he has the keys in one hand and his other hand slowly pulling the other gate closed. But Jesus is standing just outside the gate, looking off in the distance.
The eternal celebration has begun. The crowds of those headed to the Messianic Banquet at the foot of God’s throne are already over the hill. You can just barely hear the revelry and with every second the sound of the heavenly resurrection celebration gets dimmer and dimmer. Still, Jesus stands outside the gate looking off into the distance. Peter waits for awhile but then clears his throat.
“Lord, it’s time to go.”
Jesus sighs and says, “I know.” But still he waits and looks.
The heavenly multitude can barely be heard now. Peter’s started to get worried and he implores, “Lord, it’s time. I have to lock the gates.” But still Jesus doesn’t budge.
Peter walks out, gently takes Jesus’ arm in his and asks, “Who are you looking for, Lord? Who are you waiting for?” Jesus sighs and as they turn to go through the gates, He looks over His shoulder one more time and says, “My friend, Judas.”
Judas was wrong. That means that if you’ve ever thought that what you have done in your life is so bad that you can’t be forgiven, just like Judas, you’re wrong.
If you think your lifestyle has been so wrong that God could never love you, just like Judas, you’re wrong.
If you think you are so far gone, or so estranged from God that you could never get back or that God doesn’t want you back, just like Judas, you’re wrong.
Jesus said “God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son so that whoever believes in him might not perish but have eternal life.” If Judas was right, then that makes Jesus a liar and negates everything that has been preached for the last 2000 years. Judas was wrong.
But hear the Good News, “Our Lord, and Savior, Jesus Christ died for us while we yet sinners and that proves God’s love for us.” In the name of Jesus the Christ, your sins are forgiven. Amen
The gift is yours. Now open it.
This is the Word of the Lord for this day.