Lord Jesus, I offer praise to You. I need to learn from Your example, the meaning of selfless giving and servanthood.
Consider: "See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily" (Heb. 3:12,13). This is a much better alternative than the choice Judas made.
Once the decision to have Jesus executed had been made, Judas was of no interest to the chief priests--though his return of the blood money caused them moral embarrassment when the condemnation of an innocent man had not. Matthew allows us to contrast Peter's failure with that of Judas. Under extreme circumstances, Peter failed to keep his promise to be faithful to Jesus. Judas made a deliberate choice to betray him for money (26:14,15). Peter was warned that he would fail and did not believe it. Judas actively looked for the opportunity to betray (26:16). At the Last Supper Jesus gave Judas a severe warning about the consequences of his choices, which he ignored (26:23,24). There and in Gethsemane he addressed Jesus as Rabbi, when the others called him Lord (26:25,49). In his heart he had turned away from Jesus. Too late, he acknowledged the enormity of his actions and took his own life.
What can we learn from Judas? It will not do to treat him as the one utterly evil villain of the story. The responsibility for Jesus' innocent blood is shared by all the characters in the passion narrative, despite their best attempts to evade it. Matthew's point is that we all share that guilt and all need the forgiveness of sins through the cross. Nor is it that the cross is not big enough to cover Judas's sin. We are told of the end of his physical life, not his eternal destiny, which is in God's hands.
Perhaps the challenge for us all is that it may be possible so to set our hearts against Christ, and to act accordingly, that we become trapped in the consequences of our decisions and capable only of remorse, while unable to repent. Perhaps or perhaps not, but the warning is clear.
Have you ever felt you were beyond redemption? To whom did you turn? Both Peter and Judas caved in under pressure. History has treated them differently. Why?
Merciful Lord, I am daily dependent upon Your sustaining and forgiving grace. Help me to keep short accounts with You.
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