As the new year approaches and the pagan holiday turned Christian (whatever that means) aka Christmas has passed, a lot of sentiment is passed around.
Why Iscariot? Perhaps because for me, the picture of Judas Iscariot is most appropriate for this time of year. It’s a rather graphic image, not for the faint of heart or certainly not for the heart that craves comfort, it challenges anyone with their eyes truly open.
The name known synonymously for betrayal. The man no one wants to admit they’ve related to, or even felt sorry for.
I’ve been reading a wondrous work of historical fiction based around his life. It’s rather uncomfortable to imagine Judas whole heartedly pledging his life to the long awaited Messiah. I’ll be honest, it’s rather difficult to read for the same reason most historical accounts are- I already know the end. Rather, his end.
Why is it so uncomfortable?
Perhaps the same reason we find comfort in the regular Christmas traditions. They’re a bit glossed over, it’s not pleasing to talk about the real story, it’s not cozy and there are certainly no warm feelings attached to Judas splayed on the ground after his suicide. In all truth and honesty, it’s painful. It’s comfortable to remember baby Jesus, but don’t talk too much about him being spat on and beaten, not right now anyway.
But why? Why is it painful to think of a man who lived and died thousands of years ago? Perhaps that’s just it.
Living and dying isn’t that great a feat, after all. All of us do it, or will. That’s what makes Jesus so wonderful, isn’t it?
2 Timothy 1:10 but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.
But there’s someone who didn’t overcome death, and that is Judas. In the darkest hour, he gave in.
Will you be faithful to the end? Maybe that’s the real question. Judas was considered a faithful disciple, and when I read the account of his calling, as given flesh in the fictional history novel written by Tosca Lee, it brought me to tears. To think that Judas Iscariot was once given the call, the very same call extended to us and many after our time,
“Come, follow me.”
To realize he also had a life to leave behind, doubts to overcome, and the very remorse of his betrayal that led to committing suicide in the end, it’s not comfortable at all. The love God extends is unconditional, and to imagine Jesus’ pain in calling him friend, in teaching Judas and training him, knowing the end result is an example far above our own love.
The parallel of Peter’s denial at the same time shines hope, though he also betrayed Jesus verbally and abandoned him with the rest of the disciples, he returned and spoke boldly until his death of the One who called him.
And so I say again, will you be faithful to the end?
Matthew 27:3 When Judas, who had betrayed him, saw that Jesus was condemned, he was seized with remorse and returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders.
Matthew 26:75 Then Peter remembered the word Jesus has spoken: “Before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.” And he went outside and wept bitterly.
I share the thoughts of the author of this particular version of Judas’ life, to realize that humans rarely set on a course intending to betray or go down in history as a villain, perhaps he felt justified, or he thought he was doing what was best. Sin is a blinding trap that almost always seems right, keep your eyes open and check your heart.
2 Corinthians 7:10 Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.
I pray this can serve as an example, for there is certainly hope.
Happy New Year.