INSPIRE Series: Judas Encounter: A Sideline Easter Story (by Sarah Yoder)




This week is Holy Week. More specifically, today is Maundy Thursday, tomorrow is Good Friday and everyone knows that Easter is this Sunday.

For some, Easter means candy, new dresses and family dinners. For Christians worldwide, it's a time to celebrate God's ultimate plan of reconciling humanity back to himself through the sacrifice of His Son.  I'm going to go out on a limb and assume that almost everyone who will read this post knows the traditional Easter story, so today, I want to talk about a sideline to the Easter story.  I want to talk about a man named Judas.

If you have a Bible handy, grab it and turn to the gospel of John. This time of year most pastors, priests and ministers are preaching somewhere out of John chapter(s) 13 - 20. If that's where you turned that's fine. Hold you place their but flip back a few pages to John chapter 12. If you're not familiar, this is the story of the woman who washes the feet of Jesus with expensive perfume and dries his feet with her hair. Jesus was eating a meal at the home of Lazarus, (the guy who just one chapter earlier Jesus had raised from the dead.) I know what you're thinking...I thought we were talking about Judas? Well, we are, check out verse 4 of chapter 12.


But one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray Him, objected,  “Why wasn't this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages."  He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it.  -John 12:4


This verse tells us a few things: 
1. Judas was a thief.
2. Jesus knew it.
3. Even being a thief, Jesus let him hang around...and not just hang around, but actually be a part of His ministry.  Judas was the treasurer.

Still have your Bibles? Flip back to chapter 13. This is the beginning of the story of the Last Supper.  The Bible tells us that the disciples were all gathered. 
All the disciples. 
All the disciples, including that thief, Judas. 

As the story goes on we see that Jesus begins to wash the feet of the disciples as a symbol of servant-hood and the spiritual cleansing that His death would ultimately offer them.
He washes the feet of all the disciples. 
All the disciples, including that thief, Judas. 

One of the final events of the evening is when Jesus, for the first time, serves the disciples what we would know today as communion. 
He served communion to all the disciples. 
All the disciples, including that thief, Judas.

(You can read another account of this over in Luke chapter 22)

As I read through the accounts of the interactions that Jesus had with Judas, I'm left scratching my head. My selfish human mind has a hard time understanding how a man like this could be chosen and welcomed into the community of Jesus' ministry. It's  scary sometimes how easy it is for us to draw lines in the sand of who's in and who's out...who's okay and who needs to be kept at a distance...who's behavior we can live with and who's we can't tolerate.

Of course, we know how this Judas story ends, and at the time so did Jesus. Judas was the man who, in the end, gave Jesus up to the Roman authorities to be crucified. Jesus knew he would. Jesus knew he would, even when he originally chose him to be a disciple. If you're like me, that's a little hard to reconcile... until I remember how much of the ministry of Jesus was devoted to the teaching of "loving our enemies". 

If Judas wasn't Jesus' enemy, I don't know who was and yet Jesus loved him. 
Jesus ate with him. 
Jesus traveled with him.
Jesus did ministry with him. 
Jesus washed his feet. 
He even served him communion. 

I don't know about you, but that's powerful stuff.  It's stuff that calls us to look at people in a way that might be hard for us to reconcile... until we remember how much of the ministry of Jesus was devoted to the teaching of "loving our enemies". 

Can you think of people who, like Judas, you might believe are too:
Hateful
Dishonest
Lewd
Selfish
Wicked
Whatever... {fill in your own irredeemable quality}

Is there a Judas in your life that God is calling YOU to encounter like Christ did? Now, don't misunderstand me. I'm not in any way defending the man Judas was or the wicked choices he made. I'm would simply suggest that, based on the example that Christ gives us, no persons actions, no matter how wicked, should determine how we treat them in return...how we love them. 

My prayer, for us all, as we continue to look forward to the Easter Holiday this week is not only to celebrate the life/death/resurrection of Jesus Christ but to strive to find ways, each and every day, to live our own lives modeled after His. 
Thanks for letting me share my heart with you today! 
Be Blessed!


About the author:
 


Sarah is a creative designer, speaker and consultant. Plain and simple, she loves creating beautiful things, whether that means reclaiming a discarded furniture piece and giving it new life, repurposing found treasures from garage sales and flea markets or creating digital art, the goal is to inspire by finding and reclaiming the beauty in life. Keep up with all her projects over at her blog, The Linley House.


 

8 comments:

  1. This is just so powerful, Aleks. It also encourages me to know that Jesus included Judas in His Ministry knowing how sin-soaked he was... We as Christians need to include ALL people in our Ministry. Just as Jesus did.

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  2. So encouraging Sarah. Perfect word for me today :)

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  3. I always struggle with the story of the crucifixion - being so mad that Judas would do that but then smacking myself because without what happened we'd have no hope. That God used someone like Judas to save us all (in a roundabout way). (and I just realized I'm on your sidebar...thank you!! xo)

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  4. (um duh, now I remember why I'm on your sidebar...blonde moment!)

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  5. God spoke right through Sarah when she wrote this. I am beyond elated that she chose this post to share with my blog. What a message, am I right?

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  6. Isn't it wonderful how Jesus knew, the entire time, that Judas was betraying him. HE knew exactly how it was going to play out and yet there was no animosity, no negative words, just love. Just pure love and forgiveness.

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  7. Oh you are SO RIGHT!!! Amazing. It spoke to my heart so deeply- and I LOVE her beautiful and insightful take on this side-story. What a MESSAGE!!! I want it OUT THERE. :)

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  8. This post cut to my core. Thank you for the reminder that we are called to love everyone, even the hard prickly people. This also reminded me that I can be hard and prickly. Thank you for reminding me that God can redeem the nonredeemable and that I need to be an extension of him in this instance and every instance.

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Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever; wisdom and power are his.