This is the third in a series of devotions based around the events of Holy Week. Read the intro to the series here.
- Scripture -
Holy Wednesday, otherwise known as Spy Wednesday is the third day of Holy Week and traditionally the day which marks Judas’ betrayal of Jesus.
Then one of the Twelve—the one called Judas Iscariot—went to the chief priests and asked, “What are you willing to give me if I deliver him over to you?” So they counted out for him thirty pieces of silver. From then on Judas watched for an opportunity to hand him over.
- Reflection -
Do you ever feel sorry for Judas? I do! I sometimes feel he gets a bit of a bad rap. All he really did was get tempted in the same way we all do… it’s just that when he gave into temptation there were earth shattering consequences.
Those of us participating in lent are currently reenacting Jesus’ time fasting in the desert. Whilst there he was tempted to turn stones into bread (after 40 days without food I think I’d be tempted to just eat the stones!), demonstrate his messiahship through Evel Kneivil style death-defying stunts (getting angels to rescue him from plummeting to his death), and establish his Kingdom through power alliances with unsavoury allies (kneeling before Satan). What unites all of these temptations is they challenge Jesus’ loyalty to God and his commitment to the life God had called him to.
Judas is challenged in exactly the same way. His loyalty to Jesus and his commitment to his discipleship is tested by his desire for stuff. In the end, he quits his discipleship and betrays Jesus for thirty pieces of silver.
Jesus was tested and passed. Judas was tempted and failed. What about me?
Behind all of Jesus’ temptations are taunting questions: Don’t you want satisfaction? Don’t you want to be famous? Do you need to find other ways of making that promise come true? And if I’m honest my answer to all 3 is regularly “yes!” I like being satisfied and hate not getting what I want when I want it. I feel drawn to settings that boost my ego and make me visible (every time I set up some kind of group I can’t help but secretly imagine what it would be like if it exploded into a world-wide movement!). I regularly strive to do things in my own strength, I strategise far more than I pray, and even sometimes have the audacity to have a go at God when I feel like he’s not holding up his end of our ministry partnership!
In short, I’m far more like Judas than Jesus.
Thankfully Jesus still calls me, still chooses to eat with me. He knows my temptations, he knows my weaknesses, and still he chooses me. Even when I betray him, even when I feel like the life he’s called me to is too hard and I begin to compromise, he still counts me among his friends. The question is, when I’m tempted and he calls me out on it, will I relent, or will I follow through with my betrayal. And if I do betray him, will I be like Judas and keep running away from Jesus in my shame; or will I be like Peter and grab the next opportunity to run towards him, repent, and continue my discipleship.
- Prayer -
Jesus, I know I’m weak. I know I have issues. I know there are many things that tempt me to betray you, to give up on the life you’ve called me into. Thank you that you see these things and still invite me to be your disciple. Forgive me for my failures. Help me. Call me out when I’m tempted to compromise. May I become more like you and less like Judas.
Photo Credit: Mitchell Hollander