OK… I’ve finally taken the time with a sigh of fatigue to look back over the past few weeks. During the past two weeks I moved to Mount Joy to be closer to the church, and celebrated my first Easter at Westgate Baptist Church. A combination of circumstances made it essential that I do much of my moving during holy week which had me exhausted by the end of the week. I will admit this particular Lenten season was not as reflective and spiritually centered as those in the past. I simply jammed too much into my life all at one time. However, one of the highlights of the Lenten Journey was our joint service with First Baptist Lancaster on Maundy Thursday evening. Aside from the benefits of seeing our two churches yoke for the service I was personally enriched by the dramatic monologue Rev. Paul Fitzgerald did of Judas. After the drama I began to study the life of Judas the betrayer a bit more closely.
In my former thinking it would have been hard to find someone worse that Judas. Reverend Fitzgerald’s dramatic presentation however suggested that perhaps Judas was a good man with a backfired strategy. Some theorize that Judas betrayed Jesus so he would be forced to assert his Kingly dominance to the forefront and overthrow the Roman oppressors. Some believe this, however I question it because the Bible says that “Judas…was a thief.” (John 12:6). The man was somehow able to live in the presence of God and experience the miracles of Christ and yet remain unchanged in his heart. In the end he decided he’d rather have money than a friend, so he sold Jesus for thirty pieces of silver. Many conclude that Judas was a scoundrel, a bum, cheat. How can anyone see him any other way?
I don’t know, but Jesus did know. Only inches from the face of his betrayer, Jesus looked at him and said, “Friend, do what you came to do” (Matthew 26:50). Did you hear Jesus call Judas “Friend.” I am uncertain what Jesus saw in Judas that made him worthy to be called “friend.” But one thing I do know is that Jesus doesn’t lie, and in that heart wrenching cruel moment Jesus saw something good in a very bad man. And in reflection I wonder if He would help us do the same toward people who have hurt or betrayed us profoundly in our own lives? And I am also reminded of the many instances where I have been treated with mercy and restoration by God amidst of my own sin and failure. I am grateful that He has called me “friend.”
Colossians 3:5 “Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, long suffering, bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, even as Christ has forgiven you…”