Thursday, March 13, 2008

Are You a Judas or Are You a Peter?

This past Sunday, our associate pastor preached about Judas. I have been thinking about this sermon ever since. He brought out some wonderful points regarding Judas, the betrayer. At the time of the last supper, there were about 2 million people in town for the Feast of Unleavened Bread. People brought their lambs for sacrifice. Some people made their sacrifices on Thursday and some made them on Friday, depending on where you were from. There were about 250,000 lambs sacrificed on those two days. We know that the blood from those lambs ran into the Kidron Brook and it is said that the blood made the brook run red for several days. I wonder if those soldiers who came to arrest Jesus had to wade through the blood of 250,00 slaughtered lambs in order to kill The Lamb?

It's beyond ironic that all those lambs were killed and all that blood ran through the town for days, yet those lambs weren't enough. It would be The Lamb that would finally be enough to atone for sin - all the sins ever committed in the past, present, and future. It is so beyond our comprehension that Jesus died over 2,000 years ago for the sins we commit today. He saw our sin of today all those years ago on the cross even though we would not be born for so many years later to commit them. He knew us even then. Jesus always WAS here - He wasn't created....He just 'was'. Jesus IS here - He is here in the present time with us through His spirit and watching us from heaven. He is also in the future - He has been to a time we will never live to see. He can see lives of our great-great grandchildren today. Jesus is not bound by time and we just cannot wrap our finite minds around that fact.

Talk of Judas seems to be more prominent during Easter time than any other time of the year. Judas is not someone we really like to talk or think about very much. Maybe we don't like to talk about him because he betrayed our Jesus in such and ugly way. Can't you just picture Judas coming to Jesus in the garden with the soldiers behind him and putting his filthy, lying lips on Jesus' cheek? It's disgusting to even think about. I bet if Peter had caught on to the fact that Judas was the betrayer Jesus told them about in the upper room, he would have cut off Judas' ear instead of the soldier's.

Maybe we don't like to talk about Judas because there is really nothing positive about his story. Judas followed Jesus for the benefits he thought would come from being closely associated with a future king. He didn't realize that King Jesus would first have to be despised, rejected, and killed - He didn't realize that Jesus' kingdom would not be here on earth (at least not yet). No, Jesus wasn't the kind of king Judas expected to serve.

Maybe we don't like to talk about Judas because we see ourselves in him. By that I mean, Judas was looking to be the right hand man of a rising king - he wanted wealth and favor. After following him for a few years, Judas realized that Jesus wasn't what he expected. Can't you just hear Judas saying "Hey, this isn't what I signed on for!". Jesus wasn't good enough for Judas - He was too small for Judas. There was no pomp and circumstance - no royal treatment - no regal robes and scepter. Judas never saw the future with Jesus, only the here and now and he didn't like what he saw. Judas was close to Jesus, but he was not changed by Jesus. Judas didn't like the way things were going while following Jesus, so he decided to move on to 'bigger and better' things.

Maybe Judas got a better offer from someone who said, "Hey, Judas, forget that Jesus guy and come with me - I will make you rich". Maybe Judas thought that Jesus would ruin his reputation with the people who 'mattered'. Maybe Judas thought his gig was almost up - maybe he thought Jesus would expose him for the liar and thief he really was. After all, Judas had an image to build. You can't build your image while getting too close to Jesus, right? Why? Because He will always expose your sin. Sin does bad things for one's image.

Jesus could have chosen to tell the disciples that Judas was the weasel. He didn't tell them because He knew that would have messed up the plan. (I have a feeling they would have killed Judas themselves). When asked what he would charge to betray Jesus, Judas said "30 pieces of silver". What??? This is a man who loves money enough to steal it and he only wants 30 pieces of silver, the price of a slave??? This shows that Jesus meant nothing to him. He had followed Him, he had seen Him raise the dead and heal the sick - Judas was witness to it all. When given the opportunity to make money, he forgot all the miracles and focused on himself. What's your 30 pieces of silver? What would you betray Jesus for?

I see so much of myself in Judas. Do you see yourself? Like Judas, I am close to Jesus (He lives in my heart), yet for so long I remained seemingly unchanged. Much of the time, I choose myself over Jesus. Sometimes, I choose other things over time with Him when a better opportunity comes up. Sometimes, life with Jesus isn't what I expected -it isn't "good" enough for me - I want more. Sometimes, I am familiar with Him, but not faithful. Yes, I am a lot like Judas, but thankfully, I am more like Peter. You see, like Judas, Peter denied Jesus (not once, but three times). The difference is that Peter saw his sin and asked forgiveness. I may have some of the qualities of Judas, but I have one thing that Judas never had---forgiveness.

Judas was a false follower. Peter was a faithful follower. Isn't it better to be a follower who fails than one who fails to follow? Judas never really believed. Peter believed, but was human and failed. Judas betrayed and never repented. Peter betrayed and he asked to be restored. Judas hung himself, died a traitor and went to hell. Peter died faithful and lives in heaven.

There is a lot to be learned from the life of Judas. The biggest lesson, I think, is that no matter what we do Jesus knows the heart. Judas didn't realize that Jesus knew his thoughts and intentions. Judas tried to hide from Jesus, but there is no hiding from Jesus. Judas thought he was pulling a 'fast one' on Jesus, but that just isn't possible for any of us. Jesus knew that Judas was a traitor, Jesus knew that Judas thought He wasn't good enough or big enough, Jesus knew the dirty deals that went on behind the scenes with Judas in His betrayal - Jesus knew all there was to know about Judas, including the fact that Judas was not a true believer. Jesus knew that Judas would die and go to hell.

Jesus also knew all there was to know about Peter. He knew Peter was faithful, He knew Peter was a friend, He also knew Peter was scared when he was confronted about his relationship to Jesus. Jesus knew Peter's heart and he knew that Peter would deny him, but He also knew Peter would ask His forgiveness.

Even though I may do Judas-like things, Jesus knows my heart because I am His. He knows my mistakes even before I make them - He knows I will ask forgiveness even before I ask.

There is no hiding from Jesus - too bad Judas didn't learn that earlier. Too bad so many of us don't learn that earlier.


Lysa TerKeurst said...

Okay... this is in response to your comment on my blog-

For everyone else- post about organization

But for Beth (or anyone like her- including me)- post about how you hide stuff when company comes!!! You are so funny. I fully expect a great hiding place revealed tomorrow!!! I will be looking for it!!!

BethAnne said...

Thank you, Lysa! Thank you from the bottom of my closet!

Rochelle said...

"Judas-like things" is a great description... and I think we all do "Judas-like things" but He does know our hearts. Good post!

Bev Brandon said...

Doesn't look like a lengthy post to me---but look who is commenting...

Your comment was priceless...
usually I think it my indifferent God that opposes me until I come to my senses to see what I am calling HIM cause I was fixated on HIM meeting my need, eradicating my problem, rather than pursuing HIM in the midst of it. He is such a beautiful God, isn't HE??
And you are such a beautiful woman of faith!!

And what speaks to me from Peter is this same beautiful God saying back to Peter---"do you love ME? do you love ME? do you love ME?"
or me.

Thanks Bethanne!!!!

Alana said...

Great thoughts. I don't know why we think we can hide from God, but we sure do try at times, don't we?

Jenny said...

Thanks for making me think, I thought I would be getting a tip about organization or hiding, and instead I got a treat!


Cassie said...

You truly are a phenomenal writer...You should consider a profession in it...I am not kidding...Your words were perfect for me today...thanks so much for sharing your heart...definatley appreciated today...Keep on Writing...You are AWESOME!!!

Fran said...

Ok..that was so good. I was hoping you would fess up to being like Judas bc it was stirring in my heart..."Fran, you can be just like that fool!" But, thankfully we have and know the forgiveness that Peter knew.

I loved this Bethanne! Hope you have a great weekend!

Stephanie (Ocean Mommy) said...

"I think, is that no matter what we do Jesus knows the heart."

Praise the Lord He knows my heart...

I Loved this post Bethanne!

Hope your little one is feeling better, I've prayed for him!!

Alana said...

My mouth is watering just at the thought of eating Sunny's for lunch! And how fun would it be to eat there with you! That is a must do the next time we are in TN!!!!

Celly B said...

What a thought-provoking post! I especially liked the part where you said, "Isn't it better to be a follower who fails than one who fails to follow?"

I also wanted to share with you that I just finished reading Peter's First Easter to my daughter. It is a wonderful story of Easter, told from Peter's perspective. It calls attention to Judas at the last supper and, of course, at the Mount of Olives. What I really love, though, is the ending of the story where the resurrected Jesus asks Peter 3 times if he loves Him, in a sense canceling out Peter's denial.