The Warning

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“I am not saying these things to all of you; I know the ones I have chosen. But this fulfills the Scripture that says, ‘The one who eats my food has turned against me.’ I tell you this beforehand, so that when it happens you will believe that I am the Messiah. I tell you the truth, anyone who welcomes my messenger is welcoming me, and anyone who welcomes me is welcoming the Father who sent me.” Now Jesus was deeply troubled, and he exclaimed, “I tell you the truth, one of you will betray me!” (John 13:18-21)

Read: Esther 5:1 – 10:3

Relate: What if Judas didn’t really think he was betraying Jesus? I’m a firm believer in the concept that everybody is the hero in their own story. What I mean by that is that from their own perspective everybody, at least most people, truly have convinced themselves that what they are doing is right. At the very least, they are doing something wrong but because of x it is no big deal or maybe it is a necessary evil so that y might be accomplished. Even the most notorious of villains usually are committing their evil for what they believe are good causes. With that in mind, I wonder what Judas was thinking when he did what he did.

I remember reading a book from his perspective. I don’t remember it well because I read it probably as far back as high school. I really did not like the book but the idea behind it stuck with me. This book tried to turn Judas into a “not so bad” guy. He wasn’t stealing funds from Jesus ministry for his own greedy, selfish purposes, he was funneling that money to other revolutionaries. He didn’t really view what he was doing as betrayal. Judas truly did believe that Jesus was the Messiah but that Jesus for whatever reason wasn’t yet ready to “just do it”. Judas figured that if he could just force a confrontation Jesus would forced to become the hero, kicking out the Romans and the hypocritical Jewish leaders just like the Maccabees had done a century before.

Unfortunately, obviously, things didn’t work out as Judas had planned. Even after Jesus was captured, convicted, and crucified Judas still didn’t “get it”. Judas decided (as many of the others must have as well) that he was wrong and that Jesus must not have been the Messiah. Combine that disappointment with all the he “wasted” time following Jesus and the guilt that Judas had just sent a genuinely good man to his death… It was too much for poor Judas. He couldn’t bear it anymore and in a moment of sorrow, he plunged to his own death. Forever this man with good intentions became painted as the ultimate villain.

React: Looking at it in this light, perhaps Jesus wasn’t so much accusing Judas beforehand but trying to warn him. If Judas truly thought he was doing the right thing, Jesus repeated warnings throughout the night might be seen more as an attempted warning to Judas to open his eyes. Just as God warned Cain, before he killed Able, that he was headed down the wrong road perhaps these betrayal statements by Jesus were a warning to Judas. You don’t have to do this.

You might call me a heretic for my next statement but I firmly believe that Judas’ betrayal was not necessary for the purposes of God to be fulfilled. It is how things happened but it wasn’t necessarily how it had to happen. God uses the choices of evil things for good but God never forces someone into doing evil even for the best of purposes. Nobody is predestined for damnation. Each person makes their own choices and the “righteous deeds” some people think they are doing are exactly the deeds that are leading them to hell. The question is never, “Do I believe I am doing the right thing?” Instead it should be, “Are my actions lining up with the commands of God?” It is God who makes us right, not our own rationalization.

Respond: 

God, please make my ears attentive to the warnings You might be directing my way. I pray that you would quiet my mind enough that I might hear Your voice. I want to do what is right, help me to dig in to Your Word so that I might better know what that right is. Like Paul I say, “My conscience is clear but that does not make me innocent.” You make me innocent. You make me righteous. Help me not to walk in the way that I believe is right but rather to follow You no matter what direction that leads me. You are Holy. Take up residence in me that I might be holy as You are.

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7 thoughts on “The Warning

  1. Awesome perspectives. Enjoyed your post. I recently heard this story in a sermon about being unoffendable, Jesus was not offended that Judas betrayed Him. When we are offended we are in pride. Jesus was humble and knew people have choices and even when they hurt us we have to forgive and be unoffended ..only He makes us innocent!

  2. Judas was human, and as humans we sometimes make the wrong choices. How many times are we faced with situations each day that require us to do what is right? Sometimes we hear that still, small voice warning us not to go a certain way, but human nature steps in and argues that your way may be right. We go ahead and do it our way, only to find out we should have listened to that voice in our head. Jesus is all-knowing, he knows our past, present and future. He can see down the road, and what our actions are going to lead to. But he still gives us free will, allowing us to either listen to him, or test the waters on our own. I think we have all made these mistakes, and we are able to learn from them. So we can all point fingers at Judas as being the villain, but I agree with you, what if he truly thought things were going to turn out different? He didn’t get the satisfaction that he thought he was going to. After all, we can’t see the future. And after the fact we can see our failures and where we went wrong. They always say hind sight is 20/20. And Judas was human, because he did feel remorse for betraying Jesus. That is why he killed himself, he could not live with the consequences. Great article, and a great way to help us all to view others in a different light. We shouldn’t always be quick to judge. And also an encouraging note to remind us to follow God’s leading in every area of our life, even if we can’t see the end or don’t think its the best way.

  3. I have often thought that Judas got a bad rap over the centuries. I think you are right, I think he had convinced himself that he was doing the right thing. . . or even the wrong thing for the right reasons. I find myself doing it more often than I like to admit so who am I to say that Judas was so terrible. He was likely no worse than any of the rest of us.

  4. You are right, we all have our own “righteous” prospective. With the story of Judas I think he did was destined for him to do. I see what happened to him happen all the time. It speaks on this in the bible about God letting you go to a reprobate mind. Because I am aware of people being so caught up in what they think is right, I have learned not to judge people. Today when I see this I literally mourn for them. I feel so sorry that sometimes I can’t bear it. I speak on ways people get caught up in what they think is right in my book. Please check it out. .http://www.lulu.com/shop/lashondra-graves/chasing-signs/paperback/product-21802332.html

  5. Judas chose his course and then he developed the attitude that allowed him to follow through.

    He was fully aware of what he was doing and he did not show remorse by killing himself or throwing the money back. The word that best describes his action is Apostasy – he made a choice to draw away and oppose Jesus even though he had seen all the signs, portents and miracles.

    Jesus was aware of who would betray him that it was one of the 12 but nowhere does it say he chose Judas to be that person because that would have been cruel and un-Christ-like.

    Do not feel sorry for Judas, just as you do not feel sorry for Adam and Eve or Satan and the Demons; the outcome was a consequence of their personal choice.

    Remember the biblical use of the term foreknow is not the same as foreordained.

  6. Thought provoking. Judas raises lots of questions about the intersection of divine & human wills. Judas made choices, & Jesus gave satan permission to enter Judas (John 13:26-27). We want to dichotimize these intersections, choosing either/or. All I really know is that these divine/human intersections always lead to the cross. Or, rather, the cross is the ultimate intersection of God’s will & free will.

  7. I agree with you completely that Judas didn’t have to do it to accomplish the purpose of God (not that it matters I’m not some great scholar) but it reminds me of the words of Mordecai to Esther that if she didn’t come to the aid of the Jews in Persia … God would bring it from someone else and she would basically be sorry that she didn’t; same idea … the betrayal simply would have happened another way by another man/woman. Great read T.Y>

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