“And immediately, while he was still speaking, Judas came, one of the twelve, and with him a crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests and the scribes and the elders. 44 Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, “The one I will kiss is the man. Seize him and lead him away under guard.” 45 And when he came, he went up to him at once and said, “Rabbi!” And he kissed him. 46 And they laid hands on him and seized him.” (Mark 14:43-46)
Judas was one of the twelve disciples, the twelve men closest to Jesus, who followed wherever Jesus went and sat at his feet learning from him for years. He witnessed firsthand the miracles and good works that Jesus did. He heard all of Jesus’ teachings and parables. He experienced Jesus’ grace and compassion. Yet somehow, he fell away when tempted by Satan, and betrayed Jesus.
How could that happen? What would motivate someone to turn away from or turn against Jesus? I can think of a few possible reasons.
Self preservation. Judas knew that the religious authorities were out to get Jesus. Perhaps he feared being arrested or persecuted because of Jesus. Fear of persecution, whether from authorities, family or friends, can tempt us to deny Christ. But Jesus tells us in Matthew 16:24-25, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”
Lust. Lust of the eyes and of the flesh will quickly lead us away from following Christ. Judas had already started down the slippery slope of lusting after money, as John 12:6 tells us: “he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it.” He was paid thirty silver coins for turning Jesus over to the authorities. He is one example of how “some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” (1 Tim 6:10). Our lust, whether for money, sex, power, or the things of this world, will wage war against our soul (1 Peter 2:11) and ultimately destroy us if we do not repent and turn back to Jesus.
Disappointment / Disillusionment. Not having our expectations met can tempt us to give up on following Jesus. Perhaps Judas, like many in the land of Israel, expected the Messiah to deliver them from all earthly problems. They did not understand that Jesus did not come to deliver an earthly kingdom (John 18:36). We need to examine what is ‘advertised’ about Jesus today. For example, does following Jesus mean we will never face hardships or calamities? Just look at the examples in the New Testament, and you will see that the opposite is true. As the apostle Paul testifies: “For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (1 Cor 12:9-10)
Therefore, let’s take time this Lent to examine ourselves (2 Cor 13:5). Set aside time for prayer, Scripture and seeking the Holy Spirit to reveal areas of our lives where we are being led into temptation to turn away from Jesus. You can use the Lent reflection guide printed in this bulletin to guide you in your time with the Lord.
By Jan Choo, Assistant Pastor (YCKC Bulletin 1 March 2020)