With the fragrance of oil still in the air, clinging to his beard, perhaps even upon his garments-
Then Judas Iscariot, who was one of the twelve, went to the chief priests in order to betray him to them. And when they heard it, they were glad and promised to give him money. And he sought an opportunity to betray him. Mark 14:10-11
I come to this passage of scripture with more questions than I have answers. I am wrestling inside with what feels all too familiar and yet remains slippery and evasive. I am afraid there is Judas in me. A clanging of silver desire to build my own empire, my way. A purse swollen with too much of my own understanding of how the Kingdom of God is to come, now-in me. I gaze at the ledger of my words and wonder at the zealous pronouncements coming from a heart that is far too distant from the all consuming flame.
Pro 26:23 Like the glaze covering an earthen vessel are fervent lips with an evil heart.
That is, ardent professions of friendship from a wicked heart, however smooth, shining, and splendid they may appear, are like a vile vessel covered over with base metal. -Vines Word Study
Even so, regardless of, Jesus called Judas Friend–
And he came up to Jesus at once and said,
And he kissed him.
Jesus said to him,
“Friend, do what you came to do.”
Then they came up and laid hands on Jesus and seized him. Mathew 26:49-50
Before he started his ministry Jesus went up to a lonely place and prayed all night for those that the Father would give him, all of them, even Judas. Our Rabbi doesn’t ask us to do what he hasn’t done: Pray for your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to the ones who will use you spitefully. I reflect upon my own gathering of leaders and ache with the realization that far too often I have assembled teams based on personality profiles, and gift mixes rather than the direct counsel of the Spirit of God gleaned from an all night prayer meeting.
Would I choose a betrayer knowing it would further the plans and destiny of God in my life? Even if I could choose that one, would I love them? Would I give everything I had in me to them? Would I pour out my life an offering for them? Would I wash their feet? Do I trust God’s work in my life, as HIS LIFE, to surround me with the people of His choosing and leave the working of the relationship in His hands to mold, and do with as He please?
The answer echoes clear and final. No. I fear being betrayed. I guard against it. I have made it a point of counsel in my leading of others, preaching the necessity of : “guarding their hearts”. I find upon examination, that I have stayed on the fringe of community where it is safer and easier to remain unscathed. Yet, when I examine the life of the one I say I follow, this rule of ministry, and principle of effective leadership isn’t there.
He didn’t withhold affection, correction, counsel, anointing or presence. There is no evidence that he treated Judas any different than the others. He gave Judas the gift of Himself as much as any of the number who surrounded him desired to receive. It seems to be Judas’s choice of proximity in the fellowship of the twelve. Even as it is my choice how close do I want to be? On the fringe, coming in late because I am busy building my empire? Or leaning upon His breast asking Him to examine my heart for signs of unfaithfulness…”Is it me, Lord?”
It is fascinating to me that only after the betrayer is identified as one who shared His bread, and told to accomplish what is in his heart quickly, that Jesus gives the terms of the New Covenant to the rest of the community:
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:34-35
I am His, IF I love. Love even those that bite and wound and maim and in spite of them . I feel His gaze upon me as I sit with the eleven. My eyes staring at the place Judas occupied at the table.
Do you love me? Then love them, as I have loved you. As I have shown you how to give yourself without reservation even to those who hate you. Your life is not your own. It is mine. I paid for it. I give my life a ransom for many. YOU, give your life even to those who hate you for my name sake. In the end, the love of many will wax cold, and they will betray and deliver one another up to be killed…but you….YOU love. Keep on loving, to the end. Follow me and die to yourself. Die to your rights, your justifications, your protective strategies that keep you from getting hurt. Leave them. Abandon them, they will only hurt your relationship with me in the end. Stay close to the flame and learn to burn with truth in the inner most part of your being. Truth that I have loved you, as the Father has loved me.