Judas Iscariot—Jesus’ betrayer—is often one of those characters that we just “go with the flow.” It is easier to just see him as the betrayer, rather than see him as what he was, human. When we wrestle with the person that was Judas Iscariot, we often have to wrestle with the aspects of ourselves which may seem similar. Behaving in such a way that seems best and is ultimately still betrayal is something we have all struggled with. If you believe that you have never betrayed someone, think again. Betrayal often is our selfishness conflicting with the selfishness of another. Betrayal can seem to be opposing the dominant social theme (whether personal, tribal, or something larger).
In the midst of the Christmas season (which it still is), it is easy to get caught up in the warm “fuzziness” of “good cheer”, fun, and gatherings. Sometimes, we get caught up in behaving that way because it is easier (or less painful) than being caught up in our own pain and trials. Going with the flow often seems the best (or at least easiest), yet the strains and trials are often what cause us to actually grown and strengthen in our lives. When we don’t behave in such a manner, some perceive us as “betraying” the “spirit of the season.” On the other hand, if we blindly follow the cultural flow we may be “betraying” ourselves.
This all comes into play when we reflect on Jesus’ words about not losing one. He lost Judas, didn’t he? Or, did he? If one takes the predestination perspective, Judas was “predestined” to betray Jesus. This, of course, denies Judas’ free will in making a choice. And, this is also why wrestling with our concept of Judas is so important. In the midst of being betrayed, or betraying others, we have a choice. Jesus gave Judas a choice, and that is the real tragedy. Judas took a different path. Even knowing this, do you think Jesus mourned? Did Jesus feel betrayed? Despite all of this, Jesus still poured into Judas.
1) What does Jesus pouring into Judas tell us about how we are to pour into others?
2) What does betrayal mean to you? What “counts” as betrayal to you? Do others define betrayal differently?
3) How do betrayal, forgiveness, and the Christian life go (or not) with each other?