Rare circumstance indeed, I was faced with one. The challenge: Fill a moment of free time. The thought: Inspire yourself. The result: Conviction.
I grabbed The Message and sat down for a few moments of peace, thumbing through the pages, thinking to find some words of strength to help in time of need. The words of the Master, oh, how often they inspire! And such I was in need of, especially at this time. My mind mused over the changes. Uprooting from one state to another, moving farther from the family into which I was born, leaving the family that I gained where I was, and traveling to what looked to be another wilderness–of the flatter variety than West Virgina. Still fresh in my heart were the tears I had witnessed in the eyes of those who loved me. How were they now? No answer. Hard days and nights of work, attempting to create regularity and form healthy boundaries, were too familiar already. “Inspire me,” I thought to God.
Pauline Epistles? No, a Gospel just now, but which? And there was Matthew, but where? And there was the 27th chapter:
Thirty Silver Coins
027 In the first light of dawn, all the high priests and religious leaders met and put the finishing touches on their plot to kill Jesus. Then They tied him up and paraded him to Pilate, the governor.
Judas, the one who had betrayed him, realized that Jesus was doomed. Overcome with remorse, he gave back the thirty silver coins to the high priests, saying, “I’ve sinned. I’ve betrayed an innocent man.”
Who was this Judas? Who did he think he was? Betraying God in human flesh? What was his problem?
Oh how easy to find fault with the traitor. But how could a traitor have stolen so close to the master undiscovered? If the truth be told, the greatest of traitors are the ones who you least expect–the ones who appear most loyal.
I know this Judas.
This was the Judas of whom it is said, the disciples recommended him to Jesus. He was the most greatly acclaimed, unanimously by the followers of the Master. This Judas–a finely educated man. A man among men, and a gentleman. His brow was not furrowed and marked by darkness. No, his hands were not clutched tightly together with the satirical posture of a traitor. If any would betray Christ, it would have been Matthew, the tax-collector, or Thomas, who never believed anyway, or Nathaniel, who was already prejudiced by the Christ’s background, or Peter, who always had something to say–and who was wrong more than right. But not Judas. Judas? No, to him was entrusted the welfare of the group. Into his hands was committed the summation of monetary possessions of the group.
Educated. Shrewd. Astute. Impeccable. Dependable.
Or so it seemed.
But this same Judas, having won the confidence of all, was the one who, unbeknownst to all but God Himself, contrived a plan to force the hand of the Great Almighty. Having been acclaimed for his wisdom, he was certain he knew how things should go, and an earthly kingdom of domination over all oppressors and overthrow of Roman tyranny was best. No one but Judas knew that he was pocketing donations to the Master. No one but Judas knew that his intent was to rise by any means necessary. No one knew but Judas. Judas, and God.
Betrayed with a kiss.
Who would do such a thing? Coming close enough to the face of God as to kiss it, not just whilst holding in the heart a determination to turn away from the plainly declared will of God, but moreover, whilst committing the act that his heart had plotted in direct defiance of Divine authority. Gall–unmitigated gall. The heart of a traitor.
But a far worse revelation was yet to unfold in the seconds following the condemnation of Judas. Judge not lest ye be judged.
I am Judas.
Highly acclaimed by my peers as one who would do well in God’s service. Well trained, finely educated, and refined. To whom has been entrusted the Divine assets. The least suspected of betraying the Master who chose me. I am Judas.
Outward pretenses are beautiful, but what can be said of the heart? Deceitful, and desperately wicked. A heart that would plunder the Divinely entrusted resources to use for personal power and pleasure. None would think me a traitor, and for my high reasoning ability, neither would I, until it was too late–until I betrayed an innocent man. But God. Though I may deceive others, though I may deceive myself, none can stand before the eyes of God and maintain anything hidden. And before His eyes I stood. He saw my heart, and begged me to change my course of action.
Betrayed with a kiss.
Dear friends, could it be that each of us is Judas? None would believe us to be a traitor, even as we near the Master, giving the most flowery and intimate of greetings, while holding in our hearts our own unsurrendered, unsanctified desires? Have we conspired against the Lord in any capacity, yet daily come before His presence as if we are pure? We may deceive others, and we may deceive ourselves, but none can deceive the Everlasting God.
Search your heart, and return to your God before you too have finally betrayed innocent blood because you were blinded in seeking your version of God’s reality.