Betrayed By A Click: Exchanging Jesus For A Lie
When staring into the digital abyss, I tend to lose focus of what truly matters. Distracted by social media, entertainment-streaming-services, online news outlets, and websites galore, I exchange my relationship with the Lord for lesser things. Judas did the same too:
47 While he was still speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, arrived. With him was a large crowd armed with swords and clubs, sent from the chief priests and the elders of the people. 48 Now the betrayer had arranged a signal with them: “The one I kiss is the man; arrest him.” 49 Going at once to Jesus, Judas said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” and kissed him. (Matthew 26:47-49 NIV)
One of the many facts I find interesting in the betrayal of Jesus, is the meaning of the name of Jesus’ betrayer. Judas means, “The praised one.”
Allow me to tee this one up for you: In my experience the things we talk about the most, are the things to which we are most loyal. The Praised One gives himself away in John 12:5 by revealing with whom he’s placed his allegiance. Moments before his decision to betray, Mary anoints the feet of her Lord (Jesus) with expensive perfume (which at the time, was valued at around a year’s wages!!). But because Jesus is not Judas’ Lord, he sees Mary’s actions as a waste of financial gain.
Since Judas was the treasurer of Jesus’s ‘non-profit startup organization’, he was in charge of all things money related. So naturally, Judas questions why such an extravagant expense was literally poured out on the floor. For Mary, Jesus is her Lord and she reveals her dedication to her Savior by pouring out a fragrant offering, washing His feet, and unknowingly preparing Him for burial. The pouring out of fragrance represents the prayers of Godly people in covenant relationship with God (Read: Revelation 5:8). Although Judas was in relationship with Jesus - walking with him daily and seeing the signs, wonders and miracles - Judas did not enter into a covenant relationship with Jesus because he did not believe Jesus Christ was God.
Like Judas, our allegiance aligns with what we value.
After Jesus washes the feet of his disciples, He predicts His betrayal. I can’t begin to imagine what went through Judas’ mind in those moments. Not long before Jesus’ feet were washed in extravagance, we see in John 13 the Savior washing the feet of His disciples. Don’t you wonder what Jesus was thinking in that moment? Knowing Judas would betray him but washing Judas’ feet as if to give Judas one last chance. And then, Jesus reveals Jesus as the betrayer, in front of all the disciples, all of Judas’ friends…. Given the opportunity to confess and repent, Judas remains faithful to his monetary desires. Because our Redeemer was destined for the cross, The Lord of The Flies (AKA The Devil, Satan, Beelzebub- Death) enters The Praised One to carry out his assignment.
With money on his mind, and betrayal in his heart, Judas departs from the presence of God.
Could the same be said about you and me?
We depart from the presence of God in our pursuit of greater loves. Though Jesus carried out His suffering to the very end, we hold out for every opportunity to practice avoidance and escapism. We binge watch our favorite shows with the type of urgency reserved for consuming melting ice cream. Clicking through pages, we get lost in everything from purchases to pornography. Wrapped up in our kid’s lives, we escape our own by obsessing about theirs. We treat sports teams like idols, our communities uniting around the worship of what we treasure.
For me, I find escape in music and melodies, witty crafted sentences, and self-medicating remedies. Withdrawing from the world, I retreat to the trappings of my flesh. Though today I’m clean and serene - I still use substances/things to liberate my emotions. Convenience and comfort are the ménage à trois for which I desert God the most. Comfortable in internet escape, I value what the world has to offer above God. Although it’s not easy to admit, It’s easy for me to see Jesus as merely a man. Afterall, our actions reveal what we believe to be true…
We have a lot more in common with Judas than we care to admit.
Because Judas sees Jesus as a man, he reveals Jesus as a man: the man the authorities are plotting against. In exchange for 30 pieces of silver (which was the price of a slave gored by a bull) Judas betrays Jesus.
Another interesting fact: If a bull pierced a slave with his horns, the bull was to be put to death. Though Judas lived in the Jesus narrative, he read the story wrong. He saw Jesus as a slave, when Jesus was the bull , a sacrificial bull who pierced the hearts of men! Judas thought he was selling Jesus, but Jesus was purchasing the demanded price of our redemption.
As Exodus reveals:
29 If, however, the bull has had the habit of goring and the owner has been warned but has not kept it penned up and it kills a man or woman, the bull is to be stoned and its owner also is to be put to death.30 However, if payment is demanded, the owner may redeem his life by the payment of whatever is demanded. 31 This law also applies if the bull gores a son or daughter. 32 If the bull gores a male or female slave, the owner must pay thirty shekels of silver to the master of the slave, and the bull is to be stoned to death.
(Exodus 21:29-32 NIV)
This weekend, many of us will participate in the practice of Communion (Also known as the Eucharist, Holy Communion or Lord’s Supper). This is a tradition passed down since the Old Testament but in the “Easter Story” we see it as a time where Jesus invites His followers, and now us, to take part in communion by commanding us to eat the proverbial bread.
"This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me." Then, after dinner, Jesus commands his followers to drink from the cup of wine, "This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins." As Jesus was consecrated by the pouring out of perfume, He sets us apart by the pouring out of His blood.
36 Sacrifice a bull each day as a sin offering to make atonement. Purify the altar by making atonement for it, and anoint it to consecrate it. (Exodus 29:36 NIV)
Unlike priests who daily sacrificed bulls as a sin offering on our behalf, Jesus is the final atonement for our sins.
Many of us have seen wonders beyond our wildest imagination:
Healings without explanation
Marriages restored after infidelity or loss of children
People experiencing addiction set free - alcoholics and drug addicts
Food on the table
Bills paid unexplainably
The promiscuous turned faithful
Phantom angels appearing in times of crises…
However, like Judas, many of us fail to acknowledge Christ’s authority in any of it! Although Judas saw Jesus up close and personal, he still sold Him out for a couple of coins... With our actions, many of us do the exact same thing...
My prayer this weekend, is that it wouldn’t take experiencing a miracle to make Jesus your Lord.
As revealed in the scriptures, there are those who see, yet still don’t believe. It took experiencing an earthquake and seeing the living dead walk for Christ’s murders to confess His deity (Matthew 27:52-54). Luckily for us, Christ already knew what it would take for us to become part of His family; faith. The Apostle Paul put it best, “If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord, ”and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.” In the Kingdom of God, seeing is not believing. On the other side of those who haven’t experienced seeing the Messiah, are better blessings:
29 Jesus said, “So, you believe because you’ve seen with your own eyes. Even better blessings are in store for those who believe without seeing.” (John 20:29 MSG)
As we celebrate the death and resurrection of our king this weekend, let’s consider:
What do we value above Jesus Christ?
What earthly things, or comforts, do we cling to instead of Jesus?
Are those comforts worth it?
Thanks to Jesus, we can choose the cross and all it entails OR we can choose everything the world has to offer. WHAT WILL YOU CHOOSE?