What is your name and your claim to fame, sir?
My name is Judas, and I became a traitor!
You became a traitor? Wow! That must be an interesting story …
??? … ??? … ??? … ??? … ???
For some reason the standard reference to an Apostle called Judas (not the okay one – the other one – the “Iscariot” one – the traitor) always catches my attention. Again and again that “traitor” suffix/prefix. Three years Judas walked and talked and was discipled by Jesus. Three years of making mistakes, saying the wrong thing, doing the wrong thing, being sent out by Jesus with the others. Three years of being “one of the Apostles”.
I wonder how many people Judas (the traitor) healed, saved and helped. I wonder how many times the other Apostles listened to Judas (the traitor). I wonder how much affection Jesus showed Judas (the traitor) over those three years. How much affection Judas (the traitor) showed Jesus.
Now during those days he went out to the mountain to pray; and he spent the night in prayer to God. And when day came, he called his disciples and chose twelve of them, whom he also named apostles: Simon, whom he named Peter, and his brother Andrew, and James, and John, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James son of Alphaeus, and Simon, who was called the Zealot, and Judas son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor. Luke 6:12-16
Jesus called twelve. Just as He does with you and me.
Seems to me that there is a kind of ring-fencing going on in these accounts of Judas (who became a traitor). The label of hindsight explaining every (insinuation and) doubt (with hindsight):
Judas was light fingered. He was probably the one who wanted to sell the nard. He was the one who looked after the petty cash tin (nudge nudge, wink wink). He was a wrong ‘un alright!
We have a grandson. He has a label: “Downs Syndrome”. To many people that defines this young person. He ceases to be an individual. He becomes a label. He IS “Downs”. And – along with that label and definition comes knowledge. Because everyone “knows” what Downs is – so everyone “knows” our grandson.
“To be known is to be loved and to be loved is to be known.” (this powerful monologue has changed me)
A traitor is a label. Downs is a label. A Sinner is a label. Saved is a label. Worship is a label. The Church another, The Faith , , , The list of labels goes on and on. Always simplifying our complicated lives. Bringing order to the plethora of “processing” we do every day.
“And when day came, he called his disciples and chose twelve of them … “
If Judas (the traitor) was good enough for Jesus, then Judas the man is good enough for me. If Jesus chose Judas (the traitor) because He needed someone to fulfil the prophecies later down the line, I think we like “our God” very neatly folded, ironed and looking good … on us.
Jesus would have known Judas’ heart and future. Just as Jesus knew his own future and all the agony He voluntarily suffered. And still He chose Judas as one of His twelve – for about three full years.
I see compassion.
I see Jesus NOT seeing our label of hindsight. I see Jesus allowing someone just like you and me the chance to know God Soft Hands Jesus. I see Jesus seeing Judas the human being.
Peter denied Jesus three times. The others all scarpered when the poo hit the fan. But Judas (the traitor) became a label of hindsight. And whatever else he did in those three years – Judas’ part was tainted by hindsight. The black sheep. The scapegoat. A cancer amongst us. And we must quarantine anything which may infect our purity of faith. We still do. We call it “The Lost World”.
(I think that having one “global label of infection” makes life so much more simple)
Well I know very little of Judas. But I see many who know “The Traitor” – just as I see many who know “Downs” week after week.
Jesus chose Judas. Just as He chooses you and me. What we do with that honour is down to each of us. I look at Jesus … I look at us. And we are the ones who pillory “The Traitor” … I don’t see Jesus doing that.
This morning I wonder … why do we find that comes so easily?