Day 3: Judas Iscariot
Devotional by Shauna Wallace
Read Matthew 26:46-56
Jesus Prays in Gethsemane
46 Rise, let us be going; see, my betrayer is at hand.” 47 While he was still speaking, Judas came, one of the twelve, and with him a great crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests and the elders of the people. 48 Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, “The one I will kiss is the man; seize him.” 49 And he came up to Jesus at once and said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” And he kissed him. 50 Jesus said to him, “Friend, do what you came to do.” Then they came up and laid hands on Jesus and seized him. 51 And behold, one of those who were with Jesus stretched out his hand and drew his sword and struck the servant of the high priest and cut off his ear. 52 Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back into its place. For all who take the sword will perish by the sword. 53 Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels? 54 But how then should the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must be so?” 55 At that hour Jesus said to the crowds, “Have you come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs to capture me? Day after day I sat in the temple teaching, and you did not seize me. 56 But all this has taken place that the Scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled.” Then all the disciples left him and fled.
Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. The ESV text may not be quoted in any publication made available to the public by a Creative Commons license. The ESV may not be translated in whole or in part into any other language.
Judas makes me uncomfortable. I want to peg his flaw as blindness to his atrocity, because how does a disciple, one of the twelve, a friend who had a seat at the table with Jesus and managed the ministry’s money, become memorialized as Jesus’ betrayer?
For three years, he walked with Jesus and saw a lot of the things he did. When he and his armed cohort of Jesus’ religious enemies approached Jesus in the Garden—a place Judas knew, “for Jesus often met there with his disciples” (John 18:2)—he greeted Jesus as Rabbi, then planted the kiss of death on Jesus’ face. It was the sign that sealed the deal he’d already made with the devil (see John 13:2 and 27), and it betrayed the truth about him.
That’s what betrayals do. They reveal the truth, and they start long before the acts that make them known. They start with our affections.
Judas may have looked the part of a Jesus follower, but he was an indignant thief who didn’t care about the poor (see Matthew 22:8 and John 12:4-6). He dipped his hand in the money bag long before he dipped it in the bowl with Jesus at the Last Supper, the very thing Jesus used to identify him as “My betrayer” (Matthew 26:46). Judas feared man and loved money, affections we may deem relatively harmless, along with ours. But here’s another truth: seemingly harmless affections eventually lead to painful betrayals.
Maybe you don’t struggle with fear of man or love of money. I do. Maybe you are honest and care for the poor. I’m not always great at this. Regardless of what may divide our loyalty to Jesus, we can all learn from Judas and from Jesus’ sobering words to His disciples after the Lord’s Supper just prior to the Garden scene: “You will all fall away because of me this night. For it is written, ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered’” (Matthew 26:31).
All fall away and go astray to our own way (see Isaiah 53:6).
When Judas called Jesus, “Rabbi” (or teacher), he left out, “Lord”. Judas’ kiss was the outward evidence of his inward loyalty to another master. Jesus may be a lot of things to us. If He is Lord, He desires and deserves to be our single affection. Lord of all.
- Is Jesus your Lord and master—is He Lord of all the affections of your heart?
- What affections trump your allegiance to Christ, even in ways the devil wants you to consider harmless?
- By the power of the Holy Spirit, what is one way you could surrender one of your divided affections to Jesus today?
Lord, I am humbled by Judas and how alike we are. I am of all who fall away, and when my affections pledge allegiance to the world and its things, I am vulnerable to painful betrayals. Just like Judas. It could have been me who planted a kiss on Jesus’ face while I kicked up my heel against Him. But by Your grace, you saved me, redeemed me, and started a work in me that You are faithful to finish to the end. Please forgive me for the ways I have betrayed You or harmed others, and help me as I forgive those whose divided affections have hurt me. Lord, my heart is “deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked” (Jeremiah 17:9). Please forgive me for the wickedness in my own heart and accept the words of David in Psalm 19:12-13 as the cry of my heart today: