A name to be spoken under the crushing weight of looming shadows.
Judas is up to no good.
When we hear his name spoken, we cringe a bit. Because we know that what will follow will be trouble. We’ve been given the spoilers and we know that he turns out to be the bad guy.
However, before we boil Judas down to that one act of betrayal, we must remember that he was, in fact, a very complex individual. He had traveled with Jesus, hearing the Good News and believing in it… until it didn’t come the way he thought it should.
Just before we see the evil slide into Judas’ heart, we hear Jesus speaking to his disciples and warning them that they must not let the world dull their hearts. They had to keep sharp, Jesus warns. If only the disciples could have known how soon this day of tribulation was going to come for them they may had been better prepared.
Judas would have heard the warning, but it didn’t seem to take root. Or maybe he just didn’t understand it. Certainly it would seem that the other disciples, the ones who ran away, or Peter who denied Jesus three times, didn’t understand it any better.
How Satan lured Judas astray isn’t spelled out in the Gospels, but a common idea is that Judas, a zealot who yearned for the overthrow of Rome and for Israel to become the ruling force in the world, was growing tired of Jesus’ peaceful message. He betrayed Jesus in an effort to force Jesus to fully reveal himself as the conquering Messiah that Judas (and so many others) hoped he would be.
Judas’ heart, in this theory, was dulled by the dreams and avarice of the world. The temptation that he might be able to force the very Son of God to conform to his visions got the better of him.
We like to dismiss Judas as a traitor and as a pawn of the devil, but an important reality of Lent is that we are like Judas in our own ways. We journey into the wilderness and bare our soul before God so that we might come face-to-face with the sinfulness that has taken root in our own hearts.
Like Judas, we can be blinded by the ideas, hopes, dreams, and concerns of this world. Our own fears or agendas can dull our hearts and we fail to see the beauty of salvation standing right before us.
What parts of this world dulls your heart? How can you stay sharp? In what ways are you trying to force God to form the kingdom according to your visions? In what ways can you conform yourself to the promise of salvation?