On Your Mark by Dr. George O. Wood
Keep Me True!
Dec. 15, 2013
We are never given the circumstances of Judas’ calling as we are with Peter, Andrew, John, James, Levi and Nathanael. When we see the listings of the Twelve in Matthew, Mark and Luke, Judas’ name always appears last along with the this descriptor: “who betrayed him.”
There are so many mysteries attached to Judas. We know so little about him. He was from Iscariot — the only one of the Twelve not from Galilee. We also know he kept the purse for the community with Jesus and stole from it (John 12:5,6).
Why did Judas betray Jesus? Some say it was because he had a good motive — that he wanted to precipitate the moment when Jesus would be forced to reveal himself in power as King over Israel, vanquishing His enemies and restoring the physical throne of David.
But the Gospels strip away the speculation. Note the word “then” which begins verse 10. What does “then” refer to? The extravagant gift of perfume poured on Jesus by the woman in the home of Simon the Leper at Bethany, and Jesus’ refusal to censure her or reject the gift. For Judas, this was the catalyzing moment impelling him to action. Judas publicly rebuked Jesus for this waste of resource that could have been given to the poor (John 12:4-6).
John’s Gospel adds that the real reason Judas objected was not because of his concern for the poor, but because he wanted the money for himself. As the treasurer, he regularly stole from the purse.
The Bible tells us we are never given more testing than we can endure. Surely, Jesus knew Judas would be tempted if he held the cash for the group. But Judas did not have to yield to the temptation to enrich himself even though he had that vulnerability in his life.
It’s the same with you and me. The Lord allows certain situations to arise in our lives where we are most vulnerable. He lets that happen as a test for us. It is not a test He wants us to fail, nor is it one we have no willpower to resist. At any time, we can call upon the Lord’s help.
But once we begin stepping over the line — as Judas did — and continue in a pattern of doing wrong in regard to where we are vulnerable, it becomes harder and harder to break the encircling cords of habit. And, finally, that corrosion in our spirit can lead us to make catastrophic judgments that not only affect ourselves, but others.
What we began as sinful acts to bring us pleasure ends up stripping us of everything, including life and reputation — as it did with Judas.
Judas’ bad example serves as a warning to us as Jesus’ disciples. Each one of the Twelve knew in his heart he had serious vulnerabilities and that’s why when Jesus said, “One of you will betray me” they all “were saddened, and one by one they said to him, ‘Surely not I?’” (Mark 14:19).
If we are honest with ourselves, we know that deep in our own hearts there are things which, if we let them, could blossom into betrayal of the Lord himself. Our heart cry must always be, “Keep me true, Lord Jesus.”
A prayer of response
On Your Mark