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John 13:21-30 – After saying these things, Jesus was troubled in his spirit, and testified, “Truly, truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me.” The disciples looked at one another, uncertain of whom he spoke. One of his disciples, whom Jesus loved, was reclining at table at Jesus' side, so Simon Peter motioned to him to ask Jesus of whom he was speaking. So that disciple, leaning back against Jesus, said to him, “Lord, who is it?” Jesus answered, “It is he to whom I will give this morsel of bread when I have dipped it.” So when he had dipped the morsel, he gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot. Then after he had taken the morsel, Satan entered into him. Jesus said to him, “What you are going to do, do quickly.” Now no one at the table knew why he said this to him. Some thought that, because Judas had the moneybag, Jesus was telling him, “Buy what we need for the feast,” or that he should give something to the poor. So, after receiving the morsel of bread, he immediately went out. And it was night.
I can’t bring to mind a story in Scripture more tragic than the story of Judas Iscariot. Here is a man who spent real time with Jesus. He walked with Him. He dined with Him. He witnessed incredible miracles, and He heard challenging teaching. How could he do this? This morning, as I re-read these verses, I must confess I felt a stab of anger and revulsion. If anyone should have learned to trust Jesus, Judas should have.
But then my anger turned to a heaviness for people around me – people who have a similar story to Judas. No, they haven’t spent time with Jesus in the flesh, but they have spent time with Jesus. They have grown up in Church. They have witnessed miracles. Truly. They have seen first-hand incredible stories of changed lives. They have wrestled with challenging teaching, and then, turned away. So often, the reason is self. They respect Jesus, but they love themselves more. They insist that God adjust to them, and when He doesn’t, they walk away.
I do not know why Judas left Jesus, but I suspect it was for similar reasons. He probably had some great expectation for Jesus that Jesus refused to meet. Perhaps this was his way to change the narrative. Perhaps he planned to return to Christ one day. No one on this side of Heaven knows. What I do know is that the story of Judas resonates in my heart as a cautionary tale. I must examine my heart and make sure Christ is in my heart (2 Cor. 13:5). And I need to pray for those around me – that we all have eyes to realize that Jesus Christ is on the throne… and we are not.