January 24, 2020 (Friday) - The Judas in Me - A Reflection on Mark 3:13-19

He went up the mountain and called to him those whom he wanted, and they came to him. And he appointed twelve, whom he also named apostles, to be with him, and to be sent out to proclaim the message, and to have authority to cast out demons. So he appointed the twelve: Simon (to whom he gave the name Peter); James son of Zebedee and John the brother of James (to whom he gave the name Boanerges, that is, Sons of Thunder); and Andrew, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus, and Simon the Cananaean, and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.

Of all the twelve apostles, the one that fascinates me the most is Judas, because of what he did to a man he lived with and learned from, and who loved him dearly. I often used to wonder: How? How could he do this? Because if he could, then who is to say that we won’t, and the answer to that question made me realize that, indeed, many of us WILL. Shocked? Let me explain. Summarizing something that can fill a book into four paragraphs is not easy, but I am going to try because it is important.

We are all broken people, and although we think of ourselves as broken by the wounds we have suffered, there is the greater brokenness of sin. If we examine ourselves honestly, we would realize that there are certain things about us that we have been unable to change, no matter how hard we have tried. Why? Because we have become formed by years of habit and self-indulgence. Our minds are formed, our hearts are formed, and consequently, our will is formed.

Think of your reactions when somebody does something to offend you? It will vary from person to person, but in each person, it is invariably the same response. You might go into a corner and sulk. You might begin smashing things in rage. You might turn totally cold and frigid. You might hold your tongue but plot revenge. Whatever you do, do you realize it is often the same thing because our responses have become conditioned. You try to change but you fail.  So, what hope then?

Paul asked the same question. He said, "I want to do good, but evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death?” (Romans 7:21-24). But, fortunately, he has the answer. "Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!”

We can do it through Jesus. But wasn’t Judas with Jesus? Aren’t we with Jesus? The honest answer is, “No. Not unless we are trying to become like him.” Judas couldn’t change because he was too full of himself. Even though he realized he was doing wrong, he didn’t want to really change, because change involved dying. Dying to self and living in Christ. Dying is painful, but it is the price he needed to pay. It is the price we all need to pay. Otherwise, we will die the same death that Judas did.

So, let us be like Jesus. For that we have to do the things he did. We can begin with prayer.