Now the Festival of Unleavened Bread, called the Passover, was approaching, and the chief priests and the teachers of the law were looking for some way to get rid of Jesus, for they were afraid of the people. Then Satan entered Judas, called Iscariot, one of the Twelve. And Judas went to the chief priests and the officers of the temple guard and discussed with them how he might betray Jesus. They were delighted and agreed to give him money. He consented, and watched for an opportunity to hand Jesus over to them when no crowd was present.
As I was meditating on this passage today, I found myself struggling to put myself in Judas’ shoes. What would it take for me to betray Jesus? But as I thought from his perspective, I realized something. There must have been a lot of moments, small disappointments, that led up to this moment of betrayal. At some point back in Judas’ past, Jesus had not lived up to the standard of what Judas thought he should be. And since that point, small moments, slights, and disappointments had been adding up. To the point that a true believer became jaded. A disciple turned into a thief. A savior was betrayed for 4 months wages.
Judas, like the rest of the nation of Israel, had been waiting for the Messiah for a long long time. 400 long years had passed without one prophet, one word from God. And now, Jesus enters the scene. What would they hope for in a savior, this tiny, downtrodden nation? A warrior king? A fierce deliverer? A strong leader with the courage, the riches, and the fierce will to restore the Glory of Israel?
Instead, they got a carpenter. A man who tells parables instead of issuing rallying cries. Who spurns the religious elite for a band of outsiders, foreigners and misfits. A man who in no way is living up to the savior Judas had built up in his head. To me, the only way this betrayal makes sense is if it is built out of bitterness- broken dreams and unmet expectations.
All of this begs the question: Who do I want Jesus to be?
So I sat with it.
The first few things that came to mind were born out of my immediate desires:
- Under Control
Then, I tried to dig deeper into that. What came to mind- compassionate (to realize that my striving, to see that I am seeking to please), listening (to hear my need for direction, my pleas for mercy), Loud (to speak above my constant clamoring to hear Him).
As I sat, thinking of what I truly needed in a Savior, a final thought.
I need Jesus to be something outside of my constructs. In order for him to be safe, and in order for him to be sovereign, he must be bigger than me, higher than me. He must have an eternal perspective, to see all stories that weave together into The Story. To be fully for me, He must not be caught up in my daily whims, tumults, and crises. To be worthy of my faith, to be the true hope of the world, he must be exactly what he is. Human. Divine. Sovereign. Just. Merciful. Unexpected.
When the men came to Jesus, they said, “John the Baptist sent us to you to ask, ‘Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?’”
At that very time Jesus cured many who had diseases, sicknesses and evil spirits, and gave sight to many who were blind. So he replied to the messengers, “Go back and report to John what you have seen and heard: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor. Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me.”