And while he was yet speaking, Judas Iscariot, one of the Twelve, came and with him a great crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests and the Scribes and the elders. Now his betrayer had given them a sign, saying, “Whomever I kiss, that is he; lay hold of him, and lead him safely away.” And when he came, he went straight up to him, and said, “Rabbi!” and kissed him. And they seized him and held him. – Mark 14:43-46
This verse is one that continuously comes up during my prayer. I cannot stop replaying the story of what led Judas to betraying Jesus, making the act of betrayal with a kiss, falling into the pit of sin, believing that he can never be forgiven, and taking his own life rather than running back to the mercy of Christ. Wow! There is so much in all of this. Let’s break it down a bit and reflect on our how it affects our own lives.
First, let’s take a moment to remember that Judas was one of the original twelve apostles. He was one of the chosen men to walk side by side with Jesus. He was called by name by the Son of God to follow Him, and his response was ‘yes’. Judas gave up his normal day to day life to be an apostle of Jesus Christ. He was destined for the kingdom of God. His life must have been great! What was it that led him to the betrayal of Christ?
Like all of us, even as a follower of Christ, Judas was tempted by sin. At times he was attracted to the sins of the flesh and the pleasures of this world. He was attracted to what seemed to be an easier, pleasurable, and better way of life. We all know what this is like. Each one of us experiences desires of the flesh that lead us to sin: lust, jealousy, gluttony, vanity, etc. When we give in to sin, what do we do? Do we choose to live in sin and continue to distance ourselves from the Lord, thinking there is no hope? Or, do we turn back to the Lord, knowing that in His great mercy we will be forgiven?
The sins of pride and greed committed by Judas placed him far from Jesus. After he turned Jesus in, he didn’t just disappear from the scene; instead, he returned to the apostles and joined them at the Last Supper. Jesus knew what had been done and even commented on the wrong one of the apostles had done,
“Amen, I say to you, one of you will betray me.” – Matthew 26:21
Judas only response was,
“Surely it is not I, Rabbi?” – Matthew 26:25
After Jesus was arrested and tried, Judas knew he had done wrong,
Then Judas, who betrayed him, when he saw that he was condemned, repented and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders, saying, “I have sinned in betraying innocent blood.” But they said, “What is that to us? See to it thyself.” And he flung the pieces of silver into the temple, and withdrew; and went away and hanged himself with a halter. –Matthew 27:3-5
Judas repented to the chief priests and elders that he had done wrong, but he did not repent to Jesus, his friend, companion, shepherd, master, and God. He did not look into the eyes of mercy, repent, and receive forgiveness for what he had done. Instead, he thought there was nothing more for him. He could never forgive himself, so why could anyone else? Judas was afraid, alone, and lost. Judas gave into the lie of there being no hope for him, and took his own life.
This should hit us to the core. We long to follow Jesus closely, but sin flaunts itself before us to tempt us away from the Master, our Lover, and friend.
Moving forward, I encourage you to look at your own life. What are the sins that are most attractive to you? Maybe you do not know that certain things in your life are a sin and are keeping you from the Lord. Ask the Holy Spirit to enter your heart and help you recognize the places in your life where you betray Jesus.
Once you recognize how you have betrayed Jesus, run to Him for mercy. Look into His eyes, confess what you have done wrong, and allow Him to heal you with His mercy that has no limits. Whatever you have done, know that there is still hope. Do not be afraid, you are not alone, and the Lord will find you. You are chosen, and Jesus will heal your kiss of betrayal with a kiss of merciful love.