Mark 14:10-11: 10Then Judas Iscariot, one of the Twelve, went to the chief priests to betray Jesus to them. 11They were delighted to hear this and promised to give him money. So he watched for an opportunity to hand him over.
We cannot be certain that Judas’ betrayal of Jesus actually happened on Wednesday. This event may have taken place late on Tuesday. Regardless of when Judas made his deal, it is a significant turning point in the story, as it led to the arrest, trial, and crucifixion of Jesus.
There is a lot of mystery surrounding Judas’ betrayal and so many questions we can ask. In Luke’s gospel, it says that Satan entered into Judas. Did Judas have any choice in the matter? Was there any way Judas could have escaped Satan’s grip? If He didn’t betray Jesus, what would have happened? These are all tough questions and I don’t pretend to have the answers. But I do want to look at something interesting that happened after the betrayal.
Judas wasn’t the only disciple to betray Jesus. Peter, one of the most passionate disciples, denied Jesus three times out of fear. While Judas’ betrayal led to suicide, Peter’s denial led to a deeper relationship with Jesus in the end. How did these two men, who made similar poor choices, end up on two completely different roads?
Peter chose to reengage in his story with Jesus. Judas chose to despair. After Jesus was resurrected, He met Peter on the beach for breakfast (John 21). There, they shared a meaningful conversation in which Peter reaffirmed his love for Jesus and Jesus reaffirmed His calling on Peter’s life.
By the end of Peter’s ministry, he was so committed to Jesus that he wanted to be crucified upside down. He did not consider himself worthy to die in the same manner his Master did.
Could this same kind of transformation have happened in Judas’ life after his betrayal? I don’t see why not. Jesus has always been quick to offer mercy and grace to anyone who asks. Even as Judas was betraying Him, Jesus called him “Friend.” (Mathew 26:50). For some reason though, Judas refused to engage in the process of restoration.
We all have times when we feel like we have “betrayed” Jesus. Maybe not to the extent Judas did, but we feel the guilt nonetheless. Perhaps a friend uses His Name in vain, and we laugh. Maybe we don’t stand up for the things Jesus wants us to stand up for. Regardless of what our “betrayal” is, we have the choice to either take the path of Judas or the path of Peter.
As we march closer to Good Friday, the day of Jesus’ crucifixion, let us reflect upon how broken and in need of a Savior we truly are. For even as mankind was betraying Him, Jesus was crying out to God to offer us forgiveness.