My thoughts (David Squire):
Have you ever seen the movie The Last Temptation of Christ? It was controversial when it came out in 1988, to the point of violence — even molotov cocktails thrown into theatres. It shows us an interpretation of the human side of a Jesus who was “fully human and fully divine,” and who struggled to understand his divinity.
It also gives us a fascinating portrait of Judas Iscariot. In the beginning of this film, Judas is a revolutionary who wants to revolt against Roman rule, and he sees Jesus as a conduit to making that happen.
So whether Judas’ motivation for the betrayal of Christ was satan who had entered into him, or his own misunderstanding of Jesus’ purpose, it’s easy to see Judas as the ultimate villain. We think to ourselves, “I could never do something like that.”
But do we do what Judas did, only in less dramatic fashion?
It’s easy to be “pals” with Jesus — to look up to him as a friend or big brother. But there’s really not much obligation in a relationship like that, and it’s all for our benefit. Jesus will be there when I’m sad, he’ll let me feel like I have someone to talk to, but don’t give me direction, Jesus, heavens no!
And that’s where Judas ran into trouble. I think it’s clear he didn’t understand who Jesus was, or grasp what Jesus asked of him.
The following scripture is one I’ve dwelled on for years — and I often think I’m no closer to understanding how to implement it than when I started:
You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’
But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.
And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.
You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’
But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.
For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?
You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
And there’s a lot more where that came from.
So what’s my point here? Judas didn’t get it — and he threw away an incredible opportunity. How often do we not get it, and we settle for a convenient “buddyship” with Jesus, when we could be “children of our Father who is in heaven”?
Thought and prayer for the day: Jesus, in your words we find life — even when they’re hard to follow. Don’t let me be oblivious as Judas was. Help me to let your message sink down deep within me.
We encourage you to include a time of prayer with this reading. If you need a place to get started, consider the guidelines on the How to Pray page.