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He made a decision...then the decision made him.

It seems impossible this could happen.

Judas Iscariot – a man whose name went

down in infamy. I have been thinking an awful

lot about him, wondering. . . what happened with him?

Did Judas Iscariot’s mother know he was a bad apple? Did she see it coming? These questions have been burning in my mind, as I have been thinking about the most evil act ever committed. When did things go so very wrong with Judas? And why?

Think of it. B.C. This is how it would have been for the twelve disciples who Jesus called to follow him, their lives could easily be divided: life Before Christ, life with Christ in 3+ years of ministry, and life that came after. No matter Judas’ upbringing--if his dad beat him, his mother left him, he was bullied or never fit in with his peers, once Jesus called him to be his disciple, it would seem that whatever came before ought to be healed—his thinking set right. Wouldn’t that follow? After all, Judas Iscariot, his name meaning Judas the man from Kerioth1, was up close and personal, 24 hours a day with the Son of God for more than three years. . . how could this not have redeemed him from any corrupting evil?

And there’s this. His fellow band of brothers, the other 11, trusted Judas Iscariot to be their treasurer, the keeper of any money they had, though apparently, they did not know that he was consumed by greed and helped himself to their money when he wanted2. Oh, and it was Judas who was outraged when Mary anointed Jesus with the costly perfume3, and finally Judas who went to the chief priests and scribes to offer up Jesus for money4.

Of course, we are considering Passover week, and Jesus has made quite a stir, from the moment he came down the Mt. of Olives and into Jerusalem on Sunday. He created a ruckus when he cleared the Temple of the thieving moneychangers and called out the Jewish leaders in his teaching. Enough was enough. Though the town was bursting at the seams with observant Jews, Jesus was gaining too much popularity, he had to go, and under the cloak of night would be best. Judas knew where to find him—the garden that he loved. ‘But it will be dark out there—how will we know which of the 12 is Jesus?’ they asked. ‘Leave it to me,’ Judas likely smirked. ‘He won’t suspect a thing--I will greet him with a kiss as I always do.’

Mark writes, “And immediately, even as Jesus said this [my betrayer is here]5, Judas, one of the twelve disciples, arrived with a crowd of men armed with swords and clubs. They had been sent by the leading priests, the teachers of religious law, and the elders. The traitor, Judas, had given them a prearranged signal: “You will know which one to arrest when I greet him with a kiss. Then you can take him away under guard.” As soon as they arrived, Judas walked up to Jesus. “Rabbi!” he exclaimed, and gave him the kiss.

Then the others grabbed Jesus and arrested him. But one of the men with Jesus pulled out his sword and struck the high priest’s slave, slashing off his ear.

Jesus asked them, “Am I some dangerous revolutionary, that you come with swords and clubs to arrest me? Why didn’t you arrest me in the Temple? I was there among you teaching every day. But these things are happening to fulfill what the Scriptures say about me.”

Then all his disciples deserted him and ran away. One young man following behind was clothed only in a long linen shirt. When the mob tried to grab him, he slipped out of his shirt and ran away naked.”6 The naked guy? No one really knows who it was unless of course, some have suggested it could have been Mark inserting himself in the story. Huh.

So disturbing. Jesus and the 11 would have heard them coming--lanterns in one hand, clubs and swords clanging in the still of the late night. . . seriously, as though they would have to take Jesus by force? Hmmm. . . Jesus arrested, the sacred garden desecrated with the hostile act, and the disciples flee.

And Judas? Well, he must have lurked about in the shadows, because he knew when the Jewish leaders planned to execute Jesus. Matthew tells us he “was seized with remorse and returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders…”7

Too late. The heinous sin of betraying the Lord set a murderous plot in motion that could not be stopped. Seeing that, Judas went out and hanged himself. Tragic. We will never forget his name, but then, neither will God. And dang-it, there ain’t no do overs on this one.

Segue . . . far away in another day and time. Dateline: Long Beach, California. I can see her face so vividly in my mind—sweet Shirley. It was her countenance that was so heartwarming and made her so easy to remember. Since music was a part of every week’s menu in the prayer meeting/Bible study I lead with a large homeless group in the rough town just south of Los Angeles, I loved playing her favorite song—He knows my name . . . I will play it here, but first imagine her with me--weathered brown face, eyes clothed, mostly toothless with a smile from ear to ear, Shirley singing, ‘He knows my name…’ listen to it:

He knows your name too. In fact, your name is on the palm of his hand.8 If he doesn’t smile when he recalls your name, you can change that now and get right with God. Best news ever! ‘Sins to confess and turn away from, guilt or shame that needs to be let go of, O, he is merciful and kind. He will forgive you, set you free and say your name with a smile on his face.

Reach out for Jesus,


in the footsteps of Jesus, gospel of Mark, #47

1 – meaning of name, Judas Iscariot, 2 - John 12.6; 3 – John 12.3-8; 4 – Matthew 26.14-16; 5 - Mark 14.42; 6 – Mark 14.43-52; 7 – Matthew 27.3-5; 8 – Isaiah 49.16

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