Entwined within the momentous story of the arrest and trial of our Lord we read today is the tragic story of Judas Iscariot. He went to th chief priests and said, “What will you give me if I hand him over to you?” [Matt 26 v.15]  What made him do this?  He had witnessed the remarkable miracles of his Master.

When a large number of those following Jesus had turned away from him grumbling about his hard sayings, “Jesus said to the twelve, ‘Will you also go away as well?’ [John 6 v.67]   They, with Peter as their spokesman, said, “Lord, to whom shall we go?  You have the words of eternal life; and we have believed and come to know that you are the holy one of God” [v.68-69]

Jesus then commented that one of them was a devil!  Did Judas realize what he meant?  We doubt it!  On another occasion we are told that “he was a thief and having charge of the moneybag used to help himself to what was put into it” [John 12 v.6]

We wonder why Jesus did nothing to stop this, he must have known.  Yet, we read in Matthew 27, that when he “saw that Jesus was condemned, he changed his mind and brought back the thirty pieces of silver … saying, ‘I have sinned by betraying innocent blood’” [v.4]  Why did it take him so long to realize it was a sin?

The explanation that occurs to us is that, having witnessed several occasions when Jesus eluded attempts to arrest him, he was sure he would do so again! The best example of this is Luke 4 v.29,30 when they “brought him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, so that they could throw him down the cliff. But passing through their midst, he went away. ”  Judas saw a clever opportunity to get a large among of money out of the religious leaders.   It was a huge shock when Jesus was arrested and put on trial.  Judas was “a double-minded man” – that James warned about! [1 v.8]  Let us make absolutely sure we are not!
The lesson for us is to see how blind apparently committed followers of Christ can be as to what is wrong behaviour.  They can listen, and feel that they believe in the words of eternal life and follow Jesus – blind to the fact that following Jesus means they must become more and more like him.

Jesus does not act to prevent our bad behaviour; followers of Jesus are allowed to experience tests to see whether they are really converted or not – because conversion –  means changing our ways – which begins with the way our minds work! Meditative reading of God’s word provides the ‘food’ to do that.

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