(RNS) Judas is a name I have never seen on a nametag. A mother would sooner name her son “Killer” than Judas. Synonymous with treachery, betrayal and evil, this infamous name conjures up faces akin to Saddam Hussein or Hitler.
But maybe there is more to consider about the man who betrayed Jesus, especially at this time of year when we celebrate Easter.
You don’t have to be brought up in the church to be familiar with the story. Twelve men, called disciples, were selected to accompany Jesus and spread his message. Judas was not only one of the 12; he was so trusted that he was selected as treasurer.
After three years of witnessing Jesus walk on water, raise the dead, calm the winds and waves, and perform countless other miracles, Judas decided to sell Jesus out for 30 pieces of silver. As one of the most privileged men in history, who ate and slept daily near Jesus, Judas showed up at night with a crew of bloodthirsty Roman soldiers, walked up to Jesus and kissed him, giving the crew a secret sign to have Jesus arrested.
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In response, Jesus simply asks the question “You betray the Son of Man with a kiss?” What follows is an execution for the innocent Jesus and a suicide for the guilty Judas.
While we refuse to admit the likeness, in some ways our reflection looks a lot like Judas. Not only are we guilty of the same murder we lay at Judas’ doorstep, we also have some of the same issues that led to his demise.
1. Living a double life.
Judas faced a huge inner struggle, which no one knew. Feelings of doubt, uncertainty, violence, lack of faith and unrealized expectations were running through his mind. He was teaching and serving others with such a flawless performance that none of the other disciples knew he was a doubter. The proof of this was at the Last Supper when Jesus mentioned one of them was going to betray him: None of the other disciples knew it was Judas.
How many of us are similarly saddled without peace and facing inner turmoil, while those closest to us have no idea the depth of our struggle and confusion?
2. Encountering others who are inconsiderate of our pain.
Judas was surrounded by religious people who were cold and indifferent. The people who should have cared the most, cared the least. Judas went to the religious leaders to return the blood money and explain he had betrayed innocent blood. It was the perfect time to reach out to a man who was obviously on the ledge. Their response showed they were all show and no go when they replied, “What is that to us?” In modern-day vernacular, this could be translated to “It’s your problem” or “We don’t give a rip.” Of all the people who should have shown compassion, it should have been these leaders.
People who have been shunned by professing Christians, the church or religious leaders can be found everywhere. Regrettably, many of us have been on both the giving and receiving end of this mistake.
3. Plagued by loneliness and regret.
After finding no relief from his conscience or his demons, Judas became poisoned with thoughts of suicide. Wanting to escape from the hell within him, he threw a rope over a tree and hanged himself.
I regularly meet or correspond with numerous people who have either attempted suicide or are contemplating it. There are people from every segment of society who are battling this issue. Whether it’s us or someone else in the grip of self-violence, loneliness or regret, we should be committed to finding or offering assistance.
Easter is a time we celebrate Jesus walking out of the tomb, yet Easter should also be a time to celebrate the forgiveness He offered. After all, like Judas, we are guilty of the same betrayal.
For those of us who are believers, may we never forget our obligation to reach out to others living a double life and who are facing indifference, loneliness and regret. Undoubtedly, we are the most qualified because the best person to reach a “Judas” is a person who used to be one.
(Jay Lowder is an evangelist, founder of Jay Lowder Harvest Ministries and author of “Midnight in Aisle 7.” Follow him on Twitter at @jaylowder or @jlhministries)