judas.png

“.. He that eateth bread with me hath lifted up his heel against me. (John 13:18)

I want to share with you a portion of Ken Gire’s Devotional book, “Moments With the Savior”, which speaks so intimately of Jesus’s betrayal by Judas, and the suffering Jesus felt in His soul because of it..    I will record here a portion of that chapter that really touched my heart. (It is no coincidence that I had come to this part of this devotional right after what the Lord had shown me of the same incident in the Scriptures.):

“When the tide of popularity had turned against Jesus, Judas had started looking ahead, taking precautions to protect himself. , Socking away a little more money here and there.. just in case.

For Judas was a practical man.” (……..)

“…This Passover, Jesus and the Twelve withdraw to an Upper Room.  It is a quiet respite from tonight’s teeming crowds- and from the turbulent storm that awaits tomorrow.

In His soul, Jesus feels the sharp winds which harbinger that storm.  He feels the chill of betrayal, of desertion , of denial.

Jesus and His disciples gather around a low-lying table to celebrate the feast.  John reclines to the right of Jesus;  Judas, to the left at the place  of honor.  They stretch slantwise on padded mats, propping themselves on the left arm, leaving the other free to handle the food.

Each portion they handle is a sermoned echo of the nation’s first Passover.  The bowl of bitter herbs, vinegar and salt is a reminder of the bitter years of slavery.  The flat cakes of yeastless bread are a reminder of their hurried exodus.  And finally, there is the roasted lamb, a symbol of deliverance.

What broke Pharaoh’s oppressive fist that first Passover was a final climactic plague- a visit from the angel of death to kill every firstborn son.  To spare the Jews from that fate, God instructed them to kill a lamb and sprinkle its blood on the sides and tops of the doorframes outside their homes.  When the angel of death saw this evidence of faith, it passed over that house and traveled on to another.

Tonight Heaven will be preparing its Passover Lamb.  An innocent Lamb, without spot or blemish.. led to the slaughter, silent before its shearers.. stricken, pierced for our transgressions.

His blood will be sprinkled on wooden crossbeams outside the city, and all Jerusalem will behold the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world.

Several oil lamps dot that Upper Room, sending a gallery of shadows to watch from the walls.  Satan is among them, watching, gloating, waiting for the opportune moment to step from behind those shadows.

Earlier in that room, Jesus had washed the disciples’ feet, teaching them a final lesson about serving.  Two of those feet belonged to Judas.  So callused the heels.  Yet so warm the water, so soft the towel, so tender the hands that washed them.  How convicting it must have been for Judas.  And how crushing for Jesus.

Seated now at the table, Jesus’ forehead is furrowed, His brows knit, His eyes intense.  He has so much to tell His disciples.  But so little time.  A hush falls over the room as He speaks, “…He who shares My bread has lifted up his heel against Me.”

It has been said that forgiveness is the fragrance the violet sheds on the heel that crushed it.  Could there be a fragrance as sweet in all the world as that of Jesus washing the very heel that was poised to crush Him?

Many things have been said against Jesus. But not even the Pharisees accused Him of not practicing what He preached.  In these last minutes with His betrayer, the Savior exemplifies His own exhortation from the Sermon on the Mount, “You have heard that it was said, “Love your neighbor and hate your enemy” But I say unto you:  “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”

A tremor of remorse quakes within the Savior’s spirit.  It is His task to unmask the traitor.  An unsettling task He takes no delight in.  No longer will Jesus cloak His words in metaphors.   “I tell you the truth, one of you is going to betray Me.”

At the mention of a traitor in their midst, the disciples recoil, shadows miming every move.  At first, there is only a tense, breathless silence.  Then the table is abuzz with whispered questions regarding the traitor’s identity.

“”It is the one to whom I will give this piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish.”

It was customary for the master of the feast to put bits of lamb onto a piece of unleavened bread, dip it into the bitter herb sauce, and hand it to his guests. And it was customary to offer the first piece to the most honored guest.  He hands the bread to Judas.. to take.. and to eat.

The dramatic moment is not only an unmasking of the traitor but a final offer of salvation.  Judas’s pulse quickens, and his face flushes hot and red.  For an awkward but tender moment, the eyes of the betrayer and the Betrayed meet.  A knife of regret cuts an opening in Judas’s soul.  Haltingly he takes the rolled-up piece of bread.  but he can’t quite bring it to his mouth.    Sweat gather’s at his hairline.  He bites his lip.

From the shadows Satan sees the quivering hand.  He sees his pawn is vulnerable.  The prince of darkness counters with a strategic move and enters Judas.

Judas puts down the bread and reaches for his pouch.  The opening is closed.  The pawn is safe.

What you are about to do, do quickly.”

With those words, Jesus seals His fate.  And the fate of Judas.  They would both go their separate ways.  To separate trees.  To separate destinies.

What you are about to do, do quickly.”

It would be the the last command Judas would obey. And it would be the last intimate moment he would spend with the Savior.

Ever.

For Judas was a practical man.


P r a y e r

DEAR MAN OF SORROWS,

How painful that Last Supper must have been for you.  How your heart must have ached……

…”Oh Lord, help me to love my enemies and to pray for those who persecute me or who , in some way, betray me.  Help me not to trade insult for insult, or injury for injury.  Help me to give a blessing instead.  Help me to be a friend who loves as you did at that Last Supper- a friend who loves to the end, even when that love is refused…”

 

Advertisements