Judas, Jesus’ Friend
John Schmidt 3/3/05
Mt 26:48 Now he that betrayed him gave them a sign, saying, Whomsoever I shall kiss, that same is he: hold him fast. 49 And forthwith he came to Jesus, and said, Hail, master; and kissed him.
50 And Jesus said unto him, Friend, wherefore art thou come?
In the light of Jesus’ knowledge of what was about to happen in the Garden; and in the more piercing knowledge of what Judas himself was about to do in identifying Him to the band of soldiers, Jesus received the deceitful and hypocritical kiss from Judas – and did not sweep him away in anger, or hurt, or disgust, or rejection, or condemnation, as many of us would have been tempted to do, but rather addressed him meekly, mildly, and with the still-outstretched hand of friendship and comradeship, calling him “Friend.”
This is one of the most touching moments in all the life of Jesus because of how clearly it demonstrates His attitude toward those who sin against Him. It is not so much that light is shined on the way he regards sin in general, but rather sins of betrayal. These must be among the most heinous of all, because they are committed in the full light of who He is, who we are, and what we are really doing.
Judas was not simply acting out of simple greed for the thirty pieces of silver offered by the chief priests for revealing Jesus’ location – he made a conscious decision to reject and betray the One he had constantly followed for three and a half years. He saw Jesus give sight to one born blind. He consciously rejected miracles he personally witnessed in the cleansing of lepers. He was there observing when a paralyzed man was lowered through the roof of a home by four friends. He saw their faith, and saw Jesus forgive his sins and then heal him in front of the skeptics, revealing who He really was. He had seen Jesus raise the dead: Jairus’ daughter, the widow’s only son, Lazarus. He witnessed the miracle of Jesus walking on the water – and then beckoning Peter to join Him. Jesus calmed the storm that was sinking their boat, and then calmed the storm in the heart of the Demoniac of Gardara. He witnessed the change in a man who could not be tamed, now sitting at Jesus’ feet, in his right mind, begging Jesus to let him come with him. He himself partook of the miraculous loaves and fishes along with thousands of others. He had even been sent forth and saw God perform miracles through his own hands – healings, and even the casting out of demons in Jesus’ name. He had seen all this, and yet betrayed that same Jesus in the Garden. In light of what he knew about Jesus, and who Jesus must have been – it was a betrayal of the highest order.
It was to this man – a man acting against everything that he knew was right – that Jesus used the term “friend.” If it were one of us and not Jesus there in the Garden, and we were feeling particularly spiritual that night, we ourselves might use the term “friend”, but we could never entirely rid ourselves of the charge of sarcasm, or insincerity - but not Jesus. He is the soul of honesty and is totally guileless. It is impossible for Him to lie; therefore we know that when He called Judas “friend” He really meant it. Despite Judas’ incredible betrayal, Jesus still regarded him as a friend and continued to leave the door open for him to be Jesus’ friend.
So it is with us. Jesus is truly the most open, meek and understanding friend that any human being could ever have. He is so remarkable in the extent of His love and so willing to be hurt and misunderstood – even betrayed – and yet still hold forth the offer of love and forgiveness and acceptance! Here is a God who can be approached by the worst of sinners if they are simply willing to be His friend and learn of Him.
I love Him because I know that I am far from perfect – so much so that I am in distress much of the time due to my failures. Some are accidental but the worst of them are those done in the light, like Judas’. The word “friend” spoken to Judas also speaks to my heart and comforts me enormously, for I am far more like Judas than I dare admit.
Thank you for being willing to be my friend, Lord Jesus. I love you all the more for it. I will gladly accept your offer of friendship and spend my life getting to know you better and appreciating just how wonderful you are.