The Holy Week Devotions Day 6

Apr 6, 2023 | by Stacy Birks

“People of The Passion: Who were they? Who are we?”

So much has been written about the days of Jesus, just before he returned to be with the Father. At some level it’s hard to imagine another collection of devotions will add anything to the passion story. However, every time we approach the written word of God, we can expect His Spirit to guide us, instruct us, convict us, teach us, and give us hope, just to name a few benefits. Our prayer, as you walk the walk of Holy Week, this year, is that through the interactions between Jesus and OTHERS, you will see both His self and yourself more clearly, so that His life, death and resurrection come alive to you again (or, maybe, for the first time). Lord bless!

– Majors Rob & Stacy Birks (San Diego Kroc Center Administrators/Pastors)

Thursday April 6                                                                                      Matthew 27:1-10

The Betrayer

“I have sinned,” he said, “for I have betrayed innocent blood.” (v. 4a NIV)

How many times have you read the account of Judas, the disciple who betrayed Jesus, and mentally wagged your finger, saying, “tsk-tsk,” in disgust, questioning what he was thinking?  Why did he abandon his friend?  How did he so easily forget he was loved by Jesus?  When did he dismiss the mission and decide to selfishly trade his soul for money?  Did the pressures of his responsibilities contribute?  Maybe it was the constant feeling of being looked down upon. This was his chance to make something happen, and make something, as well.  To be “a Judas” according to the dictionary, literally means to be a traitor, especially one who betrays under the guise of friendship; being deceitful and betraying their friends or country. ( Every good vs. evil story needs a bad guy, right? It can be so easy to villain-ize Judas – too easy. After all, he did the dirty deed.  He twisted the beauty and intimacy of a kiss.  He brought the mob in to take Jesus out.  Did he know his friend and Rabbi would soon be taken out?

In the poem, Judas, Who Were You? the author Susan Williams writes,

            You weren’t that different, though, were you?

            Others saw miracles – and turned away

            Others heard His voice calling them – and turned away

            Others were given the choice between Barabbas and Him.

            We will always ask you why

            While we too deny…

Judas wasn’t the only “Judas,” in those final days of the passion.  He wasn’t alone in his decision to take the road most traveled – the one that leads to desertion and disappointment.  His friends, also friends of Jesus, turned on Jesus as well.  Read about it in the Gospel accounts. Let’s pause, before we paint those early Jesus followers with a broad betrayal brush.  We all have the potential to betray Jesus, to be a “Judas”.  It stings to accept, truly, but it is the truth.

            …when we do not love our fellow man

            When we turn away from the Eternity of Him.      

As the title of the poem asks the reader, ask yourself, too, “who are you, Judas?” What sinister similarities do we share? And before we leave the cautionary tale of Judas, we should note that it could’ve ended so differently for him, even though he’s committed the betrayal. The money – and his heart – could’ve been returned to its owner. It was only a prayer away.

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