Not far from us, there is a famous Passion Play, and it wonderfully portrays the life and death of Jesus. The other day I was asking one of our ministry team members what the play is like. That conversation brought back some memories of a similar play he’d been in some years ago. I asked him what part he played, and he answered a little sheepishly, “I think maybe I was typecast. I played Judas.” Then he went on to explain what an eerie feeling it was to play the one who betrayed our Lord. But, then, haven’t we all?
I’m Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about “Playing Judas.”
It’s an unsettling thought to consider that you or I might ever play Judas in our relationship with Christ – unsettling, but sometimes all too true. Our word for today from the Word of God focuses again on what it can look like to sell out the Son of God.
Matthew 26:14 records it this way, “Then one of the Twelve – the one called Judas Iscariot – went to the chief priests and asked, ‘What are you willing to give me if I hand Him over to you?’ So they counted out for him 30 silver coins. From then on Judas watched for an opportunity to hand Him over.”
The first thing that bothers me about this is that the one who betrays Jesus is one who is really close to Him. And most of us Christians would like to think that we’re close to Him. But that closeness is no guarantee we won’t sell out our Savior when the price seems right. I’m sure if you had told Judas a few months before that his betrayal was going to do this, he would have reacted the same way you and I would do, “No way I’d ever betray Jesus.” But he did.
And it’s convicting to see the value judgment that led to Judas’ betrayal. There was something that seemed worth more to him than Jesus did – something he couldn’t have and also remain true to the Lord. In his case, some silver coins. Some of us have sold out Jesus for a lot less.
I wonder what your sellout price might be – the thing that you would allow to displace Jesus – the thing you would leave Jesus’ way to get? Would you push Jesus aside to have a relationship you know He really doesn’t want you to have? Or to get ahead? To get some friends or to keep your friends? Would you betray Jesus to have more money? To be married? To keep your image? Would you sell out Jesus for a little pleasure? A little relief from your pain? Would you push Jesus aside to have your own way? More importantly, are you betraying Jesus for anything you can’t have and still remain true to Him?
Judas betrayed Jesus and he never came back. While there’s a Judas, there’s also a Peter – one close to Jesus who turns his back on Jesus. But Peter is living proof that a denier, a betrayer, can come back! In fact, when Peter repented with all his heart, all Jesus wanted to know – He asked him three times – was this: “Do you love Me?” Peter did, and Jesus entrusted major spiritual leadership to this one who had once turned his back on Him. You know, he’ll do the same for you. With Jesus, failure doesn’t ever have to be final.
The ugliest role in any story about Jesus is playing Judas. Are you?