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Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Similarities between Judas and Jesus

So Judas threw the money into the temple and left. Then he went away and hanged himself. - Matthew 27:5
In this verse we see the fate of Judas, the one who betrayed Jesus, taken by remorse he goes and commits suicide.

But I'm not here to talk about suicide; rather, I'd like to mention two similarities between Judas' death and Jesus' one: they both fulfilled the prophecy of Deuteronomy 21:23 that whoever dies hanging on a pole is under God's curse, since they both died that way, hanging on a pole (in Judas' case, strangled, in Jesus' case, crucified) even though their deaths were completely different in almost every other reason; and they both died voluntarily, but I'll come back to this.

When I say that they both fulfilled the prophecy of the old testament, I'm pretty shocked to see that even when we are most alike our Lord and Savior, even to the point of walking on His shoes down to the letter of fulfilling biblical prophecies, we have to be sure of what, in the end, is our purpose, our goal. You see, only a few days earlier all his disciples told Jesus they would die for Him if it would be necessary. But when we analyse the events that occurred during the arrest, trial and execution of Jesus, we are confronted with the fact that all of his disciples, specially his closest friends, disowned Him and that teaches us the lesson that we cannot walk alongside with Jesus if we don't intend on going all the way with Him, even if that means dying the way He did. The 'coincidence' is that though every disciple said they would die if they had to, the first one to actually do it was Judas, even if it was not for the sake of following Jesus, instead, by the remorse he felt.

This is something I've talked a lot already in other posts, over and over again from time to time I bring this up, remorse is never something that should motivate our actions. Remorse is not repentance, and we must have this clear in our hearts that remorse is only the guilt we feel when we are exposed when someone finds out the bad we did, it's the humiliation and shame that comes from the outside, not from the inside, and as such, it's shallow, it's not persistent, it does not lead us to change. Repentance, on the other hand, comes from a heart that recognizes that whatever we did was wrong because it offended someone, or even if it has no one else involved other than ourselves, it offended God who created us and gave us a purposeful life, and Who is Holy. Looking at Judas' life we can see clearly (and we did not even need the explicit use of the word 'remorse' on the scripture to see that) that it was remorse what he felt, not true repentance. On remorse he walked half way of what he could and should have walked on repentance: he tried to give back the money taken by his betrayal of Jesus, he actually had the courage no other disciple had to confront the religious leaders on what they were doing, but that was it. He stopped short when he decided his own fate by killing himself.

Both Judas and Jesus fulfilled that prophecy, the former when he betrayed Jesus, and so his death hanging on a pole was not only circumstantial fulfillment of the word that speaks about being under God's curse on that he died the way he did (I have no idea what went through his mind, if he, for instance, actually came to realize that the death he chose was actually fulfilling that word), but also on the fact that he, being the one who was immediately responsible for the death of the Son of God, and God Himself, was deserving of such curse; and the latter when He, the perfect one, the one and only person on this world without a sin, died a sinful's man death, a death to represent us all, to carry all of our sins, all of our burdens, all of our faults and failures to the presence of God who, remember, is Holy and cannot tolerate sin. Thus, Jesus' death fulfills that same prophecy by receiving the curse we all deserved. Imagine for a minute if you can, someone paying the penalty, the price, for something someone else did. Now try to picture it some million times. That was what happened to Jesus when He was separated from his own Father by the faults of every person on this earth. The enormous curse of being separated from his Father, something that He never felt before, and was not deserving, was unbearable, and even so He sustained that in love for us.

The second similarity is that they both died voluntarily. In the case of Judas there isn't much to talk about since he committed suicide. He took his time to think of a way to end his life. It was not at random, it was not by chance, it was not something that happened to him that he could not escape from. He chose. How many of us can actually think this: I'm going to die march 13th, 2067? Unless we go and die the way Judas died, there's no way we can foresee that. So it took Judas his will to decide when - the day - that he died (and looking at scripture, we could say with a certain degree of certainty that it was the same day Jesus died, another 'coincidence' perhaps?) and the way, out of so many possible, to do it. But Jesus also voluntarily gave himself for us. He did not deserve his death, and certainly not dying the way He did. He could have avoided going to Jerusalem, He could have called angels from heaven to defend him, or even by use of his mighty voice He could have stopped everything. But He knew that was His mission, dying for us all, dying as a ransom for many. Jesus surrendered himself on our behalf, He willingly chose to go all the way, stating by his death that it was finished, it was all.

By looking at these similarities between Judas' death and Jesus' one, I cannot stop to think of the verse of 2 Timothy 2:20 that speaks about articles that we have in our houses, some separated to special purposes, and others relegated to common use, or even to 'infamous' uses... Jesus separated himself to God to fulfill his word in a purposeful, special way (the most special, in any case). Judas also separated himself to fulfill that same word by voluntarily choosing to betray Jesus, and by voluntarily choosing to end his life the way he did, only that he separated himself in a dishonorable way. The question that bothers me, the question that won't go away is this: am I that similar to Jesus and yet that different, as Judas was? Do I set myself aside from common use so that God can use me in a purposeful, special way to glorify Him, to bless other people, or do I put myself in a position of someone that has no special value, or worse, someone who brings nothing but shame and disgrace to God and his people?

My prayer today is that 1) I recognize that the death of Jesus was because of me, and this be enough for me to repent, and separate myself for good use by the Lord; 2) that whatever similarities there are between my life and the life of Jesus do not stop short, but go all the way, even if I too have to die, that my life would not and will not be a betrayal of Jesus, a denial of what He did. God bless.