“‘Do you realise that the hand of the one who is betraying me is at this moment on the table? It’s true that the Son of Man is going down a path already marked out – no surprises there. But for the one who turns Him in, turns traitor to the Son of Man, this is doomsday.’

“They immediately became suspicious of each other and began quizzing one another, wondering who might be about to do this.” Luke 22:21-23 (The Message).

What a disconcerting experience this must have been for Judas! His “secret” plot was right out in the open. Jesus was actually advertising it to the whole group without disclosing the traitor’s identity. Why did He do this?

Was He wanting Judas to know that He was fully aware of what he was up to, and giving him an opportunity to back out of his plan, own up and save himself from the terrible judgment that awaited a traitor? The very fact that He had eaten a meal with him, treating him as the honoured guest, suggests that Jesus was offering Judas a way out and full forgiveness and restoration if he was willing to change his mind.

Was He indicating to Judas, ‘I know what you are up to and, boy, am I going to get you back!’? Would Jesus ever do a thing like that? No, that was not His yoke. His yoke was to show mercy and compassion and He was extending mercy to His enemy right up to the moment when Judas finished his dastardly deed with a kiss.

It was certainly not intended to make the disciples suspicious of one another. But, true to human nature, that is exactly how they reacted. Instead of taking stock of their own intentions, they became suspicious of one another which ended in their quizzing one another instead of searching their own hearts.

Jesus had spent more than three years with this bunch of men. He had handpicked them after a night in prayer with the Father. He had lived in intimate fellowship with them, day and night, teaching and modelling a true son of God, and giving them every opportunity to become like Him.

He had spent precious hours with them in the upper room, sharing a meal with all its rich symbolism, establishing a new covenant which He would sign with His own blood, pleading with them to model His love for them as the hallmark of His disciples and praying for their protection from the evil one and their unity with Him and with one another.

How much fruit had all His efforts borne? Seemingly nothing at this point! A lesser man would have given up, walked away and gone to his death a broken and disillusioned loser. But not Jesus! Even at this eleventh-hour apparent failure, Jesus demonstrated His absolute confidence in the success of His mission and the power of God to transform losers into winners and a messed up, self-centred, bickering bunch of men into passionately loyal, single-minded apostles who would turn the world upside down.

Jesus had painstakingly sown the seed of God’s word. Although it was lying dormant then, given the circumstances that were about to unfold in the next few days, that seed would begin to germinate and grow. These same men, except Judas, would be transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit into fearless witnesses of the resurrection, living and working together in unity and taking on the greatest powers of their day, Caesar and the Roman Empire.

Once again, because Jesus looked beyond the present circumstances to the predetermined outcome of His suffering, He could go with confidence into the fire, knowing that He would emerge the victor, not those who were scheming to eliminate Him. Instead of planning and carrying out their extermination plot, Judas and his accomplices were playing right into God’s hands! But they would still have to take responsibility and pay the price.

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Luella Campbell

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