HOW JUDAS BECAME A LOSER
We know that Judas Iscariot was a ruthless betrayer. Talking of betrayers, wasnít Peter one of the first among His disciples who betrayed Him? Did he not deny the Lord thrice at a time he was supposed to be standing by His side? What about the other disciples? Except John, everyone simply fled the crucifixion scene.
But the life and fate of Judas is an eye opener to every servant of God. The Bible says Judas left the apostolic ministry and went where he belonged to (Acts 1:25). We might conclude that Judas belonged to hell and so he ended up there. But we too belonged to hell and were heading towards it, but for the intervention of the Lord. His redemptive grace has transformed our lives, changed our destiny and made us eligible for the citizenship of heaven.
The calling Judas received from the Lord was just like that of the other disciples. He was shown the same mercy that the other disciples and sinners were shown. Evidently the Lord loved him even more because Judas was the disciple who was trusted with the moneybag! But subsequently it was proved that Judas was driven more by his ambitions than by the spirit of the mission he was recruited for. And he was driven to hell by his lack of understanding of the Lord.
History Is Being Repeated
Unfortunately, this piece of history has been repeated in the lives of many great servants of God and is a reality with many of us even today. How elated were we when we received His call? Were we not bubbling with enthusiasm and bustling with activity? Our cups were brimming with so much joy and fidelity, and the cause of adding more souls to His kingdom was right on the top of our agenda? But as the days passed by and as we came up the ladder, we became more like authoritarian masters than His servants with a broken spirit. We became more and more insensitive to the essential needs of the work of expanding His kingdom. We became more like the worldly masters trying to boss over the subordinates. Integrity and meekness in our lives and ministries were replaced by pride, vanity, plotting and conspiring. Winning souls and bringing glory to God as top priority got toppled and were replaced by fame and money. Finally, we developed a contradictory image to the ever shining and serving model of meekness the Lord wanted to engrave in us. In our pursuit of money, fame and image building, we started taking the Lord for granted!
Lord Losing Pre-eminence
Judasí fall too was the result of taking the Lord for granted. When a woman broke the alabaster and anointed the Lord with perfume as a mark of her adoration, Judas felt that she was wasting her money on Him (Jn.12:4-6). His estimated worth of the Lord was much less than the worth of the perfume He was anointed with. He had suggested that the money should have been used for a better cause like feeding the poor. It is a pity that Judas failed to know the worth of the Lord even after spending about three and half years in such close proximity to Him. Feeding the poor, the perfume and the thirty silver coins were more valuable to him than the Lord Himself. We all face this professional hazard in our walking with the Lord. In the midst of our becoming very busy with the activities of the ministry, ministry becomes more important than the Lord Himself. The Lord gradually loses His pre-eminent position as the central figure of our life and ministry. In retrospection, we should compare how much of our time is being spent in running the ministry and how much time are we able to spend at the feet of the Lord. Administration, fund raising, politicking--are these not the ones that take the centre stage in our ministries?
There is no alternative to spending quality and personal time with the Lord. The Lord Himself set an example by taking time to be with His Father quite often and kneeling down in His presence. True ministries are built on knees, not on the power of monies! The devil cannot stop the Lord from calling us to ministry with subtle hindrances to distract us. But unknowingly, we become so involved in running and expanding the ministries that the great Lord becomes a distant figure. Moreover, this distance increases as we go further. Before long, the Lord as our top priority is replaced by material goals, as it happened with Judas.
Understand Him More
The Lord wants that His children should understand Him better as the days pass by. The prophet Hosea invites the people of God to know and pursue the knowledge of God (Hos.6:3). And the Lord can be understood well only in the course of ministering to Him and walking hand in hand with Him. That is the blessed privilege reserved for His ministers. The more we minister to Him and minister His Word, the better is our understanding of Him.
The CEO of Operation Nineveh, the prophet Jonah, knew very little about the Lord, in the beginning days of his induction into the ministry. This is the reason why he rebelled against Him. But he ended up acquiring a great asset in terms of his increased understanding of the Lord by the end of the book of Jonah. He became instrumental in saving around 120000 souls of Nineveh, with just a single sermon backed by his increased understanding of God! The prophet Jonah thus got the distinction of being a unique servant of God in terms of the fruits of the ministry even though he was the most rebellious in the beginning.
Judas too could have been a great learner, but he failed miserably. Probably, from the beginning, he had a different agenda in following the Lord. Therefore, the problem was not in the Lordís calling, but in his obedience to His call.
This is true with many of us too. We need to question ourselves about our agenda in following the Lord. Is it to get fame, money or other temporal things? If our focus in following the Lord is not extending the kingdom of God, we are in for a great disappointment.
What adds a new dimension to the tragedy of Judas is that even after he betrayed Jesus, he had an opportunity to repent and return to the Lord. But he did not avail himself of it. He had yet another chance; after realising the blunder, instead of returning to the Lord, sadly he went back to the conspirators. There he threw the thirty coins into the temple as an attempt to undo the damage. This was his added blunder, which proved to be fatal. He had to return disappointed only to hang himself to death in sheer desperation. This was a greater tragedy. The Lordís prayer on the cross was to forgive everyone connected with crucifixion as they knew not what they were doing. Was Judas not included in His prayer?
But Judasí understanding of the Lord was so inadequate and faulty that he thought he merited no forgiveness at all. A great flood of mercy and forgiveness is unleashed from the cross where the Lord bled to His last drop, but here was someone ignorant of all this. The Lord was especially concerned in releasing His extra grace so that the fate of people like Judas would not have to end in such disgrace and tragedy. What pained the Lord more than the lashes of the Roman soldiers and the piercing nails on the cross was the failure of people like Judas in receiving His grace and forgiveness.
Though the other disciples like Peter also betrayed Him, they could receive the Lordís forgiveness. They deserted Him on Thursday night for the fear of life, but were very much there on Sunday morning to become witnesses to His resurrection. They were specially touched by the power of His resurrection and that made all the difference in their lives. The power of resurrection transformed the selfish as the selfless gospel writers, the cowards as martyrs and the persecutors of the church as planters of churches. Judas also could have been among this select group, but for His added blunder of running to the temple priests, instead of running back to the Lord. A life that should have been hailed as a great church planter and emulated by everyone as a martyr thus ended in a great tragedy and hopelessness. One who could have been a blessed instrument in the hands of the Lord in leading people to heaven ended up in the dark environs of the eternal hell.
He Wants Our First Love
The Lord is speaking through Judas to all of us. He wants us to refresh and renew our covenants with Him. He wants us to remember our first love during our days of induction into the ministry.
A Christian couple had spent long years in their wedded life. The husband asked his wife to tell him about one best gift she was expecting from him. She replied that she wanted that impeccable and intensive love he had for her in the early days of their married life. Over the years, the relationship remained, but the love which formed the very basis of the relationship faded into a mere shadow of the original one. This can happen in our relationship with the Lord too.
Recently a young man confessed to me that because of the odd timings of his work in a multinational company, he and his wife are unable to spare quality time with each other. As a result, they frequently got into fights over petty matters. He told me that he decided to change his job before the situation worsened.
Reprioritisation of our lives and ministries alone can revitalise us. Let us be determined to bring the Lord back to the focal point in our lives, families and ministries. Place all that is there in your life into the large and strong hands of the Lord and realise that what we have is so little. Watch then in awe when the gracious Lord adds His own to it and gives it back to you. That is your real potential dear friends. What is added by the Lord to ours is a billion times more than what we have and feel as our own. It happened with many in history and it is going to happen to you too. The fidelity, the joy, the peace and commitment must come back in our lives and ministries. A repentant and revived soul is the strongest force in the world and the redemptive love of the Lord is the greatest transforming power in the world. It flows just by our side. But let us not live and die like Judas who could not make use of it.
The world may categorise us as losers or winners, according to its own standards. But in the sight of the Lord, we are all winners. The small bunch of illiterate and semi-literate disciples of the Lord, who were entrusted with the blessed responsibility of carrying the Gospel to every corner of the world, have done their job well. For this purpose, they faced hungry lions, were ready to be torched alive and finally they laid down their lives happily. Their implicit obedience and unwavering commitment to Him and to His cause did the miracle. We all have better tools and advanced technology is at our aid. But with all this, what we are able to accomplish for the Lord is so little. It is time we all do some introspection.