Philip Yancey, in his book, The Jesus I Never Knew, says about Jesus, “More amazing is his refusal to perform and to overwhelm. God’s terrible insistence on human freedom is so absolute that he granted us the power to live as though he did not exist, to spit on his face, to crucify him.” God does not exact obedience from us as though we were mere subjects of a dictator. Instead, God wants our hearts in a free response of love because God desires to be our loving parent and for us to be God’s dearly loved children. God risks rejection for the sake of a free and loving relationship with us.
Jesus took that risk when he first called Judas Iscariot to follow him. He took that risk again when he shared in table fellowship with Judas, knowing full well Judas’ intentions to betray him. Jesus extended his love and grace one last time as he called Judas “friend” the night of his arrest. But Jesus would not force loyalty and faithfulness from Judas. It was Judas’ free choice.
We all, like Judas, have betrayed Jesus. We would be deceiving ourselves if we denied the truth of this fact. We compromise here and there for the sake of making a good impression. We rationalize our behavior instead of making the hard choice to walk in the narrow road. Each time we choose for ourselves, we betray Jesus. But instead of falling into despair over our sin like Judas, we can come to Jesus who took the guilt and shame of our sin upon himself. Until we first acknowledge and confess the bad news of our betrayal, we will not be able to hear with deep-felt gratitude, the Good News of Jesus’ forgiveness.
—Ms. Susie Wong
- How have you betrayed Jesus? What did you betray him for? Was it worth it?
- Do you view God as a hard taskmaster demanding a hard lifestyle, or do you see God as a loving parent wanting only good for us?
- What is the motive or reason behind your obedience to God?
- Instead of focusing on giving up all to follow Jesus, what will you gain? How does this compare with what the world has to offer?
How Do I Act?
- Reflect on how much Jesus has forgiven you. Give thanks and praise to him for his grace and mercy.
- Think of someone who has hurt or disappointed you. Follow Jesus’ model of forgiveness, and initiate steps toward forgiveness and reconciliation.
- Name today’s “30 pieces of silver,” the things or people that entice you from following Jesus. Create a plan with someone on how to resist these temptations.
- Volunteer at a service agency (a crisis hotline or an abuse shelter). If you can’t counsel, offer to do office work.