“The word of God is living and active…” Hebrews 4:12a
In recent weeks, I have noticed something. The early morning hours, when everything is quiet, the sun has not yet risen and the street lights outside my window are still glowing, are some of the best times to seek the Lord and spend time with Him. Lately when I come to Him it is out of a desperate need for peace and direction. And it is in the quiet moments when He shows me something I need to know rather than something I want to know.
Yesterday morning, the very beginning hours of Good Friday, I rose early. The moon was nearly full outside my window and it was bright which caused me to wake up way earlier than I normally would have. Instead of getting upset that my much-needed sleep was cut short I decided to use my time wisely. Good Friday is one of my favorite days because I always enjoy reminding myself of the sacrifice Jesus made on my behalf as He hung on that cross. The picture of a broken man who possessed the absolute power needed to come down off that wretched cross and He CHOSE to stay there for me. In honor and amazement of His once-for-all sacrifice, I spent a couple of hours seeking Him, yearning to be brought closer to Him and comforted.
As I sat up in my bed and wrapped my blankets around my shoulders to fend off the chill in my room, I reached for beaten-up Bible and opened it to Mark 14. I know passion week is technically over once we reach Good Friday, but I decided to read Mark’s recollection of the passion week and the Passover.
The Gospel of Jesus Christ is without a doubt the most amazing story I have ever read. As a writer and a storyteller, I value good storytelling, even more so when it is a true story. It amazes me that I can read the Gospel, and each of the four accounts of the life of Jesus, multiple times and always come away with something different to hold onto.
Yesterday was all about Judas Iscariot.
Of all the disciples, most pastors, most teachers, most Christians will say they relate the most to Peter. He was the picture of a man who had the biggest desire to follow Christ with everything he had, even insisting to Jesus Himself that he would die before he denied him. He was the man who was challenged to step out of the boat and walk to Jesus on the Sea of Galilee and began to sink when he realized the enormity of what he was doing. Yes, we can all relate to Peter.
But what about Judas?
“No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things I have heard from My Father I have made known to you.” –John 15:15
Jesus called His disciples His friends. Think about who your friends are, your truest and most solid friends. Can you say that you would willingly lay down your life for them? Can you say you love them despite the things they sometimes say or do that hurt you or upset you? Can you say you would stick by their side through all of life’s trials?
That is the kind of friendship Jesus offered to His disciples, all of them, including Judas who would betray Him for 30 simple pieces of silver.
But think about it: Jesus knew each of His disciples intimately just as He knows each of us intimately. Which means He knew ahead of time what each man’s weaknesses were, what their shortcomings were, what their faults were and every single area of life where they would eventually make a massive mistake. He KNEW Judas would be His betrayer. Yet He never held back His friendship from him.
How many of us can honestly say we relate to Judas just as much as we relate to Peter or any of the other disciples?
If we’re being honest, we can all relate. Jesus invites all of us just as we are to come to Him, sit with Him and surrender all of the things about us that, we believe, are the most horrible things. Because here’s the thing about surrendering: Jesus does not want you to come to Him because you think you are good enough. No one is good enough on their own. He wants you to come to Him because you know He is the only one who can make you good enough. He is the only one who can complete you, He is the only one who offers to you what you can never find in this world.
As I sat in my room yesterday morning and the sun was beginning to rise, I continued reading about the friendship Jesus offered to Judas knowing all the while he would betray Him and I came away with a gigantic batch of emotion. Among the emotions: gratitude that I can sometimes be exactly like Judas, choosing something I perceive to better than my Savior, and He still loves me and offers His friendship to me; thankfulness that I have the truest friend in Jesus, and the best example of what friendship should look like; heartbreak because Jesus knew a man He called His friend would betray Him; and amazement that Jesus still chose to love Judas, just as He chooses to love me.
The sun was now fully risen and would eventually be visible so I finished reading my Bible yearning to model my friendships after the example of friendship displayed in the Gospel. It takes a certain fearlessness to resolve yourself to love your friends through thick and thin, to commit yourself to pouring yourself out for the sake of building someone else up, and to trust that God is going to fill you up again at the end of the day. I am thankful I can relate to Judas, and I am thankful for an underlying story of friendship and love offered to an imperfect human being from the embodiment of perfection (Jesus). And I commit myself while challenging all of you to form your friendships on the love of Jesus, nothing else.