Day 36 ~ For the Love of Judas

I’ve had Judas Iscariot on my mind the last few days, knowing that this day during holy week is likely when he approached chief priests of the Sanhedrin to cut the deal that would make him rich by giving up the one who chose him first.

There are less than 40 verses in the entire Bible that address Judas, the majority of them found in each of the four gospels. Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Each of these fellow-disciples include Judas in the list of the original twelve Jesus called, albeit with a parenthetical note that he was the betrayer of Jesus, lest it be forgotten how shamefully he treated the very one who called him.

Thinking more deeply about the role Judas played in the story of Jesus often leads to questions of predestination and free will, and it would be easy to get lost in the theological weeds here. So I’m choosing a different path for the sake of Day 36. =) What’s on my heart this Tuesday of Holy Week is actually less about Judas anyway, and more about Jesus….

Think back to the beginning when the carpenter from Nazareth set out on a journey to gather his closest followers and build the ministry team he would need to sustain the work that was going to be required. When Jesus called Judas to be one of the twelve, (Mark 3:14-19), the others had no idea how the story would play out…. but Jesus? And this is where I’m amazed….

Jesus chose Judas.

Not just once, but every moment of every day for three years. And I found myself thinking, “Yea, but he couldn’t have trusted him all that time. Jesus probably just tolerated Judas in a sacrificial kind of way and treated him as lesser than the other eleven.” But that doesn’t really sound like Jesus, does it? So what that leads me to believe is this….

Jesus loved him. Jesus loved Judas every bit as much as he loved all of the other men and women who followed him. All of the stories we have in the New Testament about Jesus and disciples? Judas was there. He was on the boat when Jesus calmed the storm, walked with him from town to town, telling the good news, healing the sick and casting out demons. He shared meals with Jesus and got corrected when he overstepped just like all the other disciples. They were a tight knit community of people who were breaking new ground and living big faith in believing in Jesus.

It’s impossible to understand how Judas could have accompanied Jesus all those years and not be transformed more in this intimate discipleship training. As the ministry treasurer, he frequently helped himself to money collected for the poor, something the disciples didn’t know about until after the fact….but Jesus…?

He continued to choose him anyway.

At the anointing of Jesus by Mary in Bethany, it was Judas who rebuked her, claiming the expensive perfume could have been sold and the money given to the poor. How it must have broken Jesus’ heart to look Judas in the eye and say, “You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me.” (John 12:8), knowing the sting of betrayal that was to come….

I wish the story of Judas had ended differently. I wish that, like Peter after his denial of Jesus, Judas had turned his heart toward repentance instead of self-destruction, but there is no doubt that he regretted his betrayal, as scripture tells us he “wept bitterly” when he realized what his selfish gain had done to the very one who had chosen and loved him.

Loved him.

I am moved and amazed at the love that Jesus had for Judas, from those early days of traveling the country together, to bonding through adversity and oppression all the way to the moment Judas gave him up in the garden – with a kiss on the cheek, no less!

And yet…. Jesus loved Judas.

And that’s the very same love that Jesus has for me…. and for you. That kind of love brings me to my knees and compels me to think about how I love others and how I can love more freely and fiercely as modeled by Jesus. I’m sure I can’t do it on my own, but isn’t that what transformation into his likeness is about?

As we enter these final days of Lent, can we just pause here on Day 36 and consider the love God has for us in Christ? This unfathomable act of Jesus to choose us to be his own when we have nothing to give but the willingness to receive.…this at the very heart of our salvation story.

Like those first disciples, Jesus calls us to follow him, then teaches us through the Spirit just HOW to follow and also how to love others as he loves us. Still learning….

All the love,


About Shellie Warren

Welcome ~ I am a mom, a wife, a friend, a sister, a daughter, a dreamer and a writer. But most of all I am a woman of faith - I have a deep longing to know and love....God.
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