Judas walked with Christ for years. He was as close as a brother, and he loved Jesus.
Can you imagine? They walked hundreds of miles together in the quiet countryside. They ate, slept, and worked together. Most days were probably filled with laughter and joking, during days of work to do what Jesus asked them — to bring people to understand the law and realize that God is Love. And Judas was there, in the midst of it all, the whole time. He was a comrade, a friend, and a brother. He worked just as hard as the next, faltering no more than the rest.
When I imagine what Judas was really like, he always has a few qualities that seem pretty typical of moody adolescents. I imagine him being pretty stubborn, and struggling to let go of what he had been taught, how he understood, and what he knew from experience. He probably maintained a very critical view of the world — even when learning at the feet of Jesus, he was apt to over-analyze and challenge everything. He wasn’t unintelligent or apathetic. He left everything to follow this man. Surely there was a reason? A GOOD reason?
Judas, understandably, got impatient. The days had turned to weeks, the weeks to months, and the months to years. Jesus kept talking about how he was fulfilling the prophecies, but nothing was happening. How Judas waited for the day when the Teacher would overthrow everything and claim it for his own! Then, Jesus started sharing a new understanding of what those prophets meant. He was to die a horrific death, without doing anything to deserve it. He wasn’t going to be the rebel, the revolutionary… he would do nothing wrong. Still, he would be murdered, his followers would scatter, and all would be okay because he was the “Son of God.”
Peter was the one that believed without question. Judas was not. They were both searching for the Truth, but one was more likely to be open to it than the other. I can hear Judas asking one of his brother disciples in a hushed whisper, “Do you think he REALLY is of God? Is he not just a great teacher? That’s enough for me!”
While reflecting on his role in the story of salvation this past week, my heart broke for Judas. What misery he brought upon himself! If the heart of God breaks at the loss of a soul, Judas was no less than any other. But how could he manage to go that far? Why did he never call Jesus, “Lord”? How was one of the original brotherhood lost?