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Communion Meditations (2006)

The Betrayer

Originally delivered December 17

Perhaps you've never thought of it this way, but there is great comfort in the way our Lord treated Judas, His betrayer, on the night of the Last Supper. 

·         It's a comfort to know that Christ had the power to escape the Cross - twelve legions of angels, if you recall - but chose instead to be the Lamb of God.  By exposing the betrayer Christ might have effectively prevented the Crucifixion, and triumphed over a secret enemy as well.  But He didn't.

·         It is also a comfort that Christ knew His betrayer - and did not openly condemn him.  When you ask why, the only answer that comes to mind is that Christ knew His purpose:  to seek and save the lost.  Perhaps He yet hoped for repentance from the man.

·         It is a further comfort that, in the most trying and tense period of His life, Christ consistently acted with mercy, even to Judas.  He had no thought of vengeance. 

Each of the disciples looked inside himself and was obliged to ask, "Surely not I, Lord?"  All of them knew themselves to be sinners, capable of such an act.  Remember that Peter, the leader of the disciples, would betray Him three times.  So Christ's forbearance with Judas shows us that even the vilest of sinners has hope in the Cross.

We may look also at what Christ did do about Judas:

·         He began by identifying Judas - to Judas.  Make no mistake, God knows your sin - no one better.  He did this so that Judas would know that such sin could not be hidden.

·         Beyond that, Jesus warns Judas of the consequences of his actions - better if that man had never been born. 

·         But He does not expose and publicly humiliate the man.  God is strong in His mercy; He is asking the man to repent, even if it happens privately.  Some of us are more afraid of public speaking than going to hell.

Christ's open hand was refused; He went to the Cross, and Judas to a suicide's grave.  But even in this we may see an example in Christ:

·         Christ offers mercy even when there is no hope that it will be accepted.  Mercy does not depend upon the worthiness of the recipient but on the love of the giver.  By example, then, we should offer mercy and forgiveness even to those we think will never accept it.

·         When that mercy is spurned, we should imitate our Lord.  Jesus did not rage at this ingrate; even at the moment of betrayal He calls Judas, "friend."  Christ is our model of patiently enduring suffering and evil.  This is a virtue open to any Christian.

When suffering rises and evil is close at hand, remember your Lord - who went to the Cross without complaint or vengeance.  Even when He is silent, His actions still speak.

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