Sometimes we find ourselves at an impasse in a relationship with another human being. It can even be a relationship with someone who claims to be a Christian. We expect more of people who call themselves followers of Christ. When you happen to find yourself befuddled by the actions of another, think about how Jesus treated Judas. You can learn a great deal from how Jesus responded to the ultimate betrayer of all time.
Henri Nouwen said, “Without deep roots we easily let others determine who we are. But as we cling to our popularity, we may lose our true sense of self.” Jesus dealt with Judas in the opposite manner of our natural human inclinations when we become aware that we are being wronged by another person. Judas Iscariot is known as the great betrayer. Though the Beatle’s song might play in your head, your heart probably resists empathy when you hear the name Judas. So deceptive and hidden was his betrayal that he did it with a kiss. Jesus demonstrated compassion and acceptance of who Judas was even until the last time He spoke to him. Jesus never allowed the way Judas treated Him to determine who He was or doubt God’s purpose for His life.
Without deep roots it would be easy for Jesus to focus on what was so wrong with Judas. He knew that Judas was not a real Christian. Though all the disciples abandoned Him except John and failed Him in big and small ways, Judas was never really one with Him. Jesus knew this all along, “Yet there are some of you who do not believe. For Jesus had known from the beginning which of them did not believe and who would betray him” (John 6:54). Jesus didn’t seem to let it bother Him that Judas was a betrayer. His deep roots kept Him unmoved by the many wrongs that He undoubtedly recognized in Judas. John’s gospel reveals that Jesus knew that Judas was a thief (John 12:6). Even with this knowledge, Jesus accepted that Judas had a free will that he could use to do the right thing, or the wrong thing. Jesus never tried to impose his will on Judas. He showed him total respect even to the end. The disciples had no clue that Judas was actually leaving the Upper Room to betray Jesus (John 13:28-30). Jesus didn’t treat him any differently than He treated the true disciples who loved and followed Him even to the point of eventually giving their lives to serve Him.
Why would Jesus respond this way to someone who was obviously opposing His very purpose in life? It is because Jesus knew that another human being could not keep Him from His purpose and calling. He didn’t have to stand in the way of Judas’ actions because Judas’ very actions were going to result in helping Jesus fulfill what God sent Him to earth to accomplish. Jesus had deep roots in the greatest trust in God’s power and sovereignty over any who would oppose Him. Jesus’ relationship with Judas demonstrates what the Bible means when it says that all things work together for good (Romans 8:28). God can use anything for good in our lives, even the things, people and situations that seem to oppose us the most. Judas opened his heart to let the devil enter it and of his own free will chose his fate of betraying Jesus, but even this action of defiance brought about the will of God.
When we develop deep roots in our identity as God’s beloved children, we don’t need to get caught up righting all the injustices that come against us. We simply move forward in trust that God will indeed work everything—the good, the bad and the ugly—together for our good as we trust in Him.