Have you ever wondered how Judas the disciple of Jesus become Judas the betrayer of Jesus? It’s quite a change to go from a loyal follower of Jesus to become the person who started the chain of events that led to his arrest, torture and execution.
We don’t really know the specific factors that caused Judas to change but people have speculated that some possibilities might be:
- Disappointment: Judas was frustrated that Jesus hadn’t overthrown the Romans. He had a clear picture of what the Messiah should do and Jesus had fallen well short of being that Messiah. It’s possible that Judas betrayed Jesus to force his hand, that he hoped to make Jesus start an uprising against the Romans or it may just have been that he just wanted to turn him over to be free of him.
- Frustration: Judas was in charge of the money and being the treasurer to Jesus and his disciples must have been fairly frustrating. There was no financial planning or budget setting, and perhaps Judas just got frustrated with how Jesus was leading.
- Guilt: We know that Judas stole from the money that the disciples did have. Something drove him to do this and perhaps he just couldn’t live with the guilt of what he had done.
These things would be explanations, but none of them would be a valid excuse.
One of the other disciples, Simon was a Zealot and so he would have wanted to overthrow the Romans too but he didn’t betray Jesus.
One of the other disciples, Matthew was formerly a tax collector and so he knew all about accounting for and handling money but he didn’t betray Jesus.
One of the other disciples, Peter let Jesus down many times and even though he may have felt guilty he didn’t betray Jesus.
So, what was different with Judas?
We all have negative thoughts, but it’s what we do with them that counts. When someone hurts us, our natural reaction will be to want to hate them or to retaliate. The trouble is that if we allow hatred to take root in our lives then it will change who we are. When we hate people it is because we want to cause them harm but ironically, there is only one person that hatred hurts. When we hate, it churns us up emotionally and damages our lives. Lewis Smedes said that “to forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.”
Whatever his issues were, it is clear that Judas let his negative thoughts take root. He allowed his disappointment, frustration and guilt consume and overwhelm him.When we let negative thoughts dominate our thinking then the enter into a downward spiral that it is extremely hard to get our of.
What are our dominant thoughts? When we are still, when we go to sleep, what are the thoughts that we have? Are they positive, good or godly or are they negative, angry or bitter?
Jesus said that ‘the mouth speaks what the heart is full of’. You see, our dominant thoughts or words will indicate what is going on inside of us.
When we recognize that our thoughts are damaging us and pulling us down, we have the opportunity to bring them to Jesus and to confess and to hand them over to him. As we pour out the negative, we make more room for the presence of God to fill and to overflow out of our lives.
Negative thinking is a slippery slope but the great news is that however fast we are heading downwards that God is willing to pull us back up if we turn to and reach out towards him.
Forgiveness is one of the most powerful keys God gives us to break the chains of bondage.
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