Every time we are introduced to Judas in the gospel accounts, he is referred to as “the one who would betray him.” Jesus appears to know that he will turn his back from the moment he selected him. One time Jesus calls him a “devil” (John 6:70). We are also told Judas was a thief and it seems that Jesus may have been aware (John 12:6). Judas is portrayed as a heartless character who lies, steals and betrays to advance himself financially.
With all that said, he still spent three years in the presence of Jesus. Jesus teaches him just like the other 11 disciples. He feeds him along with the crowds of people. He performs miracles in his presence and even sends him out to do the same. Jesus allows Judas to accept a leadership role knowing that God will work through it. Can you imagine having to look the man in the eyes who you knew was going to hurt you emotionally? Can you fathom the humility in asking him to go out and proclaim your name?
I think a great deal about Jesus relationship with Judas. In all his actions and kindness toward Judas, he is teaching me about how to live with other people. You see, I am not a people person. If the ministry has shown me one thing, it is the depth of depravity in which humans can sink. I have heard about and witnessed actions that are despicable. Slowly I fear it is making my cynical and sarcastic toward everyone.
Jesus amazingly does the opposite as my natural inclinations. I would have treated Judas with disdain. He would have been forced to stand outside the circle. I would have given him no responsibilities and might have ignored him a time or two. He would have felt my disapproval in my tone of voice when I spoke with him. Given a chance, I would have warned the other 11 disciples to avoid getting to close to him. My actions toward him would have been genuinely ugly, but wouldn’t I have the right?
Jesus shows me that loving kindness flows out of my character that is forged by God and is not based on the other person. My call is to act like Jesus and not react like the world.
When those moments come, and I want to scream at people and show my contempt I go back to Jesus who shows me another way. The way he treats Judas reminds me that I need to be kind in my actions toward all people – not just the nice ones. God is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked (Luke 6:35), and he instructs me to live the same way. Way easier said than done when you think your friend is like Judas.