This past Sunday we shared in part three of our Lent series, “We Were There….”
It gave us a bit of a peek into the life of Judas Iscariot.
And the theme we teased out was “regret.” Judas couldn’t shake his regret and it led to his suicide.
Had a question and a comment come in as follow-up to the message.
Question – “Where was God in Judas’ life? Where is the connection with the spiritual battle God is leading? His opponent is still powerful, don’t you think? Judas was in the darkness of God’s opponent. We are in danger of being trapped there in our own last battles. Yes?”
This is a challenging question – and I’m not sure we can provide a totally complete answer to it.
For part of the answer lies in the sovereign will of God, which Scripture does not fully reveal to us. We are privileged to see SOME of what God thinks and does, but not all of it. As with Revelation 10:4, “Seal up what the seven thunders have said” – there is eternal truth that is not ours to know. Not in this lifetime, anyway.
Psalm 41:9 says, “Even my close friend, whom I trusted, he who shared my bread, has lifted up his heel against me.” This seems to be not only David’s personal experience – which occurred during the revolt of Absolom – but also a direct prophetic word about Judas sharing the bread of Passover with Jesus.
And that this, then, is what Jesus references in John 17:12, “While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by that name you gave me. None has been lost except the one doomed to destruction so that Scripture would be fulfilled.” Jesus spoke this at the time of the Last Supper, knowing already what Judas would do. In fact, he knew that early on – John 6:70 “‘Have I not chosen you, the Twelve? Yet one of you is a devil!’ He meant Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, who, though one of the Twelve, was later to betray him.“
In two places we read of Satan entering Judas:
– Luke 22:3, before Judas went to the Priests to agree to betray Jesus
– John 13:27, when Judas prepared to gather the mob to arrest Jesus
John 13:2, referring to the same incident as Luke 22, says “the devil had already prompted Judas to betray Jesus.”
How, mentally/physically/spiritually/emotionally, that all exactly works we’ll never fully know.
Was is clear is that the Devil somehow came to Judas and prompted/tempted him to betray Jesus.
Judas was not fully and continually demon-possessed. The devil’s presence came and went, says the Bible.
It is also clear from John 12:6 that Judas was never fully on Jesus’ side. He was stealing from the fund meant to support Jesus and his disciples. Cash was more important than commitment. In that spiritually weak state he was vulnerable to the devil’s temptations (which came in the form of 30 pieces of silver…. more cash).
Seems to me that the more we wander from Jesus, the more vulnerable we are to the Devil’s seductions. No one who has the Spirit of Jesus within can say “Jesus be cursed” (1Cor.12:3), which is what the Devil is all about.
And so, as Judas wandered, he fell.
Lesson — Want to remain safe? Stay close, ever oh so as close as you can, to Jesus. You can never be close enough. Others may call that “fanatical.” I’d rather think of it as “safe” – “safe in the arms of Jesus.”
1 Peter 5:6-11 begins by coaching us to “humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand.”
It tells us that devil is prowling around looking for someone to devour.
The only safe place is right close to the Lord.
By the way – this is perhaps a good time to put in a plug for our post-Easter series, Soul Revolution.
The bottom line of which will be to help equip us with spiritual training tools that keep believers in that safe space close by the Lord.
Hope you’ll be around for that.
We also got a comment from one of our older members, reflecting on the whole idea of regret.
This person said…..
“My sense/experience is that as I get older that for whatever reason the “regret” voices seem to get louder.
We older folks have more years to have done things they regret :-(.
And, of course, there are probably all kinds of psychological reasons why some of us have a harder time quieting those regret voices.
But those voices are real and loud.
I wonder if our “head” Protestant Christianity makes it harder for us to genuinely receive and experience the fully satisfying forgiveness that comes through Jesus. We live in our heads. We read our Bibles silently. We pray in our heads. We agree with theological ideas in our heads.
But I wonder if regret goes beyond just the head, into our heart.
And maybe letting go of regret needs something beyond just a head statement.
I wonder if we’ve lost something by giving up confession to a pastor or another trusted believer, verbalizing our “regrets,” and hearing personally the assurance of forgiveness.
Call it “penance” or whatever – have we lost something by not doing it? Not penance to make up for the wrong we’ve done, not earning some favour, but as an expression of repentance. Maybe even in the context of Lord’s Supper where in some communities believers walk forward to receive the presence of Christ and his forgiveness in bread and wine?
I’m not explaining it well in these few words, but I somehow wonder if getting further out of my “head Christianity” will also move me further or more deeply away from the haunts of my “regrets.”
Thank you for this very real and honest sharing.
Actually, I think you explain things VERY well in your few words!
Our Creator calls us to love him (and neighbor) with all our heart, and all our soul, and all our mind, and all our strength (Mark 12:30). So – when we have times that we fail and the regret begins to build, why should we think that all we need is a quick word to our mind and everything will be dealt with.
What you are hinting at makes sense – healing of regrets, and forgiveness, needs to touch the heart, and go deep into the soul, and even involve our “strength” (i.e. body). Physical acts are part of that. Relationships with other believers (heart stuff) can help. And spiritual rituals can sometimes touch the soul in ways nothing else can.
Worth exploring, I think!
Thanks to both of you for asking and sharing.
If others of you have thoughts, feel free to share them here in the comments section.