Three days after his triumphal entry, Jesus can be found back in Jerusalem teaching in the temple. His teachings can be summed up by his words in Luke 21:36:
"But stay awake at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are going to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.”
Jesus desires for us to escape the judgment he warns about in his teaching and be able to stand before God and hear the words, "Well done" (Luke 19:17).
When Jesus had finished his teaching, he turned his attention to the disciples and predicted his arrest and crucifixion. The plot against Jesus had begun as the chief priests gathered together in the private residence of Caiaphas to scheme against Jesus. Their verdict against Jesus had already been decided, the only issue now was how to get rid of him.
"Then Judas Iscariot, who was one of the twelve, went to the chief priests in order to betray him to them. And when they heard it, they were glad and promised to give him money. And he sought an opportunity to betray him."
A plan had been set in motion. Now, Judas simply needed to wait for the right time and place.
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We know the rest of Judas' story, don't we. On Friday, he betrays Jesus with a kiss, revealing Jesus to the soldiers so they can arrest him (Matt 26:47-50). When Judas realizes what he has done and that Jesus has been condemned to death, Judas is seized with remorse. He returns the money, goes out and kills himself (Matthew 27:1-10).
His response seems quite extreme, but I wonder how often you and I may have felt like doing the same thing. Guilt is a powerful force. Not handled properly, it can certainly lead to acts we will regret.
The disciples did not understand that Jesus would rise from the dead. I suspect that Judas had no idea that he could have had an opportunity to ask for forgiveness from Jesus himself if he had only waited two days; just as Peter did. Peter betrayed Jesus as well. By the time the cock crowed, Peter had denied Jesus, not once, not twice, but three times. The difference, however, is Peter endured long enough to be able to reconcile with Jesus face to face. If only Judas would have been able to do the same.
What are you holding on to that you need to repent from? Something small or huge? Maybe you feel that no one could forgive you for what you’ve done. Maybe there’s a part of you that doesn’t even want to be forgiven. You may have become numb and accustomed to living with guilt.
Make today the turning point in your life. Figuratively, take the noose off of your neck. As you repent, accept the fact that Jesus willingly hung on a tree and died so that you don’t have to.
(Illustration: Chief Priests Take Counsel Together by James Tissot, 1836-1902)
Excerpts taken from "The Awakening Worship Experience" written by Dawn Hay