What If?

In just over a month Christians worldwide will remember and worship in various ways as we approach Easter - first by reflecting on the Friday called Good. 

Several decisions and actions on behalf of groups and individuals paved the way to the cross.  Judas, one of the Twelve, is one such individual.  Matthew, another of the Twelve, penned Judas’ decision and action.

Early in the morning, all the chief priests and the elders of the people made their plans how to have Jesus executed. So bound him, led him away and handed him over to Pilate the governor. 
When Judas, who had betrayed him, saw that Jesus was condemned, he was seized with remorse and returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders. “I have sinned,” he said, “for I have betrayed innocent blood.”
“What is that to us?” they replied. “That’s your responsibility.”
So Judas threw the money into the temple and left. Then he went away and hanged himself.
Matthew 27:1-5 (NIV)

Rather than call upon the God of all grace, Judas hanged himself. 

- God covered Adam and Eve with animal skins to hide their shame. 
- God cleansed David's heart as the king confessed with his
   broken one. 

- God never forgot Israel even through all their rejection of

- Jesus bore the sin of the world. 
- Jesus reinstated Peter after the once-proud disciple denied
   his connection to the Savior three times.

Clearly, Jesus desired to reach out with grace to Judas.

I see some powerful lessons in the life of Judas.  We do well to study the lives of those men and women in Scripture who failed and succeeded.  While we walk our journey, their path choices shed light on ours. 

As I reflect on Judas' path, I hear a clear warning to watch my strengths.  Often our strengths serve as fertile ground for failure. 
- Judas handled money well - too well.  Does your business
  acumen cause you to trust your instinct too much? 
- Does your strong personality lead to hurting bystanders in
  your wake? 
- Is your artistic or athletic ability giving pride an entry point?
Watch your strengths.

Even as we watch our strengths, we will fail.  You will not betray our Lord with a kiss, but we will sin. 
     You will cut corners on your faithfulness. 
     You will give into weakness rather than stand in God's strength. 
     We all will fail.  

When we do, let us not do as Judas did.  Let us, rather, draw close to the God of grace with a spoken apology, a humble acceptance, and the determination to stand back up in His forgiveness ready to serve Him for one more day -- day-by-day. 

Our journey will be marked with evidence of our stupid decisions.  It will also be marked with reminders of the cross, reminders that proclaim that Jesus never gives up on us, so we should not give up on ourselves.  It really is too bad that Judas gave up so soon.

While his story is forever marred, you and I can gain some wisdom from Judas, the one who shared in the ministry of Jesus and His other disciples.  His infamous life can continue to remind us to watch our strengths, trust Jesus - that He knows best and can always be trusted, and to pray to our Father just as His Son taught.

          "lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil"

He answers that prayer and He forgives those who waited too long and fell into temptation. 

What if Judas would have just waited until Sunday? 

What if Judas put his life in Jesus' hands rather than take his own life by his own hands? 

What if?  What if?

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