Matthew 26:23-25 (NIV): Jesus replied, “The one who has dipped his hand into the bowl with me will betray me. The Son of Man will go just as it is written about him. But woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man! It would be better for him if he had not been born.”
Then Judas, the one who would betray him, said, “Surely not I, Rabbi?”
Jesus answered, “Yes, it is you.”
Jesus knew from the beginning that Judas was going to be the one who would ultimately betray Him. He knew from the moment He met him that the hand He was shaking would one day hold 30 pieces of silver, the price of His life. He understood that the mouth and eyes that were smiling so warmly at that first meeting would one day try to smile with the same warmth, but would only pull off a cold mockery of a smile, stretched tight over a heart turned to ice by betrayal.
Any of that knowledge would have been enough for a normal person to hold Judas at arm’s length, to keep him outside the inner circle, to write him off from the very start. But Jesus drew him all the way into the inner circle, giving him the same access that all of the other eleven had. He even put Judas in charge of the money bag, knowing full well that he would help himself to its contents. (cf. John 12:6)
On the night of the Last Supper, Judas was at the table right along with the rest of the inner circle as Jesus laid out the events that had already been set into motion. Some people believe that Judas should be able to get into heaven, since he only did what had to be done for Jesus’ sacrifice to take place, or because they believe that he must have betrayed Jesus out of some noble motive. But God did not call or command Judas to betray His Son – He just knew that he would betray Him, and thus had Jesus bring him on board. It was Judas’ depraved choice to turn his back on the one who had come to offer him the kingdom of God, the one who showed him mighty miracles, and who never did anything to him but good. With that one decision to act in concert with the enemy, Judas sold himself into eternal suffering that began almost immediately upon his kissing Jesus to identify Him to those who had come to arrest Him. His suffering became so overwhelming that he hanged himself to try to find relief, only to find himself immediately in the place Jesus had warned them all away from – the place where his agony and shame and grief were only intensified, and where it will continue to gnaw at him for all eternity.
At the supper, when the others were indicating their loyalty to Jesus, Judas did too, believing that, with his mask firmly in place, Jesus would never know what was in his heart. “Surely, Teacher, you can’t possibly mean me!” But Jesus knew what was in the very heart of every man. (cf. John 2:25) He had always known that this moment would come. In a flash, He saw the heart of Judas sitting like a cold rock in his chest, and he knew that the deed was done, the die was cast, the game was on, and there would be no turning back for any of them.
“Yes, it is you,” He said, so quickly and quietly that the other disciples, lost in their own thoughts, didn’t quite hear. But the smile disappeared from Judas’ face as if he had been slapped. His eyes got suddenly colder, and he quickly got up and left the upper room to seal Jesus’ fate. And his own.
Father, You know our every thought, all the way to the depths of our hearts. There is no way we can hide anything from You, because You are with each of us always. Even when we breathe a sigh of relief after we have done a wrong, convinced that we have gotten away with it, we haven’t gotten away with anything. You have seen it all, whether it was a physical act, or a wrong thought that we have cherished in our heart. Help us, Lord, to always live in such a way that we never have to be afraid to be found out, never have to be ashamed when we realize that Your eyes were always on us. Help us to never betray You by aligning ourselves with the enemy, but to live as Your beloved children, now and forever. Amen.