We don’t like to admit it, but we can be a lot like Judas. We can be greedy, untrustworthy, and hypocritical. We can turn our backs on Christ and so easily justify it. We can look at Jesus and completely miss all that He is. When we read about Judas, it is easy to pick out these main ideas and try to heed the warnings, but I think we often miss or ignore one way that we can be like Judas - we can be self-condemning.
The Bible tells us that after Judas betrayed Jesus, he hung himself. He was so full of grief, shame, and guilt over what he had done that he thought death was the only thing left for him. Our preacher recently preached a sermon called All Hope is Gone. He talked about being in the depths of despair, how when things go wrong in life we may wonder if they could ever get better. His point was that we must have a courageous hope and that the only thing that allows us to have this kind of hope is Jesus. Judas had no hope left. He had been walking side-by-side, face-to-face with Jesus, yet he still didn’t have hope because he missed who Jesus was. He saw Jesus as powerful; he had watched all the miracles. He saw Jesus as kind and generous; he had sneered at Jesus caring for the poor. He saw Jesus as a teacher; he had listened intently to Jesus’ lessons. But he forgot to see Jesus as his Creator, the One who sustained his heartbeat when he betrayed Christ. He missed Jesus as his Savior, the One who was about to die for the very sin he had just committed. He didn’t see Jesus as his Redeemer, the One who could rid him of all the shame and guilt and grief he felt and make him pure before God. Judas was too blinded by his guilt to see mercy. He was too consumed with grief to find hope. He was too lost in shame to experience grace. He was too focused on the fact that he put Jesus on the cross to be able fall at the foot of the cross and be washed clean by the Savior’s blood.
Without Christ, we have no hope, no way to escape shame and guilt. We can feel like Judas, like we are too far gone to be reached by God’s saving grace. We condemn ourselves and deal out our own punishment without ever going to God first. We live in a cycle of guilt, embarrassment, and regret. But we do so in secrecy, trying to hide from God and from the people He has intentionally put in our lives.
If this is where you are, know that Satan is the one feeding your heart. He led you to temptation and he will do everything in his power to leave you drowning in your sin. He knows exactly who Jesus is and he will use that against you to keep you from running to your gracious Father. It is Satan who is whispering in your ear, “You can’t go back to God now, look how dirty you are! Jesus died for you and this is how you repay Him? You are despicable. Do you really think a good, perfect, and holy God could love you?”
Friends, these lies must be fought with truth, and the truth is there is NO condemnation for those who are in Christ (Romans 8:1). None! We are freed from the bondage of sin. Fear, guilt, and shame no longer bind us. The punishment was put on someone else, and God’s wrath was satisfied by someone else’s blood. Paul understood this kind of freedom and hope. Paul had been persecuting Christians, imprisoning them and killing them in the Lord’s name. But that all change when He met Jesus on the road to Damascus. Jesus didn’t tell Paul he was too far gone or had done too many horrible things, instead, He prepares Paul and uses him in extraordinary ways as a testament to the power of saving grace and to spread the gospel all over the world. In 1 Timothy 1:15 Paul says, “This saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance: ‘Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners’—and I am the worst of them.” 1 Timothy 1:15 Paul calls himself the worst sinner of all yet was fully confident that he had been made right with God. He couldn’t go back and undo the times he persecuted Christians, but he devoted the rest of his life to sharing the good news of the Gospel to others. He wanted to help others take off the bonds of condemnation and live freely in God’s grace.
This freedom is available to us too. We don’t have to go through life with a self-condemning attitude, we can find freedom in who Jesus is and what He has done for us. Don’t be like Judas and miss all that Jesus is. He is the Creator who purposefully created you in His image. He is the Savior who died for your sins and the Redeemer who will make you pure and holy again. Yes, it was you who put Him on that cross, but He willingly bore it for you. He didn’t take on your punishment just so you could try to take it back! He took your punishment so that you could be free and live with a courageous hope, knowing that the promise of eternity is yours.