Examining the long-debated question of why Judas turned Jesus over to the Pharisees on Good Friday.
Over the centuries there has been much debate about why Judas turned Jesus over to the Pharisees; why he betrayed Him. One theory says that Judas was trying to force a confrontation between Jesus and the Pharisees because he thought Jesus’s message was running out of steam and needed a boost to get it back on track! In this, Judas imagined that Jesus’s gospel message needed “tuning up”!
If you read to the end of the betrayal account, you’ll see that once Jesus allowed Himself to be taken into custody, bound and abused by His captors, Judas realized what a terrible and tragic mistake he had made. So pungent was his regret over his actions, the scriptures report, that Judas went out and hanged himself. What can be ascertained from this story of betrayal and regret is that—although we don’t understand what Jesus is doing at the time—it’s not a prudent practice to second guess Jesus’s motives. We find out after Jesus was gone (and Judas also) that the remaining 11 apostles drew lots as a means for deciding who would replace Judas as an apostle. Was this action of drawing lots an attempt by the apostles to “tune-up” things again?! Or perhaps God had a different method for filling Judas’s shoes! Let’s go to Acts and read the account of Paul’s calling to the same position recently vacated by Judas—apostle. And this calling came in the same way the other apostles’ calls came: from Jesus Himself! (Point of clarification: Paul’s original name was Saul.)
3 As he [Paul] was traveling, it happened that he was approaching Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him; 4 and he fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” 5 And he said, “Who are You, Lord?” And He said, “I am Jesus whom you are persecuting… [Acts 9: 3-5]
This obvious yet often overlooked dichotomy bespeaks of a faux pas on the part of the apostles; which most likely falls specifically into Peter’s lap. Instead of waiting for guidance or inspiration from God, the Holy Ghost or Jesus, they took it upon themselves to “tune-up” the situation. How many other examples are there of the apostles tuning up and inadvertently interfering with Jesus’s intended method…or with His overall message?! What are the ramifications of their interfering, their tuning up? The reason Christians tend to overlook this mistake by the apostles is no doubt because they and we all are pulling for the apostles to succeed in the absence of Jesus. This may be well intended in the hearts of Christians. However, it has proven to be detrimental in the early days of the apostles’ efforts to establish Christ’s church.
Luke, the author of the gospel which bears his name as well as the Book of Acts, was outstanding in his ability for “tuning up” the message of Jesus. In a way, Luke picked up the “tuning up” baton from Judas, once he was out of the picture and continued to carry it forward. Though I’m sure Luke was well-intentioned, he did much to divert Jesus’s original kingdom message by tuning it up into the personal salvation message we have today. As Christians, the question on our plate at this point in history is what do we do now? Do we keep building on the “tuned up” gospel that has become so prevalent in the Christian culture of our day; or do we figure out a transformation strategy that will bring us back online with Jesus’s original kingdom message?!