Wednesday, April 27, 2011

What's On Your Mind?

As you all may know, my Bible study group recently finished the study, Jesus The One and Only, by Beth Moore. It's one of her earlier studies, but she was on fire. It started off a little slow, but as it progressed it became all I could think about. I couldn't get enough of learning about Jesus' life, His works, His character, His love for me, His obstacles, His responses, His reactions, His emotions, His authenticity, His heart, His teachings, His words, His I said, I can't stop. With the way the study's schedule fell, our final session was the Monday before Easter. How appropriate.

Lots of areas in our study have really triggered my curiosity. For instance, the story of Judas Iscariot. Judas was one of Jesus' 12 disciples. Jesus chose these 12 men to be His followers. They ate with Jesus, stayed with Jesus, studied with Jesus, walked with Jesus, prayed with Jesus, and journeyed with Jesus. Jesus actually had many more disciples, but these 12 were the ones that dwelled with Him. These disciples were like family to Jesus. In fact, Jesus calls them His mother and brothers in Matthew.

Judas was the disciple that handled all the finances. He was a tax collector so he had a love for money. He loved money more than he loved Jesus. Judas did not have a genuine relationship with Christ, therefore his heart wasn't guarded against Satan. The Bible says that Satan entered Judas. Judas sold Jesus out for money. This is sort of ironic considering that Judas heard Jesus' sermon on the mount where He explained that the love of money is the root to all evil. This betrayal happened to fulfill prophesy, so Jesus was aware of what Judas was going to do to Him.

The question that rang in my head was this....Since Jesus knew Judas was going to betray Him, did it still hurt? I wondered this because Jesus experienced all types of emotions and temptations that we as humans face. This was in order for us to learn by His example how to handle these situations. Betrayal is awful. Especially, if it's from someone we consider family. It seems like knowing the betrayal was coming would make it less painful.

Call me a dingbat, but I always associated the betrayal towards Jesus with Peter. This was a type of betrayal, but Jesus knew Peter's heart, and He knew Peter often acted out of impulse. Jesus also knew Peter's denial would be a part of Peter's story, and eventually be used to God's glory. Jesus even tells Peter that "He prayed for Peter's faith to not fail, and when Peter turns back around He is to strengthen his brothers." I can't think of anything more encouraging I could hear from Jesus when I know my sins have disappointed Him. The Bible reveals Peter's heart to Jesus when it says that as soon as Peter realized he denied Christ he ran outside and wept bitterly.

Now, back to Judas. Judas betrayed Jesus with a kiss. With an act of affection. With a symbol of love. Could it be any worse? I can't see anything but pure evil portrayed here. How could someone hate somebody so much as to act like a part of his family, then turn the person over to the enemy who would later kill Him? And, do all this while kissing His cheek? Remember, Jesus did nothing wrong. He was innocent. What causes such a heartless act other than pure evil?

So, was it painful for Jesus to be betrayed even if He knew it was going to happen? I have to believe the answer is yes. Was it less painful since Jesus knew? I really don't think so. I truly believed in Jesus' heart He wanted to fulfill God's will. But I also know that on the Mount of Olives, Jesus prayed 3 times to God asking Him to remove the cup from Him. I believe Jesus hoped Judas wouldn't betray Him. Maybe for the sake of God finding another way. Maybe for the sake of Judas not spending his eternity in hell.

We live in a fallen world and we've all experienced betrayal. Some of us have experienced betrayal by family and those we consider family. We may even expect the betrayal to happen, but we always hope it won't. Then when it does, does it hurt any less? Maybe to those who have hardened their hearts. But we aren't called to harden our hearts. We're called to have hearts after God's heart. This would be to have the things that hurt God, hurt us. I find comfort in knowing that if I face times of betrayal God sees my hurt, and it hurts Him that I am hurt.

Jesus was all-knowing about His betrayal, and He treated Judas no differently than He treated His other disciples. He broke bread with Judas. He even washed Judas' feet. How humbling that was for me to grasp. May we all pray and accept God's strength to show such love to those who hurt us. This is what we're called to do as Christ followers.

Another deep thought I've had is this...I know when Christians pass away, we go to Heaven and God gives us new and transformed bodies. What if this is figurative and not so much literal? We are told that when we go to Heaven we become Christ-like. The lame will walk, and we'll have bodies of strength. What if we don't necessarily have that body we dream of, we just see it that way? Since we'll be Christ-like, will we see things as Christ does? If so, will we see ourselves as Christ sees us? He sees us as beautiful. He doesn't see our flaws the way we do. We are God's workmanship. What if we were able to see ourselves that way, and others too? If this is how we see ourselves in heaven, there really won't be a need for a total body transformation, right? What if the beauty we hold inside, becomes exactly who we are? If so, I know some amazingly beautiful people, and their beauty would blind us on earth. Maybe God saves this for when He makes the blind to see.