Matthew 26, Mark 14: Close, But No Cigar

Matthew 26:14-16:

14 Then one of the twelve, whose name was Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests 15 and said, “What will you give me if I deliver him over to you?” And they paid him thirty pieces of silver. 16 And from that moment he sought an opportunity to betray him.

This is another familiar story in the Gospels. Judas, one of Jesus’ own chosen disciples, betrays Jesus and hands Him over to the religious officials.

There is much that can be said about this story, and the way it plays out, but I am drawn in by these 4 words:

one of the twelve

The implications of these words are huge. First of all, it means that even if Judas was number 12 on the list of twelve, He was still a part of Jesus’ inner circle, the ones who walked beside Him most closely, the ones who were with him through every test and trial, every miracle and sign.

Judas was extremely close to Jesus. Closer than we will ever be in this life. But He was not the right kind of close. He was near to Jesus. He walked with Jesus. He shared meals with Jesus. He spoke to Jesus. But all of these amazing privileges were squandered because they never went farther than that. Judas’ relationship with Jesus was simply one of proximity. He was only near to Jesus. He only walked with Jesus. He just shared meals with Jesus. He only spoke with Jesus.

That’s where the association ended for Judas. He did not love Jesus. He did not follow Jesus unto death. He did not believe Jesus to be the Savior of God’s people. He did not really know Jesus.

This reality has always been a heavy reminder for me. Growing up in the church often produces a perception of closeness with God, even among those who have never really shown much fruit. Being in and around God’s people does not ensure that we are one of God’s people. We are called into communion with Christ. Called to share in His sufferings. Called to find our hope in Him. Our rest in Him. Our life in Him. We are not called to simply show up.

I need this reminder often, because I never want to look at my life and say, “I’ve never really known Jesus” and I certainly don’t want Jesus to look at my life and say, “I’ve never really known you.” I pray that this passage causes me to run to Christ. For there is no other place where salvation is found.

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