During the Battle of Waterloo, a man stood on top of a great cathedral in London. He was chosen to study the signal flags from the battle. The whole city of London was anxious to know how things were going. All were wondering if the Duke of Wellington could defeat Napoleon. The man stood on the cathedral watching for signals from the battlefield relaying news. When he received a message he waved his flags to give the people of London a report on the battle. While waving his flags, the people of London barely could see through the fog. Impatient, the only message they were able to see was, “Wellington defeated.” They were stunned. Their hearts sank. But then after a time there was a break in the fog and they saw the rest of the message. The flagman waved with enthusiasm what had not been seen before, “Napoleon…Wellington defeated Napoleon.” The entire nation of England celebrated the great news.
It seems more often than naught, patience is in short supply in our lives. We know what we want and we want it now. I’ve never met a married couple when purchasing a fixer upper that didn’t think the project ever went too fast.
Two Thousand years ago, the Passover had been celebrated on a Thursday. The following day, now known as Good Friday would be like no other. A humble and beloved carpenter from Nazareth would suffer the greatest act of betrayal ever witnessed by humanity. Why? Because a friend wanted power and prestige over friendship. This friend committed a deed so despicable, that forever in time, this very act would be the example by which all future betrayals would be judged.
If he wanted to be remembered as the most famous disciple, he certainly achieved it. People everywhere to this day remember his name, Judas. So despised would be this name that we’re told even Jesus’ brother Judas later changed his name to Jude.
Many of us have known betrayal, but to be betrayed by the closest of friends with a kiss? Today we still use the euphemism borne by this event when we state giving someone the “Kiss of death”. But this Good Friday, I have a burning question. Why did Judas exit the stage so quickly after his betrayal; he missed so much? Before all the events of the day would conclude, Judas would be absent for Pilate’s questions, Caiaphas interrogations, Jesus’ flogging or His being nailed to the cross. Judas missed it all.
While Jesus hung pitifully on that cross, and he cried out, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.” Judas missed by hours the best news ever; the forgiveness of his Master. We all remember John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son.” But the following verse adds clarity to the former, “For I didn’t come into the world to condemn it, rather I came to reconcile (forgive, restore) ALL men to me.”
There are three things Jesus requires of us to gain His forgiveness. We have to admit we messed up, we must have remorse, and we must accept by faith God’s full forgiveness.
Judas came oh so close. He admitted in front of the Jewish leaders he had sinned. He declared he had betrayed an innocent man. But like so many people today, he believed he had simply done too much, gone too far, to ever be forgiven. The one missing puzzle piece for full restoration he didn’t take; he never asked God for forgiveness. Even with this acknowledgement of sin, and his remorsefulness, he still couldn’t bring himself to inquire of the last, asking for forgiveness.
Just two days later while meeting in the upper room, the disciples had their Peace restored (Jesus resurrection). Therein lies the second thing Judas missed, peace. Judas isn’t going to hell for betraying Christ, he is going there because he refused to set his relationship right with Jesus. On that cross when Jesus cried out, “Father forgive them”, that statement was meant for Judas too.
Except Judas missed the announcement by mere hours.
The third and final thing Judas never achieved was power. Wasn’t that the reason for this betrayal? Yet only ten days later at Pentecost the Holy Spirit, was poured out onto the world like a fire. And Judas finally missed the one thing that he had craved his entire life, power. He missed it all!
We may find it easy to cast dispersions at Judas, but aren’t we like him at times? The very three things Judas missed that day can seem elusive to us as well. Today Good Friday offers us the opportunity to seek His Forgiveness, seek His Peace and seek His Power.
Unlike Judas, don’t let your hours slip away before your relationship is restored with the Master.