We all make mistakes. I love watching old westerns and picking up on mistakes they made in filming. Recently I watched Marshal Dillion and Chester having a conversation on Gunsmoke. Things were fine until the large passenger jet flew overhead in the background! Mistakes like that one are harmless. Actually, they are humorous. There are, however, some mistakes we must stop. They are costly, and can result in devastating, eternal consequences.
Judas made a number of mistakes. Sadly, many among us are making the same errors in judgment and it is time to stop walking in his footsteps. Where did he go wrong? How did things spiral out of hand so quickly in his life?
Judas made the mistake of thinking proximity equaled participation. He was always there, around the stuff. He walked around with the Son of God, took part in many exciting services where the power of God was manifest. Yet somehow, it never really got into the life of Judas that he needed to fully surrender to the Master. Like so many who sing on worship teams, teach in group settings, preach in pulpits…even some who witness mighty miracles…Judas hung around the “stuff” of God but never surrendered to the Spirit of God.
Judas also made the mistake of thinking patience on God’s part meant he received a pass on his sin. Judas was a thief (John 12:6). Of course, we don’t learn that until long after all the fateful events had taken place. The only one who knew, who really knew, Judas was a thief was Jesus.
It is not hard to imagine Judas coming back around the Master after he dipped his hand into the till the first time. Who knows what he took or for what purpose it was used. All Judas knew was that he had stolen money and Jesus had displayed enough power for him to realize Jesus probably knew. What was going to happen? Consider how he felt when he sheepishly approached Jesus, furtively skirted around the group, and finally exited without any reproach from the Master. He had to walk away thinking, “I got away with it!”
How many people have come to church on Sunday, knowing they have sinned, and because God did not strike them dead or “make the root fall in on them,” left thinking they had pulled the wool ever the eyes of God? People often mistake God’s patience for a pass on their sin and think He doesn’t know, or worse yet, care.
The most famous mistake made by Judas was thinking the price he obtained for selling out Jesus was plentiful. Most know he took thirty pieces of silver. That was the price placed on a slave if killed. Interestingly enough, comparing it to today’s monetary exchange, Judas sold Jesus for about fifteen dollars. What a price to go down in infamy as the ultimate traitor!
Still, the worst mistake made by Judas was not his betrayal. Be careful if you disagree with that idea. Who among us has not, at one time or another, been guilty of our own Judas-like betrayal of our Lord? No, his worst mistake was not his failure. His worst mistake was passing up the chance to pray to the Master and seek forgiveness.
I want to climb up on that ledge he used, or tree, whatever the location of his suicide, and scream at him, “Wait! You don’t know what the rest of them did!” I want to tell him how Simon Peter made such a mess of things, how Mark ran naked into the darkness, how every last one of the rest of his companions scattered like a frightened covey of quail. He was not the only one who made a mistake that night.
Do I believe Jesus would have forgiven Judas? Of course I do! He forgave the men who ripped the flesh from His body. He forgave the men who stretched Him out and nailed Him to the cross. He forgave the brutal men who mocked and gambled at His feet. I have no doubt He would have forgiven Judas; if only Judas had not made the worst mistake of all.
To all who read these words, your worst mistake lies not in your past. No, the worst mistake you will ever make is refusing to run and fall at His feet for mercy and grace. I assure you, the Jesus of scripture will not only receive you, He will pardon, cleanse, and restore you. On top of that, if you will allow Him to, He will place in your life fellow strugglers who know what it means to make many mistakes, but who refuse to engage in the worst one of all. They, along with you, should you decide to join them, will keep running to Him for grace and help until the day you meet Him face to face!