Monday, December 14, 2009

The Guide

"Friends, the scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit through David foretold concerning Judas, who became a guide for those who arrested Jesus - for he was numbered among us and was alloted his share in this ministry."
(Acts 1:16-17)

Let's talk Judas.  What words come to mind when you hear his name?  TRAITOR... BETRAYER... THIEF (John tells us he used to steal their common funds)?  ALL-AROUND BAD DUDE?  Yet here in the first chapter of Acts - the book about the early church & how it got started - we get a slightly different perspective.  Judas has committed suicide & the disciples need to find a replacement amongst the 'inner circle.'  But what descriptive word does Peter use when talking about Judas?  "GUIDE."  Judas 'became a guide for those who arrested Jesus.'

It's sort of always bothered me that Judas got the label of "Betrayer."  It wasn't like he gave out any inside information about Jesus that people didn't already know.  Nor did he reveal any secret location of Jesus' whereabouts, when he was trying to remain hidden.  Jesus had been out in public all week - preaching & teaching (granted, during the day there were great crowds around him, so at night it would have been 'less congested,' and easier to arrest him without the people protesting).  But Jesus wasn't trying to stay hidden.  So I don't buy the 'betrayer' label.

But "guide" is very interesting.  Instead of helping guide people towards the Kingdom of God (which was Jesus' stated mission, and what he trained his disciples to do), Judas guided the Jewish religious authorities to Jesus - but not for insight, healing or illumination.  He guided them ot Jesus to STOP his ministry.  Maybe he became disillusioned with who he wanted Jesus to be in light of who Jesus was actually becoming?  Whatever the reason, Judas guided people to Jesus for the wrong reason.

One of my seminary professors liked to say that if we wanted to get the full impact of the Bible's power, then we needed to put ourselves in the role of the least likable characters in a story.  So how might we be following in Judas' footsteps?  How do we "guide" people to stopping Jesus' ministry?  How does what we say or do discredit the gospel that Jesus worked so hard to share?  It could be things that bring obvious shame to God (and Christianity in general), or it could be simply attitudes & actions that turn people off from seeing Jesus for who he really is.

Far be it from me to cast the first stone.  I just pray that I'm not one who guides people away from Christ.

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