No longer do I call you servants,for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. John 15:15
I’ve wondered at times what kind of man this Judas was. What he looked like, how he acted, who his friends were.
I guess I’ve stereotyped him. I’ve always pictured him as a wiry, beady-eyed, sly, wormy fellow, pointed beard and all. I’ve pictured him as estranged from the other apostles.
Friendless. Distant. Undoubtedly he was a traitor and a quisling. Probably the result of a broken home. A juvenile delinquent in his youth.
Yet I wonder if that is so true. We have no evidence (save Judas’s silence) that would suggest that he was isolated. At the Last Supper, when Jesus said that his betrayer sat at the table, we don’t find the apostles immediately turning to Judas as the logical traitor.
No, I think we’ve got Judas pegged wrong. Perhaps he was just the opposite. Instead of sly and wiry, maybe he was robust and jovial. Rather than quiet and introverted, he could have been outgoing and well-meaning. I don’t know.
But for all the things we don’t know about Judas, there is one thing we know for sure: He had no relationship with the Master. He had seen Jesus, but he did not know him. He had heard Jesus, but he did not understand him. He had a religion but no relationship.
As Satan worked his way around the table in the upper room, he needed a special kind of man to betray our Lord. He needed a man who had seen Jesus but who did not know him. He needed a man who knew the actions of Jesus but had missed out on the mission of Jesus. Judas was this man. He knew the empire but had never known the Man.
Judas bore the cloak of religion, but he never knew the heart of Christ.
We learn this timeless lesson from the betrayer. Satan’s best tools of destruction are not from outside the church; they are within the church. A church will never die from the immorality in Hollywood or the corruption in Washington. But it will die from corrosion within—from those who bear the name of Jesus but have never met him and from those who have religion but no relationship.
Judas bore the cloak of religion, but he never knew the heart of Christ. Let’s make it our goal to know … deeply.