The first century AD seems about as foreign to us as a man on Mars, but most often, we find that spanning the centuries, people are just people. Judas was a popular name given to most little boys coming from the Hebrew word “Judah,” meaning praise. And as the Jewish boys ran in the streets, having foot races and throwing rocks, Roman soldiers marched through the village, imposing their Roman ways. The people of Israel wrestled with their Jewish identity in a Roman world. They desperately hoped that their Messiah would come quickly to restore a government no longer under Roman control. Suddenly, a man appeared on the scene claiming to be the fulfillment of all for which the Jews were praying, and while young Judas didn’t know exactly what was going on, He looked at this man, Jesus, and dropped everything to follow him.
When Jesus began His ministry, He chose twelve young men to follow Him as He taught the people and performed miracles. While the Bible isn’t clear on “why” Jesus chose each disciple, it is possible that He looked for men that had the potential to one day further the Kingdom of God. Peter would one day preach a sermon on the day of Pentecost bringing thousands to Christ. Thomas would carry the Gospel to India one day, while Thaddeus and Bartholomew would evangelize Armenia. But what would Judas do? His possibilities were endless, and Jesus allowed him to stay close and watch over the finances because Jesus saw Judas’ potential. But as the old saying goes, “familiarity breeds contempt.” After a woman poured oil on Jesus’ feet, which Judas felt should have been sold for a profit and donated to the poor, the initial enthusiasm of a young Jewish boy who left it all to follow the up-and-comer had now faded to frustration and disdain. Unfortunately, we know the outcome of the story. Judas betrayed Jesus for some money, the source of his initial offense, and eventually took his own life.
This story of human frailty is relatable to many of us who may have known Jesus as a youth. Maybe it was one night at a youth camp that Jesus became real to you, and through tears, you surrendered your life to Him. Perhaps you had a private encounter where Jesus spoke to your heart so plainly, and His power and love radically changed you. But as the years have passed, through disappointing circumstances, church hurt, and the busyness of life, you find that the initial passion and zeal with which you first found Jesus has diminished into indifference and casualness. While waxing and waning cycles are natural to life, they can be treacherous territory for our walk with Jesus. In Revelation 2, Jesus says to the church at Ephesus, “I know your works, your labor, your patience…but you have left your first love. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first work.”
Oh, friend, I hear a clarion call from Heaven today urging us to look again within our hearts. Have we left our first love? Have we allowed our love for the Lord to grow cold and our devotion for Him to fade into the background of our life? Remember that His arms are always open wide, and He is “slow to anger, abounding in steadfast love” (Exodus 34:6). If we confess our wrongdoing, He is faithful to forgive us and wash us clean again (1 John 1:9). Let us not go another day, another moment without making sure that we are in right standing with Jesus. As the lyrics of an old hymn remind us, “Softly and tenderly Jesus is calling, calling for you and for me.”
Join us Sundays at 3 pm online or in person at Regeneration Nashville as we worship the Lord together in spirit and in truth. Until then, may God bless you, keep you, and make His face shine upon you. Be Regenerated!
Your friend in Christ,