Summary: Every single one of these men - Judas, Peter, The Sanhedrin, believe that they are faithful, and they appear faithful to those around them. But appearing to be spiritual, appearing to be faithful is neither spiritual nor faithful, it only appears to be.
Jesus, an innocent man, is arrested in an olive grove and now stands ready to be condemned to death – there is no doubt about the outcome. How did it all come to this? How did it come to this, that the most theologically adept men of the day sat ready to condemn an innocent man, they sat ready to condemn the one who was there to liberate them? How did it come to this, that good friends and loyal followers - true believers -would betray and deny the one they were so sure was the coming Messiah?
Judas, Peter, and the Sanhedrin, good people, people who love God, these people believe they are acting in good faith, they believe they are truly faithful; But, each in their own way are not faithful, are they? In fact, they are not at all faithful, they are only, appearing to be faithful, they are in fact pretending to be spiritual.
Judas, he wants what is best for the people of Israel, and he will do whatever it takes, even the most extreme act, to make the right thing happen. Peter, he believes his faith is so strong that he will hold up under any pressure, even the threat of death. The Sanhedrin, they are the ones charged with safeguarding the faith; They will use their education and analytical skills to determine if the current events are genuine or not - They are faithful to the letter of the law.
Every single one of these men believe that they are faithful. Every single one of these men see their actions as spiritual. Every one of these men could justify their actions as godly. Every single one of these men is blind to the fact that they are making the single worst mistake of their lives.
Look, we all want to be faithful, isn’t that at the core of being a Christian? Isn’t being faithful to Christ what it is all about? Can we, as a people of God, live in a way that we see serves the faith, but in reality, rejects God? Can we, who are followers of our Lord Jesus Christ, for all intents and purposes, appear to be working for the kingdom of God, but in reality, be working against the kingdom of God?
In a word – Absolutely. Appearing to be spiritual, appearing to be faithful is neither spiritual nor faithful, it only appears to be.
In our Scripture today we have three different types of people, all who, in their own way, see themselves as serving God; Yet, though they all see themselves as serving God, they are only faking it. And let’s be clear, whatever their intentions are, however noble their intentions are on this night, intentions send Jesus to His death.
Judas. Our view of Judas is colored by knowing the end of the story. We know Judas is the one who commits the unthinkable act, we know Judas in not an honorable man, we know that we are not anything like Judas. So we imagine Judas to be this monster, a man who lurks behind the scenes, just waiting to commit evil acts. But in reality, Judas is as human as you and I are. He was taken by Jesus teachings….you know he gave up three years of his life to follow Jesus. He gave up three years of pursuing his own interests, for the sake of Jesus. Judas managed the accounts – a thankless job in many circles. And remember it was to Peter that Jesus says, “Get behind me Satan”, and not to Judas. I’m sure Judas knew his Hebrew bible and could quote chapter and verse. To top it all off, not a single disciple, not a single follower of Jesus suspected that Judas was planning his betrayal.
Judas looked and acted the part – if he did not, don’t you think the other disciples would have suspected something? I think Judas is an extreme example of playing the part, he is number one on the list of people who appeared to be faithful, but again, appearances mean nothing.
We can only speculate on what was going through Judas’ mind. We can only speculate on why Judas felt that he had to betray Jesus – but one thing you can be sure of, Judas did not wake up one morning and say to himself, “Today’s the day that I will start being evil, today’s the day that I will no longer serve God and will now serve Satan”. No, Judas followed Jesus from day one because he wanted to serve God. His intentions from day one were to live for God, why else who someone set aside three years of their life to follow Jesus?
Clearly it wasn’t money. Later we see that Judas throws the money back at the authorities in regret. It was something else that motivated Judas to betray Jesus with a kiss in verse 45. Notice this: His action toward Jesus is done with sweetness. He is not a nasty monster foaming at the mouth. He has no anger, no bitterness, no hostility. He is happy, with a clear conscience – and be aware of this: Judas appears to be doing the right thing to a large number of people. There are a number of people backing him up – “Go Judas”.