The 11th Hour (TJL 5.1)

This week, you’ll read an assortment of verses commonly used to discuss suicide.  Read these as you continue to think about Judas, and the possibility that God gave him grace.

Thursday                                                                   1 Kings 19

This passage is one of only a few instances in scripture of suicide or suicidal thoughts. In it, Elijah, one of God’s prophets, desires to end his life. Why? Because of solitude and hopelessness over Queen Jezebel’s mission to end his life. Note—in dire situations, even God’s people have thoughts of giving up on life. It may be fleeting, but those thoughts still exist. But notice how God turns Elijah’s mindset around. Have you ever felt despair over situations beyond your control? Do you think Judas felt this kind of despair?

Last-Ditch Effort (TJL 4.6)

Wednesday                                                                 Matthew 26:36-46

The final hour has arrived, and Jesus is alone. Judas is on His way, and the other disciples are fighting sleep. How does Jesus face His darkest hour? He does not run from it, nor does He try to reason His way out of it. No, He prays.  The thing that we often choose last, Jesus does first. What does He pray? He prays, “Father, I hate this. I feel as though I’m dying already. Please let there be another way. Please!” Have you ever prayed that prayer before? We all have. But Jesus adds an additional phrase. “Yet, not my will. Let Yours be done.” Jesus does not fearfully face His darkest hour. He confidently embraces it as part of God’s work of redemption for all His people. And, perhaps, as a final way of showing His love and plan to Judas, His betrayer. 

Last-Ditch Effort (TJL 4.5)

Tuesday                                                                         John 17:1-26

This is Jesus’ final prayer before leaving the Upper Room where He and His disciples celebrated the Passover.  There are many things Jesus asks of His Father in these verses. However, look at verse 12. “When I was with them, I watched over them in your name… and I kept them safe. None of them has been lost except for the one who was doomed for destruction, so that scripture might be fulfilled.” There are a few ways of looking at this verse. Some say Judas couldn’t resist betraying Jesus because it was predestined for him. Others say that John’s gospel is particularly harsh on Judas, written by the Beloved Disciple’s community, who had a special loathing for Judas (which is true). However you read the passage, hear it from a Jesus who has tear-filled eyes, a Jesus who is hurt over the fact that He could not change Judas’ mind. Judas was doomed to destruction by His own choice. And Jesus is torn up over it. Likewise, Jesus mourns over our decisions when we turn away from Him. How will you avoid being “doomed to destruction” today?

Last-Ditch Effort (TJL 4.4)

Monday                                                                         John 16:1-33

Jesus speaks a sad reality to the disciples—He will be leaving them soon. In the midst of bad news, Jesus continues to encourage them. Why has Jesus spoken these things? “So that you won’t fall away.” Jesus lost one of the disciples to evil… He’s doing everything He can to prepare the remaining eleven for the temptations ahead. He says the same to us as well. What do you sense He is telling you, especially through these words in today’s passage?

 

Last-Ditch Effort (TJL 4.3)

Saturday                                                                       John 15:18-27

“If the world hates you, know that it hated me first.” Jesus knows the pain of betrayal. He gave Judas everything He had, and Judas still chose to betray Jesus. And it hurt. Jesus, perhaps as a way of both grieving and preparing the disciples for their mission ahead, speaks about those who hate Him, and how He deals with it. The way to deal with people who persecute you is to remember the One they are really persecuting: your Father in Heaven. It isn’t something to take personally. When we take things personally, it is more difficult to love our enemies. 

Last-Ditch Effort (TJL 4.2)

Friday                                                                         John 13 31-35

Judas left to betray Jesus. Even as he was on his way to the chief priests and soldiers, Jesus began preparing the disciples for what was to come. What did He say? “Love each other. Just as I have loved you, so you also must love each other.” Jesus knew what Judas left to do, and His immediate response was to remind the remaining disciples that they would be defined by love, not revenge. Jesus refused to badmouth Judas, or provoke the other disciples to anger. Instead, He promoted love.