Updated: Apr 17
Have you ever been slapped in the face? Pause here for dramatic effect. I am not talking about an award winning Oscar Slap that leaves people wondering if it was real because it seemed real...but looked like acting… I am talking about a real open-handed slap to the face, Slout Klap or Mbama depending where in Africa you grew up.
I once had a friend who was very angry with me, he slapped me so hard that my ear-drums began to resound like a speaker does when there is feedback from a microphone. If you have ever experienced this you will know that it is not pleasant at all. The ringing in your ear can last for days or weeks depending on how meaningful the slap was meant to be.
I can understand why my friend gave me a hard slap - we had upset each other. Eventually, we made up, after the ringing in my ears subsided. However, picture this scenario:
one of your very good friends whom you regularly work, laugh and eat meals with, and just do life together - approaches you and gives you the hardest slap in history. Not because you have done anything bad to them, or have had a falling out, but because someone promised them money if they dared to assault you. Would that not be such a great betrayal? Someone you love and care about being enticed into harming you all because they can earn some money?
Well, something worse has happened in history. A man named Judas betrayed his supposedly good friend and mentor (Jesus) and he did it for 30 pieces of silver - yes it was a lot of money in those days because it could buy a whole large piece of land that one could farm on. But the fact remains who in their right mind and heart betrays their friend for money? While Judas did not literally slap Jesus in the face, he does something quite evil; he kisses Jesus on the cheek as if he is greeting him but in actual fact, it was the kiss of death because it signalled to Jesus' enemies that this is the man they should arrest. And arrest him they did! They led him away to be tortured and killed in the most gruesome way!
With friends like Judas who needs enemies right? I am even more baffled at Jesus's response though,
Jesus knew that Judas would betray him and yet he did not un-friend him or send him away, He still ate with Judas and even told him to do what he was about to do very quickly if that was what he had made up his mind to do. I mean who does that?!! Who finds out that their friend is about to sell them out to be killed but still loves them and treats them like a friend? Well Jesus does. You see Jesus wanted to show that even when we become unfaithful he never stops being who he is, He is the faithful loving friend who sticks closer than a brother.
Jesus had the power to stop Judas, as well as the people who came to arrest him and kill him, but he did not. Jesus could have fully exposed Judas on the night of the last supper and the other disciples stepped in to stop Judas from going to betray Jesus but Jesus always respects our choices, he never forces us to do what our hearts do not want to do. Jesus chose to endure the pain of this betrayal and the gruesome death on the cross that was resultant; because He knew it was through his self-sacrifice that the world would have a way to be free from the law of sin and death! He chose redemption and salvation for everyone else instead of self-preservation. The opposite of what Judas did – Judas chose self-gratification over the joy and well-being of his closet friends.
Jesus did not ever hold a grudge against Judas, He was more worried about the consequences that would befall Judas as a result of his actions. So Jesus warned Judas that he was aware of his evil plan. You would think that this would have been a wakeup call for Judas to re-consider his actions, but nonetheless, Judas had made up his mind to follow the seed of greed that was in his heart. I believe if Judas had come back to Jesus even after this horrible act and asked for forgiveness Jesus would have forgiven him. But so great was Judas' love for money - he lost sight of what he had in Jesus, something more than he could ever gain from money.
My first reaction to Judas’s poor judgement is to look shamefully upon him and frown disapprovingly. However, I am well aware that many times I have been that Judas myself.
How often have I allowed my lust for earthly treasures or pleasures to take my focus away from the relationship I have with Jesus? Sometimes I don’t realise how my yes to the sinful things that bring Jesus pain is similar to how Judas shamefully gave his friend the proverbial “slap in the face”.
Easter is a time to remember how the cross has brought life, love, freedom and forgiveness. As I meditate upon the events that happened on that Holy Thursday as Jesus had a meal with his disciples and was betrayed by a friend, I am encouraged to turn away from my own selfishness that sells my relationship with Jesus in exchange for the temporary things of this world. And when I falter, I am encouraged that Jesus is ready to forgive me and take me back with no condemnation at all.
Thank you Jesus for enduring the betrayal and shame of the cross. I am grateful that you did not let personal comfort or feelings get in the way of providing a way to Salvation for me. I am sorry for the times my behaviour and view of sin has dishonoured the sacrifice that you endured for me. I pray that my life may always reflect the gratitude that is in my heart because of the cross
Written by Advocate Chikwati (C) ViewChurch2022