Letting Go of the Old Life
Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, “What will you give me if I deliver him over to you?” And they paid him thirty pieces of silver. Matthew 26:14-15
The addict attempting to find recovery generally doesn’t have a problem with wanting a new life. He desires it desperately. He’s sick of the paranoia, anxiety, obsession, pain, and consequences of his addiction. His problem is that, even though it’s caused him so much misery, he just can’t completely let go of the old life. Though he wants to be made new, the old ways are such a part of him, that tearing them out is profoundly difficult and painful. So, he begins down the road of recovery, only to look back, relapsing, when the new road becomes difficult.
This, I think, is similar to Judas’ story. It’s easy to look down on Judas as one of the most despicable characters in history. He did betray Jesus to his death after all. Unfortunately, Judas is also the disciple that many of us can identify with the most.
I doubt Judas set out from the beginning to turn against Christ. When Jesus called the disciples, they left everything to follow him. I think Judas tried too. He wanted to follow, and he sort-of left everything. His addiction was money though, and he never completely left that behind. Relapsing into his old ways, he took the job as group treasurer and embezzled their funds for his own use. It probably started out small, but like most sins, it snowballed.
Thirty pieces of silver apparently wasn’t a tremendous amount of money, but many of us have relapsed for less. In our addictions, we’ve thrown it all away for just one more high. Just one more though is never enough, and once we turn back to the old life, we’re swept away by it.
The other eleven disciples gave up the old life, but Judas couldn’t. He clung to it and it cost him everything. He thought he could have the best of both lives, but he discovered what many of us have discovered. We can’t go back, indulging just a little, once in a while, and still enjoy the new life. It’s the nature of our addictions to destroy us and if we want to live free of their destructive power, we must continually do whatever it takes to abandon them and follow Christ.