I Cannot Stop
So, after receiving the morsel of bread, he immediately went out. John 13:30
Near the end of my active drug addiction, I knew time was running out. I could just feel life collapsing as the consequences of my behavior approached. Any sane person would have stopped, but I didn’t. I knew I was on a collision course with disaster, and yet, I couldn’t – or wouldn’t – change directions. This was the sickness of my enslaved mind.
Judas was on a similar path in today’s passage. In the story, Jesus foretold that one of his disciples would betray him. Peter asked who it was, and Jesus said that it would be the one to whom he gave a morsel of bread. After giving it to Judas, Jesus said to him, What you are going to do, do quickly (John 13:27). Up until that moment, Judas perhaps thought he could get away with it. At this point though, he knew his evil plans had been discovered.
At that realization, any sane person would have repented, throwing themselves before Christ’s mercy. Not Judas though. He doubled down, and the next time we see him, he betrayed Jesus for 30 pieces of silver. Judas was enslaved and couldn’t stop.
The passage says, Satan entered into him (John 13:27), making it sound as though Judas didn’t have a choice. At that point, he probably didn’t. We might say, in our vernacular, that Judas succumbed to his demons. In stealing from the disciple’s treasury, he’d already surrendered to his greed.
It was only after Jesus was crucified, that Judas understood the horrific consequences of his actions. In shame, he returned the blood money to the high priests and hanged himself. In the end, Judas’ greed controlled, consumed, and destroyed him. I empathize with Judas. He probably didn’t mean to cause such destruction. He just couldn’t see past his own pathologic desires.
What’s the lesson for us? First, we must be dreadfully careful not to even begin to indulge in desires we know to be wrong. Early on in sin, we have a choice, but later, once we’ve surrendered repeatedly, the choice is already made, and we cannot stop until it’s too late. Second, if we find ourselves enslaved, we must do what Judas could not. We must turn desperately to Christ, throwing ourselves on his mercy. In Jesus, we will always find grace, forgiveness, and transformation, no matter what we’ve done or how far we’ve run.