Judas, the Friend of Jesus

Judas is so easy to hate.
The  betrayer, the snitch, the bad seed,
his name synonymous with treason.
No one cries when we hear he’s hung himself.
We all think, “Finally he gets what he deserves.”
Cast into the darkness of disgrace for all time,
who mourns for Judas?

But Judas was there from the beginning,
called like every disciple,
leaving behind everything to follow Jesus.
He was there in the boat, watching Jesus walk on water.
His hands touching the five loaves and two fish
multiplied by Jesus to feed the crowds.
From Samaria to Caesaria, from Galilee to Jerusalem,
Judas walking with Jesus, talking with Jesus,
listening and learning.

Jesus trusted Judas.
Matthew the tax collector was the money man,
but it was not to him that Jesus entrusted the purse.
Did Judas siphon cash away?
Jesus was not worried about this, if he did,
although John in his gospel is scathing
in his condemnation.
When the woman anoints Jesus,
John points the finger at Judas,
saying it was Judas who complained,
Judas who stole money.
In his gospel,
John is eager to further ruin Judas’ reputation,
if that is even possible.
After Judas’ betrayal of Jesus,
Judas disappears from John’s gospel.
John will not spare one more word for him.
He could not care less.

It is in Matthew the tax-collector’s gospel
that the story is filled in.
Matthew says all the disciples complained
about the money wasted in the anointing.
In Matthew’s gospel we learn that in the garden,
Jesus greets Judas with the word “Friend”.
Many years later, as Matthew sits to write,
does he remember that night in the garden?
Does he see the look of love on Jesus’ face?
Did it remind him of the relief he felt
the first time he realized that Jesus loved him,
a tax-collector, friendless in Israel?
Matthew’s gospel tells us of Judas repenting,
returning the money, naming himself as sinner.

Can we know why Judas did what he did?
What is the motivation for any sinner?
We can only know that Jesus called him friend.
Greater love has no one than this,
than that they lay down their life for their friends.
It’s easy to hate Judas.
But joined together in repentance
we are friends forever with Judas
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

New Book Coming Soon!

Carol Penner has written a devotional book for Lent that explores the challenges of repentance and forgiveness. Forty reflections and prayers to deepen your walk with God as you prepare for Easter.  

You can order it here!

About Carol Penner

I am a Mennonite pastor currently teaching theology at Conrad Grebel University College in Waterloo, Ontario. I’ve served congregations in Ontario and most recently, Alberta.

I love to write and to lead worship! If you are finding my writing helpful, I would love to hear from you! Feel free to use or adapt the material here, it is all written by me. If printing material, please credit “Copyright Carol Penner www.leadinginworship.com” (and say whether you modified it). If publishing, please contact me for permission. Contact me at carol@leadinginworship.com

Recent Posts

Posts By Month
  • Popular Tags

    Your browser doesn't support the HTML5 CANVAS tag.

  • Worship resources in a Mennonite voice for ears of all kinds

    Are you looking for resources for a Christian service? Feel free to use or adapt my prayers, poems and litanies. They are written in a Mennonite voice, for ears of all kinds. 

    Feel free to use these orally in a worship service (in-person or broadcasted)  , but if they are printed in a bulletin please use the following credit

    “Copyright Carol Penner  www.leadinginworship.com.”

    Contact me for use in newsletters or printed resources, I am happy to grant permission but I would like to know how my writing is being used.  You can reach me at carol@leadinginworship.com.