Does it seem incredibly unlikely that the most beloved person in the history of mankind and the most hated person in history lived at the same time, knew each other, and were friends? With the billions that have lived on planet earth, how could such a thing be possible? As unlikely as it seems, it is true and none of us has any trouble guessing who these polar opposites are. The first is Jesus Christ. He was the exemplary human, perfect in every detail, kind, compassionate, filled with love, and as John said, “Full of grace and truth.” Nothing honestly disparaging could ever be written about Him.
On the other hand, there is Judas. He is described in Psalm 55 as an acquaintance who took sweet counsel with Christ. And yet, he is the universally despised, the universally hated, and the one who disgusts us all. So extreme is the hatred of Judas that his name is never given to any of our children. None of us wants to be identified with him in any way. He is the antithesis of the holiness and righteousness of Jesus Christ. As high as the exaltation of Christ can go, so is the measurement of how low the denunciation of Judas can go.
Is it really such a mystery that in all the annals of time the most despicable should be in contact with the most delightful? It should not seem strange because the worst crime committed must be against the one who least deserves it. The worst offense is against the one who least deserves to be offended.
The extreme disappointment in Judas is reflected in David’s words of Psalms 55:11-14: “Wickedness is in the midst thereof: deceit and guile depart not from her streets. For it was not an enemy that reproached me; then I could have borne it: neither was it he that hated me that did magnify himself against me; then I would have hid myself from him: But it was thou, a man mine equal, my guide, and mine acquaintance. We took sweet counsel together, and walked unto the house of God in company.” David was thinking of Ahithophel, but the Holy Spirit had Judas in mind.
Judas walked in communion with Jesus. He was treated as a brother even though Jesus knew from the beginning what He would do. There was nothing in Jesus that could possibly draw out such hatred as Judas had for Him in the betrayal. We agonize over his treacherous actions because Judas did his worst against the best. He is the model none of us wants to emulate, and each of us sits in judgment thinking we would never do what he did.
Would you consider this scripture for just a moment? “Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things. But we are sure that the judgment of God is according to truth against them which commit such things. And thinkest thou this, O man, that judgest them which do such things, and doest the same, that thou shalt escape the judgment of God?” (Romans 2:1-3) In the following verse, Rom. 2:4, the restraint, the patience, and the goodness of God is still there despite the hatred of Him. “Or despiseth thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?” Who is the most despicable character of all? Who is the person that none should name his child after? Are you ready for a confession? The answer is ME. I have done the worst to the one who is the best. I hated Him; I betrayed Him; I drove nails into His hands and feet. I compete with Paul who said, “I am the chief of sinners.”
Is it a mystery the most beloved person of all time should live at the same time as the most hated? Not at all. Christ came in contact with humanity and that says it all.
Pastor V. Mark Smith