What do you think about this guy? You know the story; becomes an apostle, gets a little greedy, sells Jesus up the river for 30 pieces of silver leading to the ultimate glory of God, regrets his actions and gets his comeuppance, hanging from a tree. (Or falling on a plow, depending which story you read.)
We look at Judas with contempt and ask how he, one of Jesus' closest and most trusted 12, could betray him so vilely. But aren't we all a bit like Judas? This is why on Palm Sunday during the gospel reading, where there is crowd participation, I have always hated the part where the congregations part is to say out loud, "Crucify him! Crucify him!" Some years I have refused to say it. I think, if I had been in that crowd, worked into a frenzy by the greedy, jealous, evil Pharisees, I would have said no. But would I have? Do I do it today?
If Jesus is in each of us, and we look for Jesus in each person that crosses our path, are we not shouting "Crucify him!" when we say something or think something against them? When we exclude others or are intentionally mean? When we lose patience, trust and faith? When we turn away from what is right? Are we collecting our 30 pieces at that moment?
Judas went down in history as the most despicable human, but here we are, judging. I feel a little sorry for him. In this story he is the warning, but also the whole point. Why did Jesus even associate with him if he knew all along what he would do? Was it that he was hoping he would change his mind?
Nope! He knew, and understood, and wouldn't have it any other way. Judas is the poster boy for "things happen for a reason" and this was a big reason. The final triumph over death, so that it held no power for us, a bunch of Judases. He was the ultimate sinner, and Jesus even forgave him! In the big picture, love is the reason... for everything.