A few days ago I was reading in Matthew 26, when Judas comes into the garden to betray Jesus. I noticed a word that had never struck me as powerfully before. It was the word “friend.” When Judas walks up to Jesus, about to give him away, Jesus says, ” Friend, do what you came to do.”
Would I be able to call someone “friend” in the midst of betrayal like that? Jesus knew all things. He knew that the man would eventually betray him, even when he invited him to walk with him. He knew that Judas would be so full of guilt and shame that he would eventually commit suicide, yet he still chose to call him to walk with him in the first place. Had he never called Judas as a disciple, Judas’s life may have been spared. He might have saved him the heartache. I don’t claim to understand suicide, and I know that there is a lot of debate about what happens to a person when he willfully takes his own life… But here is what I do know. It was better for Judas to walk with Jesus at all than to walk with him never. Suffering while Jesus calls you “friend” is better than suffering when you don’t know Jesus at all.That’s been a theme at Calvary lately and in our small group- It’s better to suffer with God than without him.
The course of Judas’s life is sad, but what’s encouraging is that Jesus still calls Judas “friend.” No matter what we do, he loves us. Jesus didn’t count Judas as his enemy. He knew he wasn’t fighting man; his battle was much bigger. My insight here isn’t deep. It isn’t sophisticated. What I see here is simply simple: If we know him, Jesus calls us friends. Period. Our world is falling apart, but Jesus calls me friend.