21 And as they did eat, he said, Verily I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me…25 Then Judas, which betrayed him, answered and said, Master, is it I? He said unto him, Thou hast said. – Matthew 26 (KJV)
Judas: the traitor.
The infamous ‘Et tu Brute’ of the faith.
The very essence of deception that caused yet another prophecy to be fulfilled in the Word of God. Over the past couple of months, I’ve been in serious contemplation on relationships and the story of Judas. I can actually pinpoint the conception of this thought process on a cold fall night in Alabama with a few friends, talking about toxic friends.
For some reason, a friendship I previously held, that I would describe as toxic, entered my mind. I always brushed the thought of me getting rid of this friendship as a huge relief— only because of the insane level of exhaustion that took place whenever I would come in contact with this person was bound to do me over. Being friends with this individual felt like I was a host to a parasite who was only there for my resources and never benefitted me. You know, the typical toxic friendship.
Last I heard, this person wasn’t doing so well in their life.
That, right there, caused me to wonder if I was in the right for just dropping the friendship. Was I just acting on my own tolerance level and desires? Could this person be thriving right now if I had remained? Could I have helped them?
Well, thankfully my WWJD braclet wasn’t far from me.
So, what would Jesus do?
One day, I cracked open the book of Matthew to read about Jesus and came across the story.
There was Jesus and there was Judas.
Throughout their story, it seemed as if Judas was only mentioned for things worth rebuking, e.g., the scene of the alabaster box and the final communion. Everybody knows how Judas’ story went. We know that Judas was to betray Jesus alongside Peter and everything else in between. We know who Judas was.
My question to open this conversation is:
If Jesus knew Judas was going to betray him, why did he ever take him on?
One time I was hanging out with a group of friends. Well with this group of friends came people I was sort of bound to be friends with since they were my friends’ friends. One specific individual didn’t really sit well with me. By the way, I’m thankful for discernment! It’s not as if this individual was horrible and would drag me down to hell if I were ever to befriend them but I somehow knew that with them came a lot of trouble— and drama. So I never became that individual’s friend.
I’m happy I made that decision. It was like I avoided a source of stress and mess because I knew that with befriending comes a lot of burden or mess carrying. That person’s mess would now be my concern and mess — in a way— and I was not down for that.
So now I’m looking at the scripture in actual confusion.
Jesus knew that this guy had his ‘stuff’. He knew the role that this guy would play in his life. Was it just to fulfill a prophecy that Jesus took Judas on? Was it because Jesus knew Judas could benefit and thrive in the atmosphere of perfect discipleship if he chose to?
There has to be a reason. Why would Jesus accept Judas?
Well maybe I can answer that.
Q: So what is the ‘Jesus Judas Concept’?
A: The Jesus Judas Concept is a conversation. It is the reflection of the way Jesus handled relationships with all people and the way humanity handles theirs. More specifically, the Jesus Judas Complex looks at the friendships that are socially deemed ‘bad’.
I conducted a poll to a number of people on my social media and 99% of people agreed that relationships with people should reflect the way Jesus does ‘relationship’. What’s really interesting is that when I asked the same group of people about toxic friends, numbers dropped from the high 90 percentile of saying no to just having a toxic friend, to 56% taking the lead in answering yes to keeping a toxic friend around— if they were the healthiest resource around them.
So people have a heart.
What I saw was everybody either has or had a Judas in their lives. They’re not fun. They’re not the most… desirable relationships but they’re there. I don’t think anyone would want to go in a Judas relationship if that was presented first hand but true characters and personalities begin to show when comfort settles in. I believe that’s the case for most of the people that have found themselves in such a relationship.
Every disciple of Jesus was chosen with intent and purpose. I believe like Peter, John, Thomas, etc., Judas had a great purpose for his life. He had the best teacher, listener, friend, master, leader! He gazed and dwelled in the direct atmosphere of Heaven, emitting righteousness, peace, and joy in everything. One has no choice but to thrive; however, a person’s will can exceed or execute every variable in their lives. So it was with Judas. So it is with my Judas.
We all have dropped a friendship before, I’m presuming. Yet, something about Jesus makes me wonder if I should continue to do so.
You see, when Jesus held the last supper with his disciples, He ate knowing the outcome, the ending, actions and the state of the hearts of each man. He specifically knew the state of the heart of the deceitful man who would beforehand kiss his cheek— an act of love. Yet, he ate with him. Yet, he shared his last moments with him. Yet, he kept him around. Yet, he loved him close.
This was SO not the case for me.
So what? Do we keep toxic people around because Jesus did? Are we supposed to suffer our mental health, our well-being, our SANITY?
I’m a firm believer in protecting your anointing. There are people in this world that can suck every bit of enthusiasm out of you. Their words and actions, if let be, can rob you of righteousness peace and joy— and that’s the kingdom of God! However, I don’t want to be so far gone away from those people for the sake of my anointing that I miss out on the chance to help them or encourage them or whatever it is good people do.
This just has me thinking that there has to be another way.
What the Church is Saying
Because everybody has friend(s) and can probably think of a few people that they don’t necessarily want in their lives, I asked the people I polled to explain why they feel the way they feel.
Melissa M. wrote:
“…I think free will is a beautiful and terrifying concept. I admire that God gave us choice even though it would often grieve his heart. I think every relationship has the same element of free will. Even in looking at Jesus, Judas made a choice. One he was free to make. He exercised his will and of course the end result was his destruction. The same is said for disciplining people. All the knowledge and wisdom you input doesn’t change their ability to choose. …I used to be really torn about removing people from my life but toxic behavior is dangerous because you don’t always recognize the effects it has on you at the time. When I say remove I more mean the deep depth of the friendship. We should be love and light to those that obviously need it. But we can’t make people change behaviors or take hold of their salvation. Over time the toll it can take on you may actually keep you from effectively ministering…”
Taylor M. wrote:
“…If you feel led to positively influence them, you can do that from arms length. But you can’t pour into them if they’re toxic enough to exhaust you, in which case space is 100% necessary for both you and them.
Meaning: you only need to be close enough for the Lord to speak to them, and He’ll let you know when there’s a release for you to step back for yourself.”
Rebecca J. wrote:
“…You can either bring them up or they can pull you down to their level. You can always try but you’re eventually gonna have to let them go because there comes a point when there is nothing else you can do to help that person.”
Jariel B. wrote:
“Sometimes you plant the seed and sometimes you sow.”
Autumn M. wrote:
“If there was some way I could help them, I would like to think I would stay in their life.”
Kevin S. wrote:
“You can be there for people without allowing them to influence your walk with God.”
Lauren J. wrote:
“Jesus would’ve helped that person so I would help that person!”
Luke B. wrote:
“Try to help ’em out.”
Lydia B. wrote:
“Jesus, friend of sinners. Love them but don’t agree with them; it’s a fine line but doable.”
Many other responses either fell on the side of a more part time friendship for one’s own good or a full immersion because Jesus did so. I gotta say, I personally can feel both sides— strongly. It’s just that in my own Judas situation, I’m feeling out this ministering at arms length technique and will probably report to you all how that goes. I am coming from the stance of, ‘I don’t wanna go through all this again’, but my bottom line in this is:
*I won’t give up on this person.
When we look at Jesus, we’re looking at the perfect individual to handle toxic “friends”. I know that many people believe that it’s too demanding to pour into a person if you have nothing pouring into you. One would have to constantly keep going to God for that fill just for one individual & it’s just too tiring. Take care of yourself!
When I flip it onto Jesus, I see the perfect source Judas could receive from. The 100% God side of Jesus could never run out and 100% man side of Jesus was always replenished and restored through His frequent getting away to pray. He was always fruitful and always flowing! —Something that we are to be as well.
Yet when I look at the turnout of both Judas and my Judas, I see… an unhealthy, broken, crying out mess of a person that I know could benefit from the light I had the chance to cultivate while being away from them.
Dare I say that maybe my chance to grow was for their benefit— A way for me to plug that back into this particular individual (taps chin in deep thought). My Judases were never truly going to be the death of me— at least I don’t think. I just couldn’t seem to fathom how to keep that type of environment and attitude around me and still thrive.
One could probably argue that I must not have loved this friend. To which I would say, probably not but even the ones you love must be kept at a distance because you love them. The “loving someone to death” saying is true to its own self. Could it be that this saying could pertain to someone about themselves? That someone could love somebody so much it would result in their own death?
Was that what happened with Judas?
My conclusion is, Judas could not survive without Jesus. It’s just by his own choice he chose to lay down his source of life, not realizing until it was too late that he was really laying down his own life. For with Jesus, His death resulted in the salvation of many, and not his downfall.
Honestly, the answer is simply this: ‘Just by his own choice’.
Melissa M. from earlier hit it on the nail. That’s just the balancing yet conflicting beauty and ugliness of free will.
Don’t give up on them. I think that’s what Jesus was really trying to show us—or at least me— here.
I don’t want you to walk away from this post just taking things that come because choice though. Remember, we still serve a mighty God who can soften just as he hardened Pharaoh’s heart. Pray for your Judas. Let your Judas know that too because at least by that, they don’t get the excuse to believe that no one cares for them.
Huge thanks to Melissa, Taylor, Luke, Kevin, Rebecca, and others who submitted their responses to me! Appreciate ya’ll ❤