Weekend, February 12, 2022

The Great Pretender

“This he said, not that he cared for the poor, but because he was a thief, and had the money box; and he used to take what was put in it” (John 12:6 NKJV).

In movies about Jesus or in religious art depicting the disciples, we can easily figure out who Judas Iscariot is. He’s the disciple who’s always lurking in the shadows, looking treacherous.

But that is not the way Judas actually appeared. He gave the impression as the most virtuous of the lot, but he was the literal definition of a hypocrite. A hypocrite, literally defined, is an actor, a performer.

We find a perfect example of this in John’s gospel, when the disciples gathered for a meal in Bethany. Mary began to wipe Jesus’s feet with some very expensive perfume, and the fragrance filled the air. Mary had insight into the fact that Jesus would suffer and die on the cross, and she wanted to do something extravagant, something to demonstrate how much she loved Him.

The perfume probably was a family heirloom worth thousands of dollars by today’s standards. And Judas, seeing this, said, “Why was this fragrant oil not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?” (John 12:5 NKJV).

Then John gives us this detail: “This he said, not that he cared for the poor, but because he was a thief, and had the money box; and he used to take what was put in it” (12:6 NKJV).

So at the moment Judas appeared to be the most virtuous, he actually was the most wicked. And his greed for money destroyed his life. If Judas had repented of his sin, Jesus would have forgiven him. But he was a wicked man.

The Bible says that “if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9 NKJV). When we sin against God as Christians, we don’t break off the relationship; we break off fellowship. But if we will confess our sins, our communication with Him can be restored.

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I love to tell stories—but I especially love to tell stories that point to Jesus. That’s one of the reasons I wrote a book about acting legend Steve McQueen. Steve was the King of Cool, but at the end of his life, he encountered the King of Kings. As a result, an American icon became a child of God.

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