I’ve always loved Easter.
Aside from the pink bunnies, the Cadbury eggs, the fake grass in Easter baskets, and the summer dresses everyone dons at church, I’m way more enamored with the story.
A man who lived over 2000 years ago knew me by name. And He decided I was worth dying for.
How is that NOT the most beautiful story you’ve ever heard?
Each Easter that goes by, ever since I was little, I can’t help but find myself heartsick over the cross and filled with joy over the empty tomb. Despite religion, or politics, or the differences in churches and sermons—that truth stands, simple and pure and untouched.
He loved us enough.
But this Easter time, especially today on Good Friday, I have been thinking about the other facet of His love that is harder to swallow—and sometimes ignored. It isn’t the pretty part of the story and it’s often quickly talked about and then we all move on.
I’m talking about those thirty pieces of silver. The ones in your hand.
I remember very distinctly sitting in a church sermon once at BYU and hearing a talk that delved a little bit into Judas Iscariot. I don’t remember who was giving the talk or what the main topic was even about, but I do remember feeling incredibly uncomfortable at the way the speaker talked about his story.
Judas was a liar who turned in the messiah. A greedy barbarian. An ignorant disciple who traded in eternity for thirty pieces of silver. A coward. An unforgivable traitor.
I remember searching my heart, suddenly aware of my similarities to this “unforgivable traitor”.
How many times have my actions denied Christ? How many times, for even less than thirty pieces of silver, have I turned away from a spiritual prompting or have even gotten mad at God during a trial, whispering something harsh under my breath? How many moments in my life have I felt so alone that I wondered if God existed at all, my thoughts and my heart almost denying the fact that He stood right beside me? How many times have I felt so sorry for what I’ve done, seeking forgiveness and feeling the weight of my shame?
How many moments in my life have I been more like Judas than the Savior?
It was a scary thought. But then a peaceful thought came directly after it.
And yet—He loves me still.
We have all turned our backs at one time or another, clinging tight to our thirty pieces of silver. Our silver might be an addiction or a bad relationship. Our silver could be a horrible habit or pride. Maybe it’s lying or lust or laziness. Maybe its fear.
I have a hard time believing that Judas betrayed the Savior for money alone. In my years of studying the gospels I see fear as the motivation above all else. Fear of death, of persecution—of the misunderstanding that Jesus might have failed his country since the scriptures allude to him having the hopes that Jesus would be the one to overthrow the Roman rule of Palestine. There was no doubt a plethora of motives that plunged him into committing such a horrible act. And I see shame and grief following his suicide when it hits his heart that fear caused him to commit the very act that led Christ to the cross.
“When Judas, who had betrayed him, saw that Jesus was condemned, he was seized with remorse and returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders.” (Matthew 27:3)
Yet here we are, thousands of years later, trading our thirty pieces of silver and still finding ourselves fearful, jealous, or motivated by the wrong reasons. Human nature hasn’t changed, but yet we look back on the pages of history and label Judas as unforgiven.
How then, would there be hope for us?
We don’t delve into the story enough to see our own reflection and to realize that we are at times no better, and that we are also in need of rescue.
As I sit and ponder these things, I don’t mean to come across as justifying the actions of a man who betrayed the Savior of the world. I’m only meaning to remind you this season that he isn’t the only one who turned his back. We all have. We have all rejected the atonement at one time or another and have pounded the nails into his hands.
Yet—he loves us still.
Even when it’s all for thirty pieces of silver. Or a reputation. Or a certain lifestyle. Or pain that manifested into a hardened heart.
So take your unpardonable sins and feel loved anyway.
Take your Judas fear and hopelessness and follow Him anyway.
To me, that’s what Easter really serves to remind us of: the “anyway”.
Through the ages and through all the lineage that has led up to us, right here and right now, there’s no lack of love. There’s no change in how we are forgiven and how He loves us so unconditionally, besides our ignorance or our Judas tendencies.
Hebrews 13:5 reminds us, “Never will I leave you. Never will I forsake you.”
I look over the silver coins in my life and could easily weep over the many, MANY times I’ve let my Savior down in exchange for meaninglessness. I often feel heartache over the fact that he lay crumpled against a cold stone in a lonely garden, jaw clenched in agony over my wandering heart.
But instead I choose to see those coins in my life as testaments to how valuable to Him I really am.
That He would look past my imperfect love for Him and still love me perfectly.
As Heavenly Father so beautifully states in Romans 5:8: “I loved you at your darkest”.
And at our darkest, He gave his son.
Thank goodness for Easter Day. But thank goodness as well for Good Friday—our reminder that we can rise again.
And that He loves us—