What happened to Judas after he betrayed Jesus? “He changed his mind.” This phrase has also helpfully been translated, “He was seized with remorse” (NIV). Judas’s heart was altered, seemingly instantaneously—and with it, so was his perspective.
The Judas we see in the Garden of Gethsemane, leading a procession of armed men to arrest Jesus with boldness and barefaced animosity, is not the Judas we see here, hours later, before the chief priests and elders. His hardened heart was replaced by a spirit of regret that gripped his soul.
Consider Judas’s experience for a moment, and let it be a reminder that sin always offers false hope. The moments before we sin very often feel radically different from those that follow. It’s the same drastic change that Adam and Eve felt in the Garden of Eden following their disobedience. All they knew in the moment before eating the fruit, all they anticipated in that act of rebellion, became dust in their mouths (Genesis 3:6-8). In the same way, all that seemed so attractive to Judas in handing over Jesus to His enemies quickly became nothing to him.
When we sin, all of the bewitching, intoxicating influences—all that drew us to rebel—passes away in a moment. What glittered turns out to be fool’s gold. Only the naked fact remains: I have sinned against a holy, loving God.
With such radical remorse, we have a choice: repent and be reconciled to God, or despair and condemn ourselves. Tragically, Judas chose the latter. His guilt was so great that surely every face he saw accused him, every sound he heard pierced him, every reverberation in his soul condemned him. He attempted to alleviate his guilt by returning his payment to the chief priests—yet lifting the weight of the bag of coins off himself wasn’t enough to lift the weight from his heart. Feeling isolated and beyond reach, he died a dreadful death.
Maybe today you’re also feeling weighed down by your sin. Maybe you’ve sought to fix matters yourself, but the weight still bears down. If so, know this: Judas’s story doesn’t have to be yours. You can turn to Christ. He offers freedom and forgiveness: a yoke that is easy and a burden that is light (Matthew 11:28-30). This is what Christ died for—the redemption of sinful betrayers like Judas.
Judas’s example stands as a reminder to us next time sin beckons us. What sins are proving particularly tempting to you at the moment? Remember, how they look beforehand is not how they will feel afterward. For moments of temptation, here is help, and for moments of guilt, here is hope. God’s forgiveness stands waiting for our remorse and repentance. All you must do is turn to Him.
How is God calling me to think differently?
How is God reordering my heart’s affections — what I love?
What is God calling me to do as I go about my day today?
Create in Me a Clean Heart, O God
To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David, when Nathan the prophet went to him, after he had gone in to Bathsheba.
1Have mercy on me,1 O God,
according to your steadfast love;
according to your abundant mercy
blot out my transgressions.
2Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
and cleanse me from my sin!
3For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is ever before me.
4Against you, you only, have I sinned
and done what is evil in your sight,
so that you may be justified in your words
and blameless in your judgment.
5Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,
and in sin did my mother conceive me.
6Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being,
and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart.
7Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
8Let me hear joy and gladness;
let the bones that you have broken rejoice.
9Hide your face from my sins,
and blot out all my iniquities.
10Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and renew a right2 spirit within me.
11Cast me not away from your presence,
and take not your Holy Spirit from me.
12Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
and uphold me with a willing spirit.
13Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
and sinners will return to you.
14Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God,
O God of my salvation,
and my tongue will sing aloud of your righteousness.
15O Lord, open my lips,
and my mouth will declare your praise.
16For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it;
you will not be pleased with a burnt offering.
17The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.
18Do good to Zion in your good pleasure;
build up the walls of Jerusalem;
19then will you delight in right sacrifices,
in burnt offerings and whole burnt offerings;
then bulls will be offered on your altar.
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