“Then Judas Iscariot, who was one of the twelve, went off to the chief priests in order to betray Him to them. They were delighted when they heard this, and promised to give him money. And he began seeking how to betray Him at an opportune time.”—Mark 14:10–11 (NASB)
An opportunity of a lifetime—you may have had one. A moment, an event, a season—we grab it and run with it. Opportunities involve choices, often with lasting impact, and they fall into the hands of good and evil alike.
Consider Satan and his temptation of Jesus in the wilderness. After failing to stumble Jesus, “he left Him until an opportune time” (Luke 4:13 NASB). That opportunity arrived when Satan entered Judas, stirring up Judas' willingness to be led astray (Luke 22:3–4). With the silver clutched in his hand, he sought an opportune time to hand Jesus over.
And what of Judas Iscariot? What opportunities were presented to him? The finest! To be among the Twelve chosen by Jesus, to learn directly from Him, to be imbued with power and work miracles. Yet, he forsook all of it—he forsook glory to choose another path, a self-driven path. An apostle in name only, his heart never changed. He followed Jesus for personal gain. Sadly, that was his choice, and his eternal trajectory followed the darkness of his heart.
Then there is Mary. She also had the opportunity to know Jesus, to follow Him, eat with Him, and adore Him. And she did adore Him—so much—and created an opportunity to show Him. John’s gospel tells us that days before Jesus would be crucified, Mary poured all her costly oil upon her Lord. A tremendous price for some, but a small thing to one so spiritually minded. Mary gave herself to poverty to offer Him honor.
Lastly, for us there is the charge to do good to all people while we have opportunity, especially for our family in Christ (Galatians 6:10). But opportunities involve choices, so Jesus places this before us: “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, . . . But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it” (Matthew 7:13–14 NIV).
Following Jesus can be a difficult road. Satan wants to control it; Judas wanted to manipulate it. I pray we will all be like Mary—traversing in faith and humility the narrow gate and road, not giving an inch to the enemy, making Jesus the essential person in our lives, forgetting personal gain, and sparing no expense for the sake of Christ. Let’s strive to create a lifetime of opportunities to worship, serve, and glorify the One who spared no expense for our sake.
Pause: What do you think was at the core of Judas’ betrayal of Jesus? Greed may not be the only thing.
Practice: Take a personal account of any greed, covetousness, or self-gratifying feelings you may hold. Prayerfully commit to removing them from your heart where Jesus should have His rightful place.
Pray: Lord, I commit everything to You. Help me to remove any greed or idolatry in my heart and so You can take Your rightful place. Amen.