– Wednesday of the 7th Week of Easter –
“I have watched over them and not one is lost except the one who chose to be lost” [John 17:12]
It is not uncommon for people who have had something to do with religion to think of God as an all-powerful figure who looks to wave the hand at humanity and cast sinners into hell. It’s as though there were many who deeply wanted to enter heaven, but they were not good enough and were therefore sent against their will to eternal punishment. This notion of God fails to recognize what Christ has done through his life, death and resurrection, but it also fails to understand the nature of God’s relationship with humanity. In today’s gospel we discover something about the way God interacts with those that do end up ‘lost’ for eternity. Jesus in his prayer to his Father says “I have watched over them and not one is lost except the one who chose to be lost.” Most commentators would agree that the reference to the one who ‘chose to be lost’ is a reference to Judas who betrayed Jesus. In his prayer, Jesus refers to Judas as the ‘one who chose to be lost.’ That is to say, Judas’ status as the ‘one who is lost’ was his own choice.
What is also fascinating about the life of Judas is that he didn’t always make this choice. He walked with Jesus as a disciple for three years. He was in Christ’s presence, saw his miracles, heard his teaching and partook in the last supper. Presumably there was a point where Judas had chosen to follow Jesus, but in the end, he chose to be lost. To choose God, and therefore heaven, is always confronting because it means surrendering to one who is higher and greater than us. It means giving ourselves to the one who made our ‘self’ possible. It is when we surrender ourselves that we find our true selves and all of eternity with it. Judas in the end could not surrender himself, and in doing so, became ‘lost.’ The question for us is what do we choose now, and what will we continue to choose? We may choose God now, but in the end choose ourselves. Will we continue to choose God? In the end there are really only two ways to live – my will be done, or thy will be done! Which will it be?
by Peter Pellicaan