In only the previous chapter (Mark 13), Jesus has been telling of the times to come and how to tell when he might return. Not only is all this quite vague, but he made no effort to sugar-coat the fate he saw awaiting his disciples – “When these things begin to happen, watch out! You will be handed over to the local councils and beaten in the synagogues. You will stand trial before governors and kings because you are my followers. But this will be your opportunity to tell them about me.” (Mark 13:9) It is not that hard to imagine, given the difficulty the disciples often had keeping up with Jesus’s radical and amazing ministry, that Judas was simply overwhelmed and afraid for his own life.
There is a long history of God’s people powerfully rejecting God. In fact, the more they have seen of God the more likely they tend to be to react badly. In the passage below, the Israelites bitterly complain that they ate better when they lived in Egypt as slaves.
Numbers 11:1-6 NLT
Soon the people began to complain about their hardship, and the Lord heard everything they said. Then the Lord’s anger blazed against them, and he sent a fire to rage among them, and he destroyed some of the people in the outskirts of the camp. Then the people screamed to Moses for help, and when he prayed to the Lord, the fire stopped. After that, the area was known as Taberah (which means “the place of burning”), because fire from the Lord had burned among them there. Then the foreign rabble who were traveling with the Israelites began to crave the good things of Egypt. And the people of Israel also began to complain. “Oh, for some meat!” they exclaimed. “We remember the fish we used to eat for free in Egypt. And we had all the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions, and garlic we wanted. But now our appetites are gone. All we ever see is this manna!”
Mark 14:10, 11 NLT
Then Judas Iscariot, one of the twelve disciples, went to the leading priests to arrange to betray Jesus to them. They were delighted when they heard why he had come, and they promised to give him money. So he began looking for an opportunity to betray Jesus.
For all the joy and peace, for all the gifts of faith and revelations in the Word, I have also experienced a good measure of difficulty since I came to realise my faith in Jesus. The Israelites in the wilderness suffered hardships they were not accustomed to. Judas Iscariot and the other disciples had lived with the son of God. But now they, quite literally, faced a torturous future. Dear Lord, thank you for all the blessings you have showered upon me. Now please give me the strength to bear the challenges and hardships you have also laid before me.
Numbers 10:1-11:23, Mark 14:1-21, Psalm 51:1-19, Proverbs 10:31-32