Erstwhile Friends

“But it was thou, a man mine equal,
my guide, and mine acquaintance.
We took sweet counsel together,
and walked unto the house of God in company…”
Psalm 55:13-14 (NASB)

“And while He was still speaking,
behold, Judas, one of the twelve,
came accompanied by a large crowd with swords and clubs, 
who came from the chief priests and elders of the people. 
Now he who was betraying Him gave them a sign previously,
saying, ‘Whomever I kiss, He is the one; arrest Him.’ 
And immediately Judas went up to Jesus and said,
‘Greetings, Rabbi!’ and kissed Him. 
But Jesus said to him, ‘Friend, do what you have come for.’ 
Then they came and laid hands on Jesus and arrested Him.”
Matthew 26:47-50 (NASB)

One of life’s most painful experiences is to be betrayed by a friend. For example, when an adult child takes their parents’ retirement savings and spends them on partying, the son is actively evil and referred to as an erstwhile friend. In other words, they were once in a very close relationship, but now the one proves to be an enemy.

In the Bible narrative Judas proves to be an erstwhile friend to his Master. During his years with the Master, he received every benefit the other eleven apostles did. He was honoured as treasurer for the group. His ministry received the same blessings the other apostles enjoyed. When the Teacher said to the Twelve that one of them was a traitor, each questioned themselves, shocked at the disclosure. Only one knew to whom Jesus referred and that was Judas himself. Psalm 55:13-14 details how close to Jesus Judas was.

We don’t know for certain why Judas betrayed his Master but it seems clear he did not wish the Saviour to be arrested and taken to trial. Had he wished that then his suicide would not have made sense, for who takes their own life when they are successful?

Surely the Master’s heart was broken by Judas returning evil for good. Scripture tells us that the Lord does not take pleasure in the death of evil people, rather that they repent (Ezekiel 33:11). Heaven rejoices over one sinner who repents (Luke 15:7).

Was the wicked deed by Judas the low point in the Good Shepherd’s ministry? Possibly. However, the loving Good Shepherd demonstrated how much He loves even His enemies (Matthew 5:44) as He taught us to do.

Calling Judas “friend” while Judas was in the act of betrayal demonstrates how committed the Redeemer is to us all.

If you have fallen Christian friend, rise in hope and renewed determination to faithfully serve the One Who loves you with an everlasting love (Jeremiah 31:3).

He calls you friend among other terms of endearment. His love never falters. Come to Him and come now.

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