The Son of Man indeed goes, as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed. It would be better for that man if he had never been born.” Then Judas, his betrayer, said in reply, “Surely it is not I, Rabbi?” He answered, “You have said so.” - Matthew 26:24–25
Was Judas in denial? Did he truly think that he was not the one who was to betray Jesus? We do not know for certain what was going on in Judas’ mind, but one thing is clear…he did betray Jesus. And it appears from his words that he didn’t see his act as a betrayal and, therefore, he was in deep denial.
Denial, if written out as an acronym, has been said to mean that I “don’t even know I am lying.” Perhaps Judas was so steeped in his own sin that he couldn’t even admit to himself, let alone to others, that he was lying and preparing to betray Jesus for money. This is a scary thought.
It’s scary because it reveals one of the effects of persistent sin. Persistent sin makes sin easier. And eventually, when one persists in the same sin, that sin is easily rationalized, justified and denied as sin altogether. When one gets stuck in this downward spiral of persistent sin it’s hard to get out. And often the only way to survive the psychological tension is to remain in denial.
This is an important lesson for us this Holy Week. Sin is never fun to look at and takes great courage to do so. But imagine if Judas would have actually confessed to what he was about to do. Imagine if he would have broken down in front of Jesus and the other Apostles and told them the whole truth. Perhaps that act of honesty would have saved his life and his eternal soul. It would have been painful and humiliating for him to do so, but it would have been the right thing to do.
The same is true with you. Perhaps you are not at a point where your sin is leading you to outright betrayal of Jesus, but everyone can find some pattern of sin in their lives this Holy Week. You must seek to discover, with God’s help, some pattern or habit you have formed. What a great discovery this would be if you could then face this sin with honesty and courage. This would enable you to shed any bit of denial regarding your sin and enable you to conquer that sin so as to discover the freedom God wants you to experience!
Reflect, today, upon Judas saying to Jesus, “Surely it is not I, Rabbi?” This sad statement from Judas must have deeply wounded our Lord’s Heart as He witnessed the denial of Judas. Reflect, also, upon the many times that you deny your sin, failing to sincerely repent. Make this Holy Week a time for honesty and integrity. The Lord’s mercy is so deep and pure that, if you would understand it, you would have no need to remain in any form of denial of your sins.
Lord, help me this Holy Week to have the courage I need to face my sin and weakness. I am a sinner, dear Lord, but it can be very hard for me to admit it. May I entrust my sin to You so that I may be set free and receive, in its place, Your abundant mercy. Jesus, I trust in You.