Posted by: New in Every Way | March 13, 2013

The Pretender

I can hardly believe it! Yesterday, my thermometer read 70 degrees. This morning, the temperature was back in the 40’s, but I heard the birds singing before dawn. I asked someone if spring typically begins in March in Kentucky and he said it does, pretty much. What a great place to live! About three months of nippy air and snowflakes, snuggly sweaters and hot cocoa–then spring again! All of which makes it easier for me to believe that Easter is right around the corner.

This week I’m continuing the Easter theme  by sharing another of my father’s essays about the events of Passion Week. It is taken from the devotional book we co-authored.

Hypocrite_two-faced The Tragedy of Religious Pretense

Read John 13:21-30

After the joyous conclusion of Jesus’ last Passover with his disciples in the Upper Room, he led them out to Gethsemane. There he suffered through the greatest struggle of his earthly life as he pleaded with his Father for strength to endure the torture of the Cross. When the struggle was over, he rejoined his disciples to prepare them for what was about to happen.

While he was still speaking, a crowd came up. The man who was called Judas, one of the Twelve, was leading them. He approached Jesus to kiss him, but Jesus asked him, “Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?”  (Luke 22:47-48).

Would you name your son Judas? Why not? He was one of the Twelve Apostles like James and John.  I am sure he was a sincere follower of Christ when he left all to follow him. But somewhere along the way he drifted from his original commitment. He became dishonest in his business dealings and openly criticized Mary for expressing her devotion to Christ by anointing him with expensive perfume. At last he betrayed Jesus to his enemies.

We don’t know why he betrayed his Lord. Some people feel that he thought he could make a mockery of the haughty scribes and Pharisees. He could point Jesus out to them, but Jesus could walk through their ranks and escape as he had done at Nazareth when the townspeople tried to throw him over a cliff.

Perhaps he wanted to earn some money to replenish the treasury. He had said that Mary should have sold the expensive perfume so they would have money for the poor.

It seems likely that he was trying to force Jesus to declare himself king and drive out the Romans. His hopes had been high when Jesus made his Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem, but nearly a week had gone by with no further action. He could confront Jesus with the soldiers and force him to act now.

Whatever his motive, it was the way he went about it that has forever condemned him in our sight. He pretended to be Jesus’ close friend and follower to the end. He shouted “Hosanna” at the Triumphal Entry. He attended the banquet at the house of Simon the Leper. He was present at the Passover feast in the Upper Room until Jesus dismissed him. He pointed Jesus out to the soldiers by crying “Hail Master” and kissing him!

In Judas we see the tragedy of religious pretense. Let us carefully examine our own lives to be sure we are not betraying our Lord by deceit, unkind acts, or spiritual apathy, while pretending to be his devoted followers.            – F. Burleigh Willard, Sr.

9781425978358_cover.inddFrom Streams of Living Water: A Daily Guide to Devotional Meditation on God’s Word  by F. Burleigh Willard Sr. and Celia Willard Milslagle.


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  1. Okay, that’s just mean!!! I was driving home the other day and in a 45 mile stretch I encountered snow the size of quarters, frozen balls of sleet blowing horizontally and huge drops of rain. Could you give me the directions to Kentucky?

    • If it makes you feel any better, the last two days have been . . . wintry. Back down to the 30’s. I asked my hairdresser about this and she said, “You never know about Kentucky weather.” Isn’t that what we always said about Illinois weather? But I just stepped out on my balcony and it felt pretty warm again.

  2. It’s good to hear Burleigh’s words still speaking today. I can almost see him sitting in his lazyboy nodding his approval. He was a wise man.

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