The Betrayer

What makes people valuable? Is it what we can contribute to society? Does our value lie in whether we matter to others? Does being satisfied with who we are give us worth? Many consider one or some of these things to be what imbues people with value. Even many Christians believe that being a ‘good Christian’ is what gives them value in God’s eyes. But these beliefs are far from the truth.

The Chosen, a crowd funded, high-end television production of Jesus’s time doing ministry with his disciples, has been breaking records since it first broadcast in December 2017. Its latest release, episodes one and two of season three, debuted in theaters and quickly found its way into the top three at the box office.

The first episode shows the first meeting between Jesus and Judas Iscariot, the one who would betray him. This was a moment that may have given many Christians pause as The Chosen portrays Jesus showing Judas just as much respect, love, kindness, and value as he does all the other disciples. Some may wonder how this could have been, given that Jesus knew that Judas would be his betrayer. But this question is flawed in its inception. Jesus didn’t love any of the disciples because of what they could or would do for him. In fact, when Judas tries to give Jesus reasons to let him become one of his disciples, Jesus tells him that he does not require that of any of his disciples. He loved each and every one of them because he saw them as having inherent value that is not correlated to anything they have done. This is also how he sees each and every person who ever has lived or ever will live.

God’s Breath of Life
In the beginning when God created all things, he created the living animals that roam the earth. The Hebrew word used for living in this context is nephesh, which means soul. This word is also used to describe man as a living soul or being when God creates him. God does something when he brings man to life that he doesn’t do with all the other living creatures: he breathes his own breath of life into mankind.

All living people have God’s breath of life within them. It is one of the few things that sets us apart from the rest of creation. It shows that God has created each and every one of us with inherent value. He made our physical bodies out of dust, but he did not leave us to be only that. He didn’t leave us to just be alive the way the rest of earth’s creatures are. Instead, he put his own breath within us. He has chosen us to have a unique relationship with him before we were ever born. Before we could even do anything to earn it, he decided that he would impart unfathomable value into us. It is not self-worth, but God-given worth. It is value that can’t be taken away. This means that God values you and me, and every person in the world, just as we are.

Earning Our Worth
This concept may strike some as strange. How can we say that God values people just as they are when there are so many rules in the Bible that people are supposed to follow? Having all those rules seems to suggest that something about us needs to change before God can love us. However, that’s not the case at all.

God wants to have a relationship with us, but we so often tell ourselves and others that there is a list of things that we need to do in order to have a right relationship with God. Outside of God’s grace, any attempt to ‘live up to’ God’s standard comes out of a heart of pride that thinks we can somehow be good enough to save ourselves. It is when we realize how much we truly cannot do any of those things ourselves that we really understand how much we need God’s grace. He died for those who would betray him, including Judas.

Christ’s Love
How could that be? How could Jesus do something like this for his enemies? By all human standards it doesn’t make sense. Who would choose to die for their enemy? For those who would betray them? It is because of God’s great love that this was possible. God does not simply have love, he is love (1 John 4:8). Love is a person. If you think about whoever or whatever you love most in this world, the love you have doesn’t compare with how much God loves you. His love is incomprehensible and infinite, it cannot be lost. . . and cannot be earned. It is freely given.

This love and grace that God offers is the kind that changes people. Instead of viewing a person as worthless because he or she sins, God extends grace and makes those who believe new creations who have the freedom to say “no” to perpetual sin. He makes all things new, including our innermost hearts. He takes hearts that are “deceitful” and “beyond cure” and makes them hearts able to love him with everything they have (Jeremiah 17:9; Mark 12:30).

How does this happen? God says that his mercies are “new every morning” (Lamentations 2:22-23, ESV). By coming to him everyday in honesty and humility about where we are in life—spiritually, emotionally, and physically—we can receive his mercies. If we ask, God will provide exactly what he knows we need. No matter how big or little the mess-up, and no matter if it is said through tears or laughter, God wants us to come to him just as we are, seeking a relationship with him.

So, for each and every person who has wondered if they have value, the answer is “yes!” However, your ultimate value can never be found in your transitory identity, what you do, or who cares for you. Rather, it is because of what God has done—and not because of what we do—that we have been given intrinsic value. He made the ultimate sacrifice to show us just that.

It seems that Judas believed his actions were what gave his life meaning and value. When he betrayed Jesus he didn’t believe he could come back from that act. He saw ending his life as his only option, believing that any life lived after a sin like that could never be one of value. Yet each and every one of us has God’s breath of life in us. Because of that, we are unfathomably valuable. Because of that, Jesus showed Judas unconditional love.

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Rebecca Sachaj

Rebecca Sachaj is enthusiastic about helping fellow believers deepen their relationship with God. After finishing her Bachelor of Arts in Rhetoric and Writing, she pursued further study in Apologetics through The Oxford Center for Christian Apologetics. She plans to obtain her Masters in Apologetics, focusing on the connection between the Christian Imagination and Apologetics. She lives in Colorado Springs, Colorado with her two dogs, Strider and Samwise.