Outstretched Arms of Love: Day Thirty One, Wednesday

In this Lenten series I would like to invite you to consider Jesus’ “outstretched arms of love” toward all who followed him as disciples, seeking to emulate his life, self-sacrifice, and humble service to others. Today we will reflect on one distinct time and way Jesus stretched out his arms of love to all who beheld his glory, believed his message, belonged as his disciples, and sought to become more and more like his image and with more of their true identity in Christ Alone.

Read Matthew 26: 14-17; Luke 22: 1-6

Judas Iscariot. His first name has become synonymous with one word: betrayal.

“What are you willing to give me if I hand him over to you?” he asks the chief priests. “Thirty silver coins” was all they had; and all Judas apparently needed. So they watched him until he was able to hand Jesus over to them.  Jesus knew it was coming, for when they were reclining at table, he foretold it by saying “Woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man!” Judas had a rather ambiguous reply, “Surely not I, Rabbi?” Jesus answered him, “Yes, it is you.”

Luke tells us that “Satan entered Judas” and that’s what led to his going to the chief priests and officers of the temple guard to discuss with them how he might betray Jesus. Of course they were delighted at the possibility that one of the Twelve would make such an offer. This made their job much easier. And, Judas became a bit richer.  But only for a short time…those coins must have burned a hole in his pocket.

Since we know the rest of the story, we know that this denial killed Judas too…he was a wreck. For when he saw that Jesus was actually being condemned to death, he was seized with remorse and returned the thirty silver coins to the chief priests and the elders. “I have sinned,” he said, “for I have betrayed innocent blood.” So he threw the money into the temple and left to hang himself.  How incredibly sad to be a betrayer, even one with penitent sorrow after all was said and done.

If you’ve ever been betrayed by someone you thought was for you, you know how much this hurts. One can only imagine how Jesus must have felt, despite this plot being a part of the God-intended meta-narrative. Judas was one of his Twelve disciples, who had traveled with him and watched him perform miracles of healing and grace. He had interacted with the other disciples daily and for a few very significant years. Most likely with obedience as his regular track record, this time he fell into the hands of evil and was used as a tool of Satan in this life-destroying betrayal.

Betrayals are rare but costly to any relationship. Like Judas, they most often come at the instigation of the enemy who wants to destroy every healthy relationship. And, in vulnerable moments, even the best intentioned person can be curtailed and led astray. When the enemy whispers in the ears of the most susceptible, his trickery can quickly create interpersonal upheaval and destruction.

But, we know Jesus didn’t treat Judas any differently as a result of his betrayal. We still see him with outstretched arms of love toward Judas, just as he always had offered. Behold Jesus exhibiting unconditional love toward his Judas; believe in the redemptive value of repentance; belong to those who are accused and betrayed because of Jesus; become strengthened in the power of Christ.


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Steve Macchia

Founder & President

The Rev. Dr. Stephen A. Macchia is founder and president of Leadership Transformations, Inc. (LTI), a ministry serving the spiritual formation, discernment, and renewal of leaders and learners since 2003. For more than 20 years he has been the Director of the Pierce Center for Disciple-Building at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, where he also serves as an adjunct faculty member in the Doctor of Ministry Program. From 1989-2003 he was the president of Vision New England, the largest regional church renewal association in the country. Earlier in his ministry life, Steve was a member of the pastoral staff of Grace Chapel in Lexington, Massachusetts for 11 years. He is the author or co-author of 17 books, including The Discerning Life (Zondervan Reflective), and Crafting a Rule of Life, Becoming A Healthy Church (LTI), and Broken and Whole (IVP).  He and his wife Ruth live in the Boston (MA) area and are the proud parents of two married children and grandparents to three adorable grandchildren. Steve’s personal website is www.SteveMacchia.com.

My soul comes alive singing the great hymns of the church and enjoying the beauty of God’s creation. I’m in awe of God for fulfilling the dream for LTI that he birthed in my heart, for the team he has assembled, and the transformational impact experienced in the leaders and teams we serve.

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Mitzi Mak

Selah-West Faculty

Mitzi started her professional life as a high school social studies teacher. She and her husband Jerry then served cross-culturally for ten+ years, living abroad first in India and then Kurdistan, N. Iraq. In addition to being a Spiritual Director, she now serves as a Formation and Care pastor in her local church in Houston, TX. She has graduated from LTI’s Selah Spiritual Direction training as well as LTI’s Emmaus Formational Leadership Program.

Mitzi enjoys engaging conversation, reading fiction, doing jigsaw/crossword puzzles, ocean gazing and exploring the world with Jerry through food and travel.

God has two main callings in Mitzi’s life: to care for those who care for others and to be a guide in helping others have a healthy relationship with the Trinity – recognizing God’s loving presence and activity in their lives and how to faithfully respond.

Selah was a transformative experience for me – allowing the contemplative within to emerge and to beautifully co-exist with my extraverted personality.