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Did Judas have a genuine relationship with Jesus?

Judas was one of the twelve people chosen by Jesus to live with and learn from Him. Judas ate and slept and talked with Jesus for three years. He served Jesus, obeyed Him and ministered miraculously in His name. Jesus spoke to him and with him as a friend would talk with a friend. Does this constitute a “genuine relationship”?

Like all Christians Judas had his failings. Although he knew what Jesus thought of theft he stole secretly from the common purse. His love of money ultimately led to his betrayal of Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane. Can someone who betrays a friend and loves what their friend forbids really have a genuine relationship with that friend?

But this betrayal was quickly followed by extreme feelings of remorse, public confession and restitution. Sadly though no peace was found from the guilt and suicide ensued.

There seems to be nothing in this scenario that precludes a genuine relationship. There is no question that the relationship was seriously flawed, at least in one direction. But it is not dissimilar to the flawed but genuine relationships we see around us everyday.

Take for example husband who conceals his gambling addiction from his wife. He steals money from their joint bank account to feed that addiction. Or consider the wife who after several years of marriage betrays her husband through an adulterous encounter with a work colleague.

Does a gambling habit or an affair mean that there was never a true or real or genuine relationship between the two individuals? Clearly the relationship could not be as healthy as it could be. But an unhealthy relationship is still a genuine relationship.

Relationships are in fact two reciprocal relationships. However the way in which the two parties relate to each other may be markedly different. Take for example the devoted husband and the distant wife. The husband chooses his bride and with great love and anticipation begins a new life with her. He eats meals with her daily. He serves her. He helps and advises her. He provides for her needs. There is no question that he has a real and devoted relationship with her.

Perhaps the wife begins this relationship with anticipation and love as well. She is honoured to be chosen by such a reputable man. But after time deep weaknesses that have never been resolved start to control her. It leads to the ultimate betrayal and results in deep pain for them both. For one is the pain of betrayal. The other feels the pain of guilt and remorse and utter failure.

But nothing described above suggests compels one to conclude that the relationship was not genuine. The relationship from the husband’s perspective was in every sense genuine. No doubt he felt distance at times from his wife. But he really did love and serve and talk to and eat with and enjoy the company of his wife.

His wife, although seriously flawed, could also show real love to her husband. She too ate with and served and talked to and listened to her husband. Her dark secrets did not mean she could not engage her husband on a genuinely intimate level.

The parallels between these examples and the relationship between Jesus and Judas are both easy and reasonable to make.

It is certain that the relationship Jesus had towards Judas was characterised by similar devotion. He loved Judas in the way he exhorted all people to love each other. But Jesus took that love further by choosing Judas from among thousands to live with and learn from him. Jesus served Judas, provided for Judas, trusted Judas, Blessed Judas, ate with Judas. He knew Judas and called him his friend. There was nothing disingenuous about the relationship Jesus had with Judas.

It seems reasonable to assume that Judas reciprocated much of this as well, albeit in a flawed, perhaps an increasingly flawed, way.

What constitutes a genuine relationship? Helpful in answering this question is to consider what does not constitute a genuine relationship. A genuine relationship is not a perfect relationship, it does not require that both parties love each other in the same way or to the same degree. It does not require that the relationship end happily. Nor does it require complete honesty from both parties.

The most basic quality of a genuine relationship is that both parties know each personally. This is perhaps the only criteria needed to say that one person has a relationship with another.

Second, a genuine relationship is one where both parties communicate. A refusal to communicate does not necessarily mean there was or is no relationship. It just means the relationship is presently dysfunctional.

Third, a genuine relationship is probably one where both parties have willingly chosen to spend time with the other. People in a relationship desire this and it’s absence suggests an absence of any reply relationship.

Fourth, a genuine relationship at some point involves mutual service. This is another way of describing love for each other.

Finally, a genuine relationship normally produces remorse or guilt when one is wronged by the other. If one party can injure the other with no feelings of sadness or self loathing then it suggests that there is no real relationship from the guilty party to the injured party.

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