Judas Betrays Jesus
(Matthew 26:14-16; Mark 14:1-2; Luke 22:1-6; John 11:45-57)
“Then one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went unto the chief priests, and said unto them, What will ye give me, and I will deliver him unto you? And they covenanted with him for thirty pieces of silver. And from that time he sought opportunity to betray him,” (Matthew 26:14-16).
What really moved Judas to betray Jesus through a carefully planned plot, with such callous disregard for Jesus’ life ? What was in the soul of this man, who cared very little about the life of His master? The fallen world has always tried to remove from Judas the monstrous nature of his sins and the consequences of them. You frequently hear, “Judas was not really guilty, but he thought Jesus was going to be able to convince the Sanhedrin that He was the Son of God, their Messiah, and avoid being murdered, or Judas repented, that’s why he killed himself.” We also frequently hear that “Judas was predestined to betray Jesus, and he was a pawn of destiny, of a God that likes to use humans like puppets, and this is why, there was nothing Judas could have done to avoid his destiny.”
In this brief meditation, we are going to see that these arguments are not only wrong, but play well with the confusion the fallen world creates by trying to minimize sin and normalize it in our culture. The true nature of sin is a disease of the soul that uses our will born of pride. It is an addiction that grows, until the individual who gave his will to sin is unable to control it; his actions become more outrageous and out of control, ending with the individual’s spiritual death and the destruction of his body. In the spiritual world, there is no neutrality, whether you have the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of God in you, or you do not have it, and belong to the fallen world. In this last case, those who belong to the fallen world, also belong to the prince of this world:
“We know that we are from God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one,” (1 John 5:19); “Hereafter, I will not talk much with you: for the prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me,” (John 14:30); “You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies,” (John 8:44); “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world,” (1 John 2:15-16).
Judas was one of the twelve apostles. While Jesus had many disciples, the twelve apostles were those closest to Him. They shared in His ministry, they knew Him intimately, and Jesus taught them with special care, because they were going to bring the Gospel to a multitude of new believers. Thus, the predilection that Jesus had for the twelve, and the responsibility that Jesus felt to teach them well.
Judas was greedy, his greediness was the dominant feature of his character and his main sin, and from his greediness, stemmed other sins, lying to his master and the other apostles, and his lack of concern for the well being of others, shown by stealing the funds that Jesus had reserved to help the poor, (John 12:4-6). Sin is selfishness and pride; when we sin, we are only thinking in our own pleasure and comfort and we disregard love of neighbor and the common good. The creature loves herself and her sin more than her Creator or her neighbor. Thus, even when Jesus taught to love Him by keeping His commandments (John 14:15), Judas could not obey or believe in Jesus as the Messiah of an eternal spiritual Kingdom. He was with Jesus for personal profit and pride: his greediness, and selfishness, living in the fallen world made him blind to Jesus’ teachings:
“Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe. They are unable to see the glorious light of the Good News. They don’t understand this message about the glory of Christ, who is the exact likeness of God,” (2 Cor 4:4).
If it is bad to steal, it is even worse to steal from the needy and poor. Yet, Judas was conceited and selfish. He gave himself willingly to his greediness and passions, even when he was aware that Jesus knew what was inside of his heart, (John 2:24); in reality, Jesus knew what Judas was doing. Thus, Judas was not deceiving Jesus, but Judas was deceiving himself.
Judas’ passion for money dominated him:
“Six days before the Passover, Jesus therefore came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. So they gave a dinner for him there. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those reclining with him at table. Mary therefore took a pound of expensive ointment made from pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (he who was about to betray him), said, “Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii, and given to the poor?” He said this, not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief, and having charge of the moneybag he used to help himself to what was put into it. Jesus said, “Leave her alone, so that she may keep it for the day of my burial. For the poor you always have with you, but you do not always have me,” (John 12:1-8).
Sin usually starts with a little fault, a spark of fire, that grows uncontrollably, until it burns all the spiritual house leaving the soul a mere cinder. Sin never remains static, but grows inflamed by our own will to stay in it, and becomes uncontrollable; if we don’t take care to root out sin through repentance, and contrition, asking forgiveness to Jesus when the first spark appears, it will destroy us. Jesus immediately forgives the repented soul and His forgiveness and our repentance will keep the spark of sin far from our souls. Jesus, immediately, comes to the help of those asking Him to save them from their passions. In contrast, the demons will take possession of those who won’t repent but persist in their sins, loving the sin more than their Creator. The very presence of those demons cause them to descend even more in their sins and their passions and makes them insensitive to the pain that their sins cause in others.
“Then Satan entered into Judas called Iscariot, who was of the number of the twelve. He went away and conferred with the chief priests and officers how he might betray him to them. And they were glad, and agreed to give him money. So he consented and sought an opportunity to betray him to them in the absence of a crowd,” (Luke 22:1-6).
Judas agreed to give away Jesus for 30 denarii, the equivalent of $600. What is the worth of a human life? And what is the worth of the Son of God? Life is priceless, but money was Judas’ god, and he sold Jesus for worthless money. He consciously did this, not as a puppet of anybody, but he premeditated his deception, employed his will to plot, to scheme against Jesus and to hand Him over to the priests who envied Him for the huge crowds that followed Him. Jesus unmasked them as a corrupt priestly class, as religious leaders who did not follow God, making it difficult for the people to follow God and for this reason they hated Him:
“What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs–beautiful on the outside but filled on the inside with dead people’s bones and all sorts of impurity,” (Matthew 23:27).
The holiness of Jesus has many enemies. Those who live in the fallen world, hate holiness that is the light of God; those who live the Word of God and love their neighbor remind the unbeliever of their sins and corruption, of their darkness, and for this reason alone, they hate holy Christians: “If the world hates you, understand that it hated Me first,” (John 15:18); “And the judgment is based on this fact: God’s light came into the world, but people loved the darkness more than the light, for their actions were evil,” ( John 3:19). The hate of the Pharisees and the ruling class for Jesus was not unknown to Judas; Yet, Judas plotted with the Pharisees to betray Jesus, knowing that they wanted to murder Him. After Judas agreed with the Pharisees to hand over Jesus, he sat at the table with Jesus to celebrate the Passover. Thus John says: “During supper, when the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him” (John 13: 2).
Judas was perfectly possessed by demons because he gave his will to sin; he agreed willingly, to hand over the Son of God, and without remorse, he went to share the Passover meal with Jesus, taking from His hand the bread dip in the bowl (John 13:26). He felt the loving act of Jesus of washing his feet, and heard with indifference Jesus say, “The one who eats my food has turned against me,” (John 13: 13-18). The affection and care that Jesus showed him even when he was living in his sin, should had been enough to move him to ask Him forgiveness, but Judas did not show remorse or reach to Jesus repented of his sin of betrayal.
Judas had a lot of time to change his mind, but he did not. Instead he was searching for the best moment to hand Jesus over to the Pharisees. After Jesus prayed on the Mount of Olives, Judas was leading a mob with swords and clubs to apprehend Jesus and gave Him a kiss to signal that Jesus was the one the guards had to apprehend, (Mark 14:44; Luke 22;47-48; Matthew 26:47-56).
Such act of betraying Jesus with a kiss was indeed the sarcastic and hypocritical act of an enemy not of his apostle and friend. To the tender reproach of Jesus, “Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?” (Luke 22:48), Judas showed no remorse. The supernatural events that show Jesus as Son of God, and One with God, of men stepping back, falling to the ground, when Jesus identifies himself as “I am he, ( John 18:3-6), or Jesus healing of Malchus’ ear after Peter’s sword severed it, did not move Judas or the crowd to repentance (John 18:10; Luke 22: 50-51).
“When Judas, who had betrayed him, realized that Jesus had been condemned to die, he was filled with remorse. So he took the thirty pieces of silver back to the leading priests and the elders. “I have sinned,” he declared, “for I have betrayed an innocent man.” “What do we care?” they retorted. “That’s your problem.” Then Judas threw the silver coins down in the Temple and went out and hanged himself,” (Matthew 27:3-10).
Judas knew when he betrayed Jesus, that Jesus was going to suffer even to death. Jesus had many times talked during his ministry of His terrible, impending death on the Cross, but finally Judas was able to grasp the enormity of his sin, and the horrible consequences of his actions. He must have remembered the words of Jesus about the traitor: “but woe unto that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! it had been good for that man if he had not been born” (Matthew 26:24).
Finally, after the fact, Judas’ conscience accuses him. He throws down the bag of money in the temple declaring that “he betrayed innocent blood,” and he was filled with desperation, and his anger towards himself and indignation moves him to hang himself. Notice the indifference of the priestly class and the elders, who are truly demon possessed and spiritually death.
There is no true repentance in Judas that leads to conversion and to the feet of Jesus. He had time to run to Jesus’ jail where he spent time before his trial, or see His master in the way to Calvary. He had time to pray to God and ask forgiveness, but Judas never asked forgiveness, and refused to deal with the consequences of his sin choosing to hang himself. His sin destroyed him, the consequences of sin bring death. Sweet was that money when he had it in his hands, yet, the wedges of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord, (Romans 6:23). Judas chose his path, by his own will he sinned and got the exact price of it: “Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness” (1 John 3:4).
Jesus knew before hand Judas was going to betray Him, yet He kept Judas with Him, to show us that He loves sinners, even unto death and would never give up on us, regardless the enormity of our sins, until we, by free will, decide definitely to keep Him away. Jesus does not force us to love Him, but as loving children He wants us to decide to be with Him.
The devil used Judas as a pawn to destroy Jesus, but Jesus was victorious over death and now lives eternally. Many people take the route of Judas, they sin willingly, getting deeper and deeper into it, letting their sin get out of control with predictable consequences. Since they don’t believe in Jesus, and in fact, they detest Him, they do not ask forgiveness, and their conscience and the devil accuse them, driving them to desperation and to destruction. They commit suicide thinking that then, it will be over, but in the afterlife, their conscience and the devil will continue accusing and tormenting them for an eternity.
“So that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness, to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord,” (Romans 5:21); “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us,” (1 John 1:8-10).