Written by Stephen Passmore
Then one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, “What are you willing to give me if I deliver Him to you?” And they counted out to him thirty pieces of silver. So from that time he sought opportunity to betray Him. (Matthew 26:14-16)
Dante was an Italian thirteenth century poet, and so serious in his mind, was the betrayal of Christ by Judas, that in his epic poem, “Inferno,” he portrayed Judas as one of the ultimate sinners. And if we are to be realistic, not many people choose to name their sons Judas, do they?
Judas of course, as one of the twelve disciples, travelled with Jesus and heard both His words and witnessed His miracles. We also know that Judas held an important role within the ‘Twelve,’ – he was in charge of the money bag. But we learn from John 12:6 that Judas liked to help himself to what was put in that bag. So Judas was a thief, but he was also the one according to John 12:4, who led the criticism against Mary, when she anointed Jesus’ feet with a very costly perfume. It was more than he could bear to see, and he called it wasteful. Although outwardly, Judas followed the Lord, something meant more to him than anything else. He loved money. And it is probable that when Jesus publicly rebuked Judas for his negative comments about Mary’s costly devotion, and it is probable that when Judas realized that being a follower of Jesus was not going the way he wanted, and being a follower of Jesus was not going to give him all that he hoped it would give him materially, that the die was cast, because it was shortly after the anointing at Bethany, that Judas made a deal with Jesus’ enemies, and offered to betray Him. Not surprisingly, the chief priests were delighted to have Judas on their side. What a bonus! And in Luke’s gospel (Luke 22:1-6), we are told that Judas ‘conferred’ with the chief priests and the captains, and the sense here is that Judas haggled over the price until finally 30 pieces of silver were agreed on.
Jesus of course knew all about Judas’ intentions, and we can only imagine how he, Judas felt, when Jesus predicted at the Passover meal that one of His own inner circle would betray Him. Interestingly after Jesus spoke those words, “Assuredly, I say to you, one of you will betray Me,” the disciples all started saying, “Lord, is it I?” They all knew you see when they searched their hearts, that everyone of them had the capability of being a Judas. And the possibility of betraying the Lord is in the heart of everyone of us, and sometimes we betray Him for less than thirty pieces of silver.
Well, Jesus did everything possible to awaken Judas and bring him to the point of repentance, but Judas would have none of it, so he went ahead with his dastardly deed in the Garden of Gethsemane, and what should have been a token of affection, became a token of betrayal. That of course was not the end of Judas because we read in Matthew 25, that when Judas saw that Jesus had been condemned, he was full of regret, and he threw the money back to the chief priests and elders, and then he took a rope, wrapped it around his neck, and swung into eternity.
In Luke 22:3, we are told, “Then Satan entered Judas, surnamed Iscariot, who was numbered among the twelve. So he went his way and conferred with the chief priests and captains, how He might betray Him to them.”
This should remind us that we need to put on the whole armour of God, so that we may be able to stand strong against the schemes of the devil. He is always out to get Jesus’ followers.
We also know that Judas was fixated on earthly wealth.
This should remind us that Jesus said, “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.” (Matthew 6:24) So let us put God first.