Judas! The very name causes an emotional response in many people. It is sometimes used to curse those who have done wrong and especially those who betray a friend or associate.
Judas! The word is used in derision of anyone who betrays. Often spat violently at the betrayer with an invective that could cut between body and spirit. A hateful retort against another designed to inject as much enmity, anger and wrath against a person who has wronged another.
Such emotion. Such wrath and such anger. Is there any other name among men that can inspire such vehemence and hatred? Let us look at the roots of this feeling by looking at the man and what he did.
Judas the Man
Judas was the son of Simon Iscariot and there are varying theories as to what the name “Iscariot” refers. Some suggest it refers to a town or region where Simon and Judas came from, a place called “Kerioth.” There are other suggestions that the name derives from a Hebrew or Aramaic word. In Hebrew there is a similar word that translates as “the liar,” and in Aramaic there are two similar words, one meaning “to deliver” and another meaning “red collar.” Whatever the roots of his name were, from the time he was discovered as the one who gave up Jesus to be arrested and put to death, Judas Iscariot now means “Betrayer.”
Judas was selected as one of the twelve close disciples of the Lord and he had a part to play, both as a disciple and in the grander scheme of things. Jesus said of him, “”Did I not choose you, the twelve, and one of you is a devil?” (John 6:70)
So Jesus was well aware of who and what Judas was when he was selected. Jesus knew that Judas would never be a faithful follower and a keeper of the truth of the Gospel.
Judas never repented and turned from his wicked ways. Even though he walked with Jesus and saw the unfolding of His ministry, Judas never turned from his sin but went from bad to worse. We see in another example just how he continued to do evil even while he served as one of the twelve. In John 12:6 it says, “This he said, not that he cared for the poor but because he was a thief, and as he had the money box he used to take what was put into it.”
So from all of this we know that Judas the man was full of evil intent and always opportunistic to get whatever he could. He was always seeking to find “what’s in it for me” and not concerned about others. He suffered from the love of money which, as Paul wrote in 1 Timothy 6:10, is the root of all evil and through it a person’s faith and walk could be destroyed. Judas was the ultimate example of such a fate.
Judas was selected for the role of the betrayer long before he was even born. It was ordained that Jesus would be betrayed and that His life would be sold for thirty pieces of silver.
Matthew wrote, quoting the prophets of old saying, “And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of him on whom a price had been set by some of the sons of Israel…” (Matthew 27:9) It had been established in prophecy that the Christ would be betrayed and that his betrayer would be paid thirty pieces of silver for his dastardly deed.
But Judas, like many who came before and after him, was not obvious. Like the devil himself who is the master of guile and deception, Judas was well disguised. Looking like an apostle, he used deception and trickery to achieve his own desires. Even the other eleven disciples could not pick Judas a the betrayer when Jesus announced that one of them would betray Him. He put up a mask of false piety to hide his true intentions.
Now we see in this scripture that Judas was commissioned by Jesus to carry out this deed. While they sat at table Jesus said that his betrayer would be the one to whom he gave the next piece of bread dipped in wine, and it went to Judas. After this we see the following occur.
27 Then after the morsel, Satan entered into him. Jesus said to him, “What you are going to do, do quickly.”
28 Now no one at the table knew why he said this to him.
29 Some thought that, because Judas had the money box, Jesus was telling him, “Buy what we need for the feast”; or, that he should give something to the poor.
30 So, after receiving the morsel, he immediately went out; and it was night.
Satan himself entered into Judas and drove him to the betrayal. Who was the real betrayer? Judas was the vessel used, but Satan was the betrayer then, just as he is now and always has been.
But the betrayal did not occur at Judas’ or Satan’s authority. It did not occur until Jesus commissioned him/them saying, “What you are going to do, do quickly.” What occurred was done under the full control and authority of God, and this should encourage us. Nothing that happens to or with the people of God occurs without the full knowledge, authority and control of the Lord. Unless He allows a situation to happen and authorises it, it will not happen.
And so we see that Jesus authorised Judas and Satan within him to go and commence the process of betrayal that would lead to Jesus’ death, but also to our salvation through His death and resurrection.
Salvation in the Betrayal
The betrayal by Judas had been prophesied hundreds of years earlier. It was meant to happen exactly the way it occurred. And even though Judas was selected for this role, he was also selected as part of the twelve and there was a ministry to be fulfilled for the Lord. He was subsequently replaced after the Lord had been killed and resurrected.
The betrayal is one of the darkest moments in the history of the world. But it led to the greatest point of glory that could or would ever occur. Even though Jesus was betrayed and it was ordained to happen, the subsequent outpouring of His Grace to mankind which leads to salvation through His death and resurrection more than outweighs the suffering He went through for us.
He chose to give us this gift of life by giving up His own life. He chose to become the sacrifice that would provide the opportunity of salvation to all mankind. It is now up to us to choose to accept His gift and be saved.
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