When you think about Judas, probably the first thought is of a purely evil man who betrayed Christ for thirty pieces of silver. Thirty pieces of silver today would probably be worth $3,000 which does not seem like a huge amount to betray the Son of God.
There is not a great deal known about Judas. He was one of the twelve apostles chosen, so he had some redeeming qualities. He was given the same spiritual gifts as the other eleven apostles. Judas could drive out demons, cure disease and preach. When Jesus told the apostles one of them would betray him, the other apostles did not look at Judas in an accusing manner but hey begin asking one another which one it might be. Judas certainly did not admit to anything but played his part.
Judas was the treasurer for the apostles so you would think he was trustworthy. However, John12 relates the story of Mary pouring expensive perfume on Jesus’ feet. Judas objected and wanted to know why the perfume was not sold and given to the poor. Verse six states: “He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the bag, he used it to help himself to what was put into to it.” Wonder how many times he embezzled for his own use but continued to play his part as an apostle?
Judas spent three years of his apostleship with Jesus. Colin Smith writes: “Judas heard all the teaching of Jesus. He heard the Sermon on the Mount, so he knew there was a narrow road that leads to life and a broad road that leads to destruction. He heard the warnings Jesus spoke to the Pharisees, so he knew there is a hell to shun and a heaven to gain. He heard the parable of the prodigal son, so he knew God is ready to welcome and forgive those who wasted themselves in sin.”
So, what happened with Judas to make him betray Jesus? Smith continues: “Judas teaches us that even the best example, the most compelling evidences, and the finest teaching --- the ultimate environment for incubating faith --- cannot, in and of themselves, change the human heart.” Luke 22:3 reports that “Satan entered Judas.” Judas did not simply sin, but he hid his sin of embezzlement. His sin to betray Jesus did not just happen but was well planned out. Judas freely opened his heart and invited Satan in. That’s what happened to Judas. Judas played his part as an apostle.
Some commentators believe that Judas was predestined to betray Jesus because of David’s writings in Psalm 41:9 “Even my close friend, whom I have trusted, he who shared my bread, has lifted up his heel against me.” They also point out in Acts 17 that Peter referred to David’s words about Judas’ betrayal. John 6:64 states that Jesus had known from the beginning Judas would betray him. John 17 records Jesus’ prayer for himself. In verse 12, he tells God that he has protected the apostles so that ”None has been lost except the one doomed to destruction so that Scripture would be fulfilled.” These verses speak about foreknowledge, not predestination. Even after Jesus told the twelve one of them would betray him Judas asked, “Surely not I, Rabbi?” His heart was elsewhere. Judas was acting his part.
Max Lucado writes in his book, On The Anvil, “As Satan worked his way around the table in the Upper Room, he needed a special kind of man to betray our Lord. He needed a man who had seen Jesus but did not know him. He needed a man who knew the actions of Jesus but missed out on the mission of Jesus. Judas was the man. He knew the empire but had never known the Man.”
“We learn the timeless lesson from the betrayer. Satan’s best tools of destruction are not from outside the church; they are within the church. A church will never die from the immorality in Hollywood or the corruption in Washington. But it will die from corrosion within ---from those who bear the name of Jesus but have never met him, and from those who have religion, but no relationship. Judas bore the cloak of religion, but he never knew the heart of Jesus.”
Mr. Lucado is somewhat correct. While serving as an apostle, Judas did not relate to Jesus. But, when Judas realized that Jesus was condemned to die, the Bible records that he was “seized with remorse.” He then tried to return the silver and stated: “I have sinned, for I have betrayed innocent blood.” Judas, because of his great remorse hanged himself. It appears all that he had heard and witnessed with Jesus affected him but too late.
Satan found in Judas a receptive heart to temptations. He understood Judas’ weaknesses and continued to bombard him just as he does us. Mr. Smith writes: “Satan doesn’t gain a foothold in the lives of people who are walking in the light with Jesus. He only gains access when we open the door.”
Klass Schilder, the author of Christ His Sufferings, writes: “It is the peculiar majesty of Jesus that he can conquer man without man’s first approaching him. But Satan’s frailty is provided by this, that he cannot approach a soul unless that soul has first turned to him.” I was not sure I agreed with the second part of Mr. Schilder’s premise, so I searched the scriptures and do not believe I can disprove him. James 1:14 says “but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed” seems to add validity to his belief.
Let’s not play the part of being religious as Judas did. Let’s be real, know the heart of Jesus and have an honest relationship. Let’s not be like Judas and open our hearts to Satan.
Thought from a church marquee: Time and money spent serving God are never wasted!
My kind of humor from FB: The next time you are in the checkout line, and the clerk asks if you found everything you were looking for. Reply, why, are you hiding some things?