Judas: Giving Up Jesus
Judas Iscariot is a name that lives in infamy to all Christians and to many who know very little about the Bible. Although his name is readily recognized, what do we really know about Judas? His surname, Iscariot, means “a man of Kerioth” (All the Apostles of the Bible by Herbert Lockyer). Kerioth was a town located in the southeastern part of Judah. Based on this surname, Judas was likely a native of this town. His hometown made him a bit different from the other named apostles who were from Galilee, an area located in the northern part of Palestine. As a rule, those from southern Judah did not have much regard for their Galilean brethren. The Gospel of John tells us several times that Judas was the son of a man named Simon (John 6:70, 13:2 & 26).
We are never told just how Judas came to be a disciple of Jesus. In fact, our first introduction to Judas in scripture is as one of the twelve disciples that Jesus hand selected to be His personal assistants, apostles (Mt 10:4, Mark 3:19, Luke 6:18). Luke records for us that Jesus prayed all night before making His selection of the twelve. Judas, like the other 11 apostles, participated in the “Limited Commission” and was given, by Jesus, the power to cast out demons and heal all manner of diseases (Mt 10:1, Mark 3:13-15). John’s Gospel tells us that he had charge over the money box for Jesus and “the twelve” (John 12:6, 13:29) and was a thief (John 12:6). On multiple occasions in the scripture his name is followed by the descriptor “who also would betray Him” (Mt 10:4, Mark 3:19, John 18:2 etc). Luke describes him as a traitor in Luke 6:18. However, the conversation between Jesus and His apostles on the night of His betrayal suggests that Judas was not the likely suspect among his brethren to betray Jesus (John 13:21-29). He betrayed Jesus to the Jewish leaders for 30 pieces of silver (Mt 26:14-16), the price of a slave (Ex 21:32). He betrayed Jesus with a kiss in the Garden of Gethsemane (Mt 26: 48-49). Finally, Judas, when he realized Jesus was condemned, felt remorse, and tried to return the silver but when the Chief Priest rejected the money, Judas hung himself (Mt 27:3-5).
Based on these few facts that we are given about Judas, what are some conclusions that we might draw about this man? How are we the same? How can we be different? First, let’s notice that he was a Jew and a follower of Jesus. The very fact that Jesus ultimately selected him to be one of the twelve apostles suggests, at least on the surface, that Jesus recognized that he had some very noble qualities. Perhaps he was a man with the gift to speak and thus could be a very influential teacher of the Gospel. Also note the fact that he was given charge of the money bag (the treasurer for Jesus and the apostles). Perhaps he was one of the more educated of the 12 thus possessing better money management (business) skills. Are you using your talents to serve in the Kingdom of Christ? The fact that none of his brethren with whom he had spent the better part of three years suspected him as the traitor suggests that Judas was able to “put up a good front.” We might say “he played the role well.” Have you or are you just playing the part of a follower of Jesus? Like all of us, Judas’s character was flawed. He is a great example of the ”double minded man” that James speaks about. Greed and the love of money competed with his devotion to Jesus, making him “unstable in all his ways”. This flaw was his great weakness that ultimately led to the crucifixion of Jesus. Do we not sometimes struggle with being the “double minded” person? Does not our sin put Jesus on the Cross? I no doubt believe that Judas had “reasoned in his heart” that his great leader, Jesus, would be able to dupe the religious leaders of the day and escape their arrest. After all, He had avoided their attempts to arrest him in the past. Do you ever “reason in your heart” to justify your flawed behavior, your SIN? Finally, although Judas was remorseful and maybe even repentant, he was a bigger coward. He could not stand the shameful consequences that might follow him after his great betrayal, so he took his own life, dying in his sinful state. Can we not sometimes choose that same path by refusing to repent of our sinful deeds because of the feared consequences and thus dying in our sinful state?
So what? I hope you might notice that all of us just might be a little like Judas. The question comes, “What will you do with Jesus?” Is there something in your life for which you are willing to Give Jesus Up? How about family or friends? Perhaps an unscriptural (sinful) relationship (fornication, adultery, homosexuality)? What about fame, fortune, or power? Perhaps drugs, alcohol, or sexual addictions? It might even be for your hobbies or pleasures of the world that are not sinful in and of themselves. Remember, ANYTHING (good or evil), that we might place “ahead of” or “instead of” Christ makes us a TRAITOR! Christ requires our whole HEART and MIND! Where are you?