I wonder: how many of us consider ourselves above betraying Jesus in the manner in which Judas did? I know I used to think I would never have done what Judas did, no matter what the circumstances. Nevertheless, I have come to realize how easy it is for many of us to ignorantly take part in similar betrayals of the one we love so much. I intend to write two or three articles in an effort to show how some of us, including myself, could and perhaps have been taken in by men who operate outside of the control or influence of the Spirit of God.
I do not believe Judas set out to “betray” Jesus, as we understand the word. The Greek word is paradidomi (G3860) and is used of God delivering Jesus over to die (Romans 8:32) that we might be saved. It is used of Jesus giving himself that I might be saved (Galatians 2:20; Ephesians 5:2, 25). It is also used in Mark 4:29 of fruit brought to maturity. My point is that the word translated “betray” (paradidomi, G3860) does not necessarily mean evil. I believe Judas thought he was doing a good thing (Proverbs 21:2). He was convinced he knew what he was doing and would not be deterred from bearing the fruit of his heart (Matthew 26:24; Mark 14:21; cf. John 13:25-30). I don’t mean to try to defend Judas or make him look less guilty than what he was. Nevertheless, I believe we miss something when we do not see what Judas actually did. It is easy for me to say, “How could this man have done such a thing?” Yet, I wonder if I might be tempted to do the things Judas did, perhaps not as brazenly, but without really considering what I am doing.
As I look over the Church today and consider the ministries contained therein, I can rejoice in the work of God in his people, the Body of Christ, fitly joined together edifying itself in love (Ephesians 4:11-16), while it carries the Gospel to the world. Yet, there is a negative side to all this too, perhaps a side similar to that lived out by Judas. There are those who have their own agenda to work out. They speak of Christ, not necessarily in an evil way, but they would rather spin his words their own way, usually a monetarily profitable way, a way in which the end justifies the means and glorifies themselves rather than Christ. They present themselves as so wise and knowledgeable, a ready friend of Jesus “in these end times.” It is their ministry that saves the most souls, and they need my support. Jesus said, “…and the Gospel will be preached to all nations and then the end will come,” and they ask me to be one of those who brings Jesus back to this earth by supporting their ministry. They call on the phone. They send numerous form letters asking for support. At times, some have even insinuated that it may be a sin not to support them. Is this what Christ did or would have me do today?
Judas was called and ordained by Jesus and was sent out to preach the Gospel. He was given power to heal sickness and cast out demons (Mark 3:13-15; Luke 6:7, 13). He was not someone who infiltrated the ranks of Christianity. He was a ‘Christian’ in the sense that he was a follower of Christ. Nevertheless, Judas was called of God and empowered to do the work of God, and he obeyed and did what Jesus told him to do (Luke 9:1-2, 6; Mark 6:7, 12-13). Jesus considered him a part of his spiritual family (Matthew 12:49), and said that Judas was his friend (Matthew 26:50; cf. Luke 12:1, 4). Judas understood spiritual matters about the Gospel of the Kingdom (Matthew 13:11; cf. Luke 10:23-24). He worshiped Jesus and claimed he was the Son of God (Matthew 14:33). When Jesus told the disciples that he would be turned over (betrayed) to men and killed, Judas was exceedingly sorry (Matthew 17:22-23). He desired to know the word of God (Mark 4:10, 34) and that Jesus would increase his faith (Luke 17:5). He rejoiced and praised God with a loud voice as he and others brought Jesus triumphantly through the eastern gate of Jerusalem (Luke 19:37-40; John 12:12-16), and during Jesus’ final meal with the twelve, Jesus greatly desired that this time would be spent with them, including Judas (Luke 22:15). Yet, Jesus knew from the beginning who it was that would betray him (John 6:64). Something about Judas revealed his true character to Jesus as he chose him to be one of the twelve.
From the beginning, a seed was taking root in Judas’ life. He nurtured and fed it, because it was pleasant in his sight and good to nourish his spirit, and he craved its wisdom (Genesis 3:6). After one and a half years of ministry and walking with Jesus (Mark 3:14), obeying him (Mark 6:7, 12) and empowered by God for the work of the Gospel (Mark 6:7, 13; Luke 9:1-2), even to the point that Herod wondered about those things done through him and the other disciples, Judas was warned by Christ to cease his slanderous behavior (John 6:70). Christ’s warning was public, yet Jesus preserved Judas’ identity, giving room for repentance. It should be noted here that Christ did not call him a devil. Christ never made railing accusations (cf. 2Peter 2:11; Jude 1:9). The word used in John 6:70 for “devil” is diabolos and is the same word used as a name for Satan. However, it is also used in 1Timothy 3:11, 2Timothy 3:3 and Titus 2:3 for slanderers or false accusers. It is in this sense that I believe Jesus used the word as a warning to Judas. So, what was Judas doing, and how could he have hid it from the other disciples?
In my next post, which can be read HERE, I hope to show how I believe Judas was involved in a matter that led him away from Jesus. The point is, however, anything we believe we must hide from those closest to us, could never serve them well. Could it? Judas had a secret life that brought slander upon Jesus and the disciples. I need to be aware of this and careful of how I serve the Lord that I don’t bring slander upon him or Christianity. Nothing in this world is worth doing that, but Judas seemed to think differently, didn’t he? Yet, up to the very end, Jesus addressed him as, “Friend!”