Today we are going to follow Judas Iscariot as he makes the worst bargain of his life. This decision was foretold from the beginning but it still touches our very core when we read about it.
We don’t get to read about Judas’ call into service with Jesus. We don’t know much more than his name in the beginning. When Matthew lists Judas along with the others he doesn’t put an asterisk beside his name to warn us of impending issues. He is simply numbered among Jesus’ closest followers. Just one of the guys.
When Jesus sent His disciples out to minister to the people Judas was among them. He was given authority over sickness and demons, just like the other eleven. His partner didn’t complain that he wasn’t pulling his weight while they were out. They didn’t report any less success than the others. There was nothing that distinguished him from the others.
John comments on the fact that Judas was the one responsible for the group’s finances. He kept the money box and made the purchases. He also is reported to have dipped his hand into that same money box for his own purposes. This is actually the first time we hear anything bad about him. Up until then there was nothing that distinguished him from the rest of the group.
Jesus knew from the beginning what Judas would wind up doing. He didn’t withhold His love or instruction from Judas. He received the same insight into God’s Kingdom and Jesus’ purpose for coming as the other disciples. He was taught about forgiveness, mercy, faith, healing, integrity and living a Godly life right along side his fellow disciples and the crowds following Jesus. He didn’t receive private instructions and wasn’t excluded from any of the lessons Jesus shared. Jesus loved him as completely as He loved the rest of His disciples. But that was not enough to reach Judas’ heart.
Matthew tells us about Judas approaching the chief priest’s right after he tells us about Mary anointing Jesus with a costly perfume. Judas was upset by Mary’s gesture because he wanted some of the money the sale of the perfume could have brought in. I don’t know if Judas made that decision immediately following Mary’s gift or if he waited a little while before striking his bargain. I believe his missing out on that money was the straw that broke the camel’s back with regard to making him cross the line between disgruntled follower to betrayer.
I want to consider a couple of other reasons that may have pushed Judas into his actions. These reasons may or may not have entered into Judas’ decision. I’m just thinking through my fingers. First of all, Judas gave up his profession to follow Jesus. He may have been making a good income where he was at when Jesus called him to come follow Him. Second, Judas was never included in Jesus’ most inner circle of disciples. Peter, James and John appear in so many of Jesus’ stories and appear to have an even closer relationship with Him than the other disciples. Judas may have been jealous of their relationship. Third, Jesus’ teachings were becoming harder and harder for the common man to swallow. When Jesus said that we needed to eat of His flesh and drink of His blood MANY people abandoned following Him. Did Judas want to bail at this point too? Was he “forced” to stay by the lack of options? Fourth, did he get tired of Jesus talking about His impending death? Jesus warned His disciples four times about what was coming for Him. Did Judas decide that he was going to “help Him along?” Judas really didn’t want to see Jesus killed, only taken down a notch or two by the religious leaders.
Judas really didn’t know what he was signing Jesus up for when he struck his bargain. He was looking to make a quick buck off of everyone. Problem was he didn’t realize how deep he was in and how strong a hold Satan had on his heart. Judas became Satan’s tool.
Judas was also fulfilling a vital part of God’s prophecy. His actions were foretold from the beginning. Zachariah even prophecies the price Judas would receive to betray Jesus. God never made Judas choose the path he did, but He foretold what was going to happen over 600 years before the actual events. Judas made his own choices. Satan planted the seeds in Judas’ heart but Judas chose to water it.
My mom and I were discussing Judas the other day and we both believe that if he had come and asked Jesus for forgiveness that he would have been given it and restored in fellowship. Peter denied Jesus three times within Jesus hearing. He was restored to fellowship with Jesus when he came to Him on the beach. Judas never gave Jesus a chance to forgive him. He passed unequivocal judgment on himself. He sealed his own fate with his decision to hang himself. He had a chance as long as he was alive. I believe Jesus’ love would have reached even His betrayer.
Father God, only You know the heart. Judas put up a good front. Lord examine my heart. I want to serve You with my whole heart. Please search out all the hidden parts where I have denied You access. I want to tear out every seed Satan tries to plant. I know I have not always been faithful in dealing with his seeds over the years. Please help me identify them more easily and be willing to deal with the issues they spring from. I want to be a child after Your own heart.