In my last post, I talked about Judas – his background, his calling by Jesus, and some possible motives for sinning. Today, I’d like to look more at the character of Judas.
John 12:1-8 shows Judas true heart towards people and God:
Six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus lived, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. 2 Here a dinner was given in Jesus’ honor. Martha served, while Lazarus was among those reclining at the table with him. 3 Then Mary took about a pint[a] of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.
4 But one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray him, objected, 5 “Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages.[b]” 6 He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it.
Judas only cared about the money. Further, he only cared about himself. Judas didn’t care about the poor, seeing people healed, or Jesus’ salvation plan. He only cared about what was in it for him. Let’s look at the trigger event that could have caused the betrayal:
7 “Leave her alone,” Jesus replied. “It was intended that she should save this perfume for the day of my burial. 8 You will always have the poor among you,[c] but you will not always have me.”
Jesus rebuked Judas. So what does Judas do? Let’s look at the account of Matthew, which I believe is in chronological order. Matthew 26:6-13 is the account of what we just read about Martha and the perfume and Jesus’ rebuke to Judas. In the Matthew account, Judas is not named. Instead, it is toward the disciples that Jesus speaks. But in verse 14-16, we see Judas going to the chief priests:
Then one of the Twelve—the one called Judas Iscariot—went to the chief priests 15 and asked, “What are you willing to give me if I deliver him over to you?” So they counted out for him thirty pieces of silver. 16 From then on Judas watched for an opportunity to hand him over.
So Judas was hurt by Jesus’ rebuke. His ego was crushed. His pride brought low. Instead of seeking forgiveness, Judas sought to get back at Jesus, to ruin him. As I was reading this account, it reminded me of the interaction between Cain and God. Genesis 4:1-8:
Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain, saying, “I have gotten a man with the help of the Lord.” And again, she bore his brother Abel. Now Abel was a keeper of sheep, and Cain a worker of the ground. In the course of time Cain brought to the Lord an offering of the fruit of the ground, and Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat portions. And the Lord had regard for Abel and his offering, but for Cain and his offering he had no regard. So Cain was very angry, and his face fell. The Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.”
Cain spoke to Abel his brother. And when they were in the field, Cain rose up against his brother Abel and killed him.
Wow. Isn’t this comparison startling to anyone but me? Again, Cain could have reacted so much differently. Instead of listening to God, he killed his brother. If you read further in the account, he is sent away, but God still loves him — placing a mark on him so no one would murder him. Cain commits the first murder and God still takes care of him!
Similarly, Jesus rebukes Judas, but instead of turning, he acts on his anger and goes to meet with the chief priests. Jesus still is patient with Judas. He gives him yet more time to change. Wow. Can you just see the patience that God has for us?!
Judas was a heart hearted fool. I like how Matthew Henry describes Judas best:
Judas, as an apostate, was guilty of the basest treachery: he lifted up the heel against Christ.
[1.] He forsook him, turned his back upon him, went out from the society of his disciples, John 13:30.
[2.] He despised him, shook off the dust of his feet against him, in contempt of him and his gospel. Nay,
[3.] He became an enemy to him; spurned at him, as wrestlers do at their adversaries, whom they would overthrow.
Note, It is no new thing for those that were Christ’s seeming friends to prove his real enemies. Those who pretended to magnify him magnify themselves against him, and thereby prove themselves guilty, not only of the basest ingratitude, but the basest treachery and perfidiousness.
No excuses for Judas. He sat under Christ’s teachings, he had opportunity for change and growth, and yet he chose to betray the Lord. Despite Jesus patience and love for Judas, even washing the man’s feet, Judas still could not accept Jesus. He let sin master him and eventually it took him over:
After saying these things, Jesus was troubled in his spirit, and testified, “Truly, truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me.” The disciples looked at one another, uncertain of whom he spoke. One of his disciples, whom Jesus loved, was reclining at table at Jesus’ side,so Simon Peter motioned to him to ask Jesus of whom he was speaking. So that disciple, leaning back against Jesus, said to him, “Lord, who is it?” Jesus answered, “It is he to whom I will give this morsel of bread when I have dipped it.” So when he had dipped the morsel, he gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot. Then after he had taken the morsel, Satan entered into him. Jesus said to him,“What you are going to do, do quickly.” Now no one at the table knew why he said this to him. Some thought that, because Judas had the moneybag, Jesus was telling him, “Buy what we need for the feast,” or that he should give something to the poor. So, after receiving the morsel of bread, he immediately went out. And it was night. (John 13:21-30, ESV)
Are we like Judas? Do we sit in church and listen, thinking we are walking with God but have no love for our Lord? Do we look for opportunities to love him more or are we self-seeking? When someone rebukes us in a Christ-like, loving manner, do we run away from the church or God and find ways to “get back” at them?
I have been guilty of this in the past. I will post more about Judas, but I just want to say how this study has really changed me. I feel like God is teaching me so much using this example of Judas. We can’t look at sin lightly. We must not let it master us. In the next few posts, I’ll try to look at how we can lean into Christ and put away self.