Why Did Judas Iscariot Betrayed Christ?

Judas Iscariot bargaining with the chief priests
Judas Iscariot bargaining with the chief priests

The Traitor

The disciple Judas Iscariot, his name appears last in every biblical list of disciples. We also find a notation about his being a traitor.

He has been universally scorned because he double crossed Jesus Christ. His life is possibly the most colossal failure in human history. He was a tragic example of lost opportunity and a classic illustration of how the love of money can be the root of evil.

When Judas bartered away the life of Christ, he was actually selling his soul to Satan. His life was a tragedy of his own making. He spent three years with Jesus then betrayed the holy Son of God for a handful of silver, condemning himself to torment for eternity.

Judas's torment started immediately after Jesus was arrested, causing him to commit suicide.

Judas betrays Jesus with a kiss
Judas betrays Jesus with a kiss

Why Did Judas Iscariot Betray the Christ?

Judas had the same potential as the other 11 disciples but he was never really drawn to the person of Christ. He saw Jesus as only a means to an end.

Judas's real goal was personal prosperity, the light of truth only hardened his heart.

He heard the lessons Jesus taught, many of them applied directly to him. For instance, Jesus spoke about the love of money (Matthew 6:19), pride (Matthew 23:1) and the unjust steward (Luke 16:1).

Judas had ties with a group called the Zealots. This was a radical Jewish sect, terrorists in those days, similar to some of the radical Islamic terrorist groups of today.

At the start of Christ's ministry many disciples thought (including Judas) that the Messiah would defeat the enemies of Judea and rid Israel of the Roman occupation. Then reestablish the thrown of David. He became disillusioned when he realized that this was not going to happen.

Judas Iscariot - A Hypocrite

He was able to work his way into a place of trust. Judas became the treasurer of the group and used that position to embezzle funds.

One night Judas snuck away from the group and walked from Bethany to Jerusalem (approximately 1.5 miles), there he met with the chief priests and sold Jesus to His enemies for a pocketful of silver.

The night Jesus was betrayed, Judas had already been paid his price to hand Jesus over to the temple guards. Yet he sat among them in the upper room, blending into the group and pretending nothing unusual had happened. Later that night he betrayed Jesus with a kiss on the cheek.

Judas's betrayal of Jesus was not an act of insanity but deliberately planned and premeditated.

Judas had hoped to see Jesus bring about an earthly, political, military and economic kingdom. He left everything to follow Jesus and hoped to be rewarded with wealth, power and prestige.

In the beginning of His ministry, other apostles had similar views but their love for Christ overcame their worldly ambitions.

Judas became disappointed, although he was able to hide his disappointment under a cloak of hypocrisy. He was looking for a way to acquire some money or recover his loss of the years he invested in following Jesus.

Eventually, this lead him to the chief priests of the Sanhedrin where he asked, "What are you willing to give me if I deliver Him to you?" They counted out to him thirty pieces of silver (the price of a slave in those days). Judas then sought an opportunity to betray Jesus.

His Role of Betrayal / Foretold in The Old Testament

Psalm 55:12 "For it is not an enemy who reproaches me, then I could bear it. Nor is it one who hates me who has exalted himself against me, then I could hide from him. But it was you, a man my equal, my companion and my acquaintance..."

Zechariah 11:12 "They weighed out for my wages thirty pieces of silver. And the Lord said to me, throw it to the potter. So I took the thirty pieces of silver and threw them into the house of the Lord for the potter."

Jesus knew Judas would be the one to fulfill the prophecies of betrayal. He chose him to fulfill the plan.

Can Judas Iscariot be held accountable for his horrendous deed if it was foreordained before the foundation of the world?

God's plan and Judas's wicked deed concurred perfectly. The Lord of hosts is not bound by time and space, he knows all from beginning to end. That is why He is the Alpha & Omega.

Judas acted freely, no invisible hand forced him to betray Christ. He is responsible for his own actions.

God, who works all things according to the counsel of His own will (Ephesians 1:11), ordained the events by which Jesus would die and Judas carried out his evil deed by his own choice.

What Lessons Can We Learn From Judas?

He listened to Jesus teach for about three years, he could have received any help he needed from the Lord and exchange the burden of his sin for rest. Christ gave an open invitation for anyone to do so (Matthew 11:28). A tragic lost opportunity.

He was given a high place of privilege as one of the 12 disciples but squandered that privilege for a fistful of silver.

Judas's love of money brought him down to the pit of torment. Had Judas come to Christ after the resurrection, his sin may have been forgiven but his suicide sealed his fait. After all, Peter was forgiven for his denial of Christ. Each of us has the same opportunity of forgiveness, no matter what the offence.

Judas's life is a reminder for each of us to examine our own lives. The gift of redemption exists for us in this life only. Once we pass into the spiritual realm our fait is sealed. So if you or someone you know is facing suicide due to horrific torment, I urge them... come to Christ, remember Matthew 11:28-30?

Judas is a intense demonstration of the deceit and fruitless works of hypocrisy. The branch that does not abide in the True Vine bears no fruit and is cut off (John 15:6).

It's been said many times in many ways and I'll say it again. The greatest threat to the faith of Christians comes from within the church (the body of Christ) in the form of hypocrisy. Not from external attacks by openly declared enemies of the gospel (as illustrated in Psalms 55:12 and 41:9). There are Judases today who practice their deceit from within the church and in the end will face the same torment as their predecessor.

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Judah's Daughter profile image

Judah's Daughter 6 years ago from Roseville, CA

This is an excellent hub, Michael Jon. While it's a controversial subject on HubPages (as some feel Judas was the best friend of Jesus and willingly took the fall for His purpose, thereby was saved), they are mistaken. I like how you painted the picture of Judas' character and what led him down the road to destruction. God's will is accomplished, every dot and tittle. His Word was spoken through the prophets and still propesies of things to come ~ it will all be as He said.

Michael Jon profile image

Michael Jon 6 years ago from St. Louis Author

Judas had as much opportunity as anyone to turn from his sin. Christ appealed to him many times urging him not to do the deed he was planning (Matthew 26:24) and (John 6:70) are a couple of examples.

Jesus cautioned him about the woe that would come to the person who betrayed Him and told the 12 disciples that one of them was a devil. Yet Judas was unmoved.

PS. Your comments are appreciated.

Judah's Daughter profile image

Judah's Daughter 6 years ago from Roseville, CA

Amen. And regarding Matthew 27:3 "Then Judas, which had betrayed Him, when he saw that He was condemned, REPENTED himself, and brought again the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders,”

This Greek word “repented” is not the same as repentance unto salvation, but rather regret of what he’d done and the sure sentence of condemnation. This is an excerpt from the following website: http://www.reformedonline.com/view/reformedonline/

"The Greek word which is used to describe Judas’ change of mind (metamelomai) is quite different from the other Greek verb translated repent (metanoeo) which is used to describe repentance unto salvation. "Metamoeo" basically means to ‘change one’s mind.’ So it is properly translated ‘repent’ in most instances. It involves the intellect and will. “Metamelomai” has to do more with the emotions, and so does not indicate true biblical repentance. Judas’ repentance was not for sin as committed against God and Christ but for the consequences of sin. As Paul said, “For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death” (2 Cor. 7:1)."

Michael Jon profile image

Michael Jon 6 years ago from St. Louis Author

Excellent point Judah's Daughter, thanks for the input.

angela_michelle profile image

angela_michelle 6 years ago from United States

This is a very thorough and accurate portrayal of Judas. Great job here. I actually linked your hub (which far exceeds my own) to mine on the same topic. Great job, rated up and useful.

Michael Jon profile image

Michael Jon 6 years ago from St. Louis Author

angela_michelle, thanks for your comment. You are so kind and also modest.

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