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Lessons from Judas Iscariot

Updated on July 22, 2013
Giotto di Bondone (1267-1337), Cappella Scrovegni a Padova, Life of Christ, Kiss of Judas
Giotto di Bondone (1267-1337), Cappella Scrovegni a Padova, Life of Christ, Kiss of Judas | Source

Judas Iscariot is often remembered for his betrayal of Jesus and his name become a symbol of traitors throughout history. He was one of the 12 apostles that always travel together with Jesus during his ministry. How can someone who is in the presence of the Light fall from grace into darkness? Here are some points of thought from the life of Judas:

  • Evil often merges with good cause. During the dinner to honour Jesus (John 12:2), perhaps for raising Lazarus from the dead, Mary wanted to honour Jesus in a special way with a costly perfume. The spikenard ointment costs 300 pence or worth a year's wages for common workers. Judas has moral pretense by expressing his concern for the needy. John revealed that the real reason is because he was a thief (v. 5-6). Jesus commanded him to leave her alone, perhaps Judas may have been trying to physically restrain her, thinking that some of the ointment can be saved and sold for a profit.
  • Intolerance to criticism can lead to revenge. Judas may be stung by Jesus' rebuke at the feast and planned for revenge by betraying Jesus.
  • Judas traded Jesus for 30 pieces of silver, the value of a slave that is accidentally killed (Exodus 21:32), to fulfill Zechariah 11:12.
  • Paradoxically, Judas' unholy deed occur at the most holy celebration in Judaism, which is Passover.
  • In ancient Middle East, the host of a banquet customarily took a piece of bread, dipped it, and present it to the guest of honor. It may be Jesus' last gesture of love to Judas
  • Judas perverted something good for evil by kissing Jesus as the sign that the soldiers can identify him. Judas turned a symbol of intimacy into an instrument of betrayal.
  • Judas regret his deeds. He may want to force Jesus to inaugurate His kingdom and overthrow the Roman oppressors. It is either starting resistance against the Romans or death.
  • Judas was no victim, he is the perpetrator. Judas' desire was to betray Jesus and satan come and empower that evil desire.

1. Proximity to light does not guarantee complete illumination

Shadow may arise whenever light shines on a room, be it caused by obstructions such as table, chairs, or any objects. Likewise, the presence of the light in our heart will not ensure that our heart will be illuminated if we have objects that blocks the light. Going to the church is never a guarantee that we will emerge as God's righteous people. It's about the change of heart, when we let the light of God to illuminate completely to every single corner of our heart. Judas refused to let the light of God to expose the dark places of his heart. We should be careful of:

  • Spiritual light without authentic faith
  • Light without enlightenment
  • Knowledge without belief

There's a difference between knowing biblical truth and spiritual truth, and between knowing the bible versus knowing God. Knowing the Bible can be obtained simply by examining and studying the word of God or reading articles related to it. However, the personal knowledge of God can be obtained only with personal relationship with God.

Not everyone who says to me, Lord, Lord, will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven." - Matthew 7:21

2. Judas loved money, Mary loved Jesus

Judas was one time a close disciple of Jesus. He left all he had and followed Jesus, but covetousness and greed got into his life, corrupting his heart. Remember that a child of God can fall from grace and be lost, therefore be steadfast and guard your heart. 1 Corinthians 10:12 says:

So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don't fall

Money is not the problem, but the love of money is, and this is the area where Judas fell. Money, the instrument that men created, has blinded and control his own creator. The pursuit of wealth with the wrong motives (greed, anxiety, power) is the beginning of men's demise. Wealth often robs us of our sense of dependency of God, giving us a false sense of well-being and security, which is a poison to the soul. It is prudent to follow King Solomon's prayer in Proverbs 30:9 that says

...give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, 'who is the Lord?' or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God."

3. Judas had remorse, Peter had repentance

Both Judas and Peter are the disciples of Jesus, and both have made mistakes: Judas betrayed Jesus and Peter denied Jesus three times the night before he was crucified. However, their life ends differently: Judas hanged himself, whereas Peter emerged one of the apostles that champions the Christian faith. What make the big difference? Judas had remorse, but Peter had repentance.

Remorse means that we feel bad and grieve the consequences, but we don't hate our sin and we don't bring it in front of God. In the end, remorse will only lead to discouragement, despair, and depression.This depression leads to suicide in the case of Judas. He felt remorseful and tried to return the money to the chief priest, but nothing can be done to mend his mistake.

Judas had remorse, which lead him to more sin - suicide. On the other hand, Peter repented and sought the Lord, and he was restored. What matters to God is not how many times we make mistake, but how many times we are willing to repent. King David made a grave mistake by committing adultery, murdering Uriah, and taking his wife, but he repented when he is rebuked by Nathan.

Why do we have to keep confessing? If we offend our friend, avoiding the problem won't fix it. Confession lead to reconciliation, whereas ignorance will lead to alienation. There is a difference between godly sorrow and worldly sorrow (2 Corinthians 7:10). Godly sorrow will lead to repentance: it's a change of mind followed by a change of conduct.


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