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Judas Iscariot - What Made Him Betray Jesus?
Some views on the topic - Why did Judas betray Jesus?
The man Judas Iscariot is forever known for his betrayal of the Lord Jesus Christ. His name is synonymous with betrayal as he was the ultimate traitor. There are other names associated with betrayal such as Brutus and Benedict Arnold but of all the names, Judas is the most well known.
What Do We Know About Judas?
We know that Judas was the son of Simon. He was a Judean, that is he was from Judah. He was the only disciple who came from that place. The rest came from Galilee. His name was quite common at that time being a form of the name Judah which means "Praise". Was it a coincidence then that he would be the one to betray the head of the tribe of Judah? The true One who was and is to be praised? In every gospel Judas' betrayal is spoken of before it happens. Each writer - Matthew, Mark, Luke and John - all give the reader a forewarning of events to come when he is introduced.
In Matthew Chapter 10, we first meet him and he is introduced as "Judas Iscariot who also betrayed Him." In Mark Chapter 3 it is said of him, "And Judas Iscariot which also betrayed Him.". In Luke Chapter 6 we see Judas introduced as "Judas Iscariot which also was the traitor." And finally in John Chapter 6 it is said of him, "He spake of Judas Iscariot the son of Simon: for he it was that should betray him, being one of the twelve." This was the first time in each Gospel that Judas was spoken of yet in the same breath his betrayal was spoken of as well. It is almost as though his betrayal was so great that it soiled even the things he had done in the past and went upon every good thing he ever did before. He became known as a traitor in his past, present and future. It was a spot that would never be rid of.
Judas was chosen by Jesus to be one of the twelve disciples. This in and of itself was a great thing, as the Bible says He had some seventy followers, and from them he chose twelve. He knew that Judas was His betrayer even before Judas himself knew what he would do, yet He chose to have him close to Him. Perhaps it was as the saying goes - "Keep your friends close and your enemies closer" - whatever the reason, Judas Iscariot was a part of Jesus Christ's closest friends and so he was privy to all of the private teachings and instruction which He gave to the disciples. He was there for the miracles, the healing, the prayers, and the explaining of the Scriptures. He heard when Peter called Jesus "the Christ". He was there when the pharisees accused Jesus of having a devil and heard Christ say, "Can Satan cast out Satan?" (See Mark3) It was at that time as well that Jesus pointed out who His mother and brothers were. It was also possible that he saw Christ and Peter walk on water. His feet were even washed by Christ Himself! But he was not there for the Transfiguration nor the raising of Jairus' daughter. Even among the twelve Jesus had selected a few to draw even nearer to Him, Judas was not one of them.
We also know that Judas was the treasurer. That is he had the job of bringing to order whatever money the disciples and Christ had. He would then be in charge of deciding where that money would go. It is interesting to note that he had charge of this because besides Judas having the reputation of being a thief, Matthew, who was a tax collector, would have known the ins and outs of accounting yet was not chosen for this task.
Another thing that we do know about Judas was that he did not act alone. In Luke Chapter 22, the Bible states that Satan entered into Judas and that was when he went to betray Him.
What was Judas Thinking?
Have you ever heard people talk about the Garden of Eden and the Fall of Man? Have you ever heard someone say that if they were there in place of Adam and Eve, man would never have fallen? Well what about Judas? If you were in place of Judas, would you have betrayed Christ? If you said a definite no, then there is just one person you must remember who said no as well and that was Peter. It would appear that our own actions are unclear to us until the time of the incident. Life, it would appear, has a series of tests which we either pass or fail.
The time for Judas to be tested was Passover and we all know that he failed. But did he ever have a chance? And if not, then why was he to blame bearing for centuries this burden of the name Betrayer?
At this time it would seem that money was on the mind of Judas Iscariot. He betrayed Jesus for thirty pieces of silver. What did he want the money for? Was it for something important or was it because he was greedy? Was the money really the closer of the deal or did he thirst to turn Jesus over to His accusers?
When Judas did receive the money after he pointed Jesus out to the soldiers by kissing Him, he regretted what he did and returned the money to the Pharisees. He felt so guilty that he hanged himself after, committing suicide as he was unable to forgive himself.
Even though Judas was under the influence of Satan, he gave himself over to him. The Bible states that if we resist the devil he will flee. This is demonstrated in the Bible when the devil tempted Jesus for forty days and nights. When Jesus resisted him, he did indeed flee.
As Judas was tempted of the devil so was Peter. And just like Judas, he was bitterly sorry for what he did afterward. He repented and was forgiven but why wasn't Judas? Jesus told Peter what he would do and He also told him that He would pray for him. He never told Judas any such thing.
The only conclusion I can come to as to why Peter was counseled and guided by the Lord and Judas was not has to do with the heart. God looks upon the heart and sees the state of it. The Bible clearly states that the while the soul is willing the flesh is weak. There are among us men who have hearts after God. Who would truly love to serve Him with all their heart, mind,and strength but while they are willing sin lies in wait. Peter was one such man. Judas was not. The Bible speaks of the betrayal as being allotted to Judas. It was something reserved for him to do. Perhaps this is because the Lord knew Judas' heart before Judas even knew it.
A familiar thing happened in the book of Kings when the prophet Elisha told Hazael that he would become king. He then cried over him because he saw all of the evil that this king would do. He saw that he would not fight for the Lord but nevertheless it was what it was. (2 Kings 8) Hazael became King after that but only because he smothered the then king to death with a towel. He came up with the idea all on his own, taking matters into his own hands to bring about certain events just as Shakespeare's Macbeth.
In Hazael's mind dwelt greed and a thirst for power. Judas's mind is still murky. For certain, money was on his mind at that time but whatever else, feelings of hurt perhaps, or jealousy, are just out of reach.
What made Judas betray Jesus?
It was a combination of two things. The devil - as the Bible plainly states that Satan entered him before he went to do the dirty deed and - and himself. Judas went along with the will of the devil to bring about the demise of Jesus Christ. If the devil was acting on his own then Judas would have never hanged himself. He would not have been to blame. But Satan is crafty and does not do things all the way. He loves company in sin and so while he does some of the job it is up to us to finish it. The temptation comes our way and like a riding a bike without training wheels, before we know it, we are off and no one is behind us holding our seats! So it is with sin. So it was with Judas' transgression. He pedaled, that is betrayed, and afterward realized what a wretch he was.
Even though Jesus had to be betrayed, Judas' heart is what made Christ so certain it would be he. Who better to know our hearts than the one who created them? Who better to see inside our soul and know what we could or couldn't do?
God's grace is what prevents many a thing from happening. It is what keeps us from doing many an evil thing. When it is taken away for a certain period of time, that is when we are tested. As in the case of Job. When all of the things God had provided for Job was taken away, he then clung to the Lord and would not deny Him. It is like a parent who, after years of being with a child every waking moment, protecting, nurturing and cherishing it, leaving the room for a minute in order to peep and see just what the child will do. Some children immediately go in search for their parent and cry when they cannot be found. What happens then? The parent rushes in to comfort and let the child know that they are but a stone's throw away. But other children look around to ensure that the parent is out of sight and head straight for the glass vase which they were told never to touch. What does it all mean? Some people's desire for God can overcome their temptations while others, can't. When God's grace was lifted from Judas, his world came crashing down for his heart was not set on the Lord but on himself. He, like the child, wanted to do something on his own and for a moment be free of the parental constraints of a loving God. One thing is certain - the need to do what he did was so great within him that he could not deny it, rather he denied God instead.