These are the names of the twelve disciples: first, Simon (who is called Peter) and his brother Andrew; James son of Zebedee, and his brother John; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him. (Plus his replacement Matthias)
What motivates you? Is it the same thing that motivated Judas Iscariot? What motivated Judas Iscariot you may well ask? The answer is, of course, MONEY, MONEY, MONEY. We can read in Matthews account the following, ‘Then Judas Iscariot went to the chief priests and asked, “What are you willing to give me if I hand Jesus of Nazareth over to you?” So they counted out for him thirty silver coins. From then on Judas watched for an opportunity to hand him over.’ Matthew 26:14-15
There are about nine men called Judas in the writings of Old Testament times and later, but Judas Iscariot is generally mentioned as ‘Judas Iscariot’ or as ‘Judas who betrayed Him’ or as ‘Judas, Simon’s son’. John writes, ‘The evening meal was being served, and the devil had already prompted Judas Iscariot, son of Simon, to betray Jesus.’ John 13:2 Others who were named Judas were sometimes referred to as ‘not Iscariot’. Again we can read in John that, ‘Judas (not Judas Iscariot) said, “But, Lord, why do you intend to show yourself to us and not to the world?”’ John 14:22 In the lists of the Disciples, Judas is always mentioned last.
All four Gospels bring to our attention the traitorous way Jesus was betrayed by Judas. John’s Gospel gives, in my opinion, the more detailed view. For instance, when did Judas decide to betray Jesus? Why did the disciples not know that it was Judas that was going to betray Jesus? After all, they were all sitting around the table when Jesus told them what was going to happen.
John says, ‘After he had said this, Jesus was troubled in spirit and testified, “I tell you the truth, one of you is going to betray me.”’ His disciples stared at one another, at a loss to know which of them he meant. One of them, the disciple whom Jesus loved (John), was reclining next to him. Simon Peter motioned to John and said, “Ask him which one he means.” Leaning back against Jesus, he asked him, “Lord, who is it?” Jesus answered, “It is the one to whom I will give this piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish.” Then, dipping the piece of bread, he gave it to Judas Iscariot, son of Simon. As soon as Judas took the bread, Satan entered into him. “What you are about to do, do quickly,” Jesus told him, but no one at the meal understood why Jesus said this to him. Since Judas had charge of the money, some thought Jesus was telling him to buy what was needed for the Feast, or to give something to the poor. As soon as Judas had taken the bread, he went out. And it was night.’ John 13:21-30
Satan had entered Judas prior to the Last Supper, but again, at the Last Supper Satan entered Judas. As Judas shared around that table, during a meal together with his friends and with Jesus, evil was permeating through the very soul of Judas. Betrayal was at hand. Jesus washed the feet of Judas that evening, full in the knowledge that the evil Satan was there at that time, and that his death on the cross was imminent.
Reading through the Gospels, it is possible to see the resentment building up in Judas. Jesus had to rebuke Judas on one occasion. John 12:3-8 It is this passage that reveals that Judas is already a thief, and is already cooking the books.
Some think that Judas thought that Jesus would not be tried or even put to death, but as the trial proceeded and the situation developed to scourging and the eventual crucifixion of Jesus, Judas wanted out. He was seized with remorse, and said, “I have sinned, for I have betrayed innocent blood.” He took the money back to the chief priests only to be rebuffed with the words, “What is that to us?” they replied. “That’s your responsibility.” So Judas threw the money into the temple and left. Then he went away and hanged himself. Matthew 27:3-5
In Acts we can read of the apostles praying as they chose a replacement for Judas, thus, “Lord, you know everyone’s heart. Show us which of these two you have chosen to take over this apostolic ministry, which Judas left to go where he belongs.”
Judas was dead, but Jesus was alive. All the scheming of Judas, the chief priests, the Scribes and Pharisees and the rest of the Jews was to no avail. God’s plan had proceeded exactly as God’s plans always do.
The apostles believed; Judas did not believe and that is as God planned. In John 3:16-18 we read, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.”
The final question remains, do you believe or not?