Summary: Judas-probably the most notorious figure in history. But before we claim to be nothing like him I would say, “Hold on; not so fast.” We may not be a Judas but I do think we have the capability to develop some of his characteristics if we're not careful.
We might look at the bad things people did in scripture-like Cain killing his brother Able or David committing adultery with Bathsheba or Peter denying he knew Jesus and think to ourselves, “I would never do such a thing”. This definitely holds true when it comes to what Judas did. Judas-the one who betrayed Jesus. He’s probably the most notorious figure in history. But before us good Christians claim to be nothing like him I would say, “Hold on; not so fast.” I’m not saying I think we have some Judas’ among us but I do think we have the capability to develop some of his characteristics if we’re not careful.
1) Why did Judas betray Jesus?
• Was it unmet expectations? It’s possible that before Judas became a disciple of Jesus he was focused on liberating his people from Roman oppression. Some believe his surname, Iscariot, comes from the Latin word Scarius which means he who carries the dagger. The dagger was a common weapon used by the Zealots, a politically motivated group committed to the restoration of Israel through the overthrow of the roman oppressors.
This may have been the motivation for Judas to sell Jesus out. He, like others, thought that Jesus was the Messiah who was going to deliver Israel in militaristic fashion. So when it became clear that this expectation wasn’t going to be fulfilled he either turned on Jesus in disgust or in hopes that when backed into a corner Jesus would come out swinging and Judas’ desires for a Jewish revolt would come to fruition.
If any of this is true it highlights that Judas had an expectation of Jesus and when he realized it wasn’t going to be met he took matters into his own hands. We know how that turned out for him. When Jesus doesn’t meet your expectations do we take matters into your own hands? How is that working’ for you? Having unmet or unrealistic expectations of Jesus will eventually lead to us betraying Jesus. I suggest that if you don’t want to be like Judas, when Jesus doesn’t meet your expectations you change your expectations to meet Jesus’.
• Was it greed? John 12:1-8. Judas had a problem with Mary’s devotion because he realized he would miss out on an opportunity to steal some money. Judas had a greedy heart. It was right after this incident that we find Judas making the deal to hand him over.
Matt. 26:14-16. We see here the downward progression. He must have been trusted at some point to be appointed treasurer. It started as giving into the temptation to skim from the offering bag and it probably increased as time went on. Now the greed has escalated to selling Jesus out to the people who wanted to kill them. Judas scorned Mary’s pricy devotion but then turned around and was willing to betray Jesus for 30 pieces of silver; the price paid for a slave. That’s the value Jesus held in Judas’ eyes. That’s what greed produces-money and things become more valuable than people. Contrast that with the value of the expensive perfume and we see that devotion is costly and betrayal is cheap. Yet, in my costly devotion I find the greatest reward whereas in my cheap betrayal it costs me my life.
But aside from the missed opportunity to steal some more money, there could’ve been another reason Judas was upset? Was it jealousy? Was there a twinge of guilt knowing his heart did not possess the level of love and devotion he had just witnessed? When we find ourselves criticizing other people’s devotion is it because we lack it? The spiritually minded person would’ve seen what this woman did as a wonderful act of love and devotion but the unspiritual person would only see it from a practical standpoint and thus see it as a huge waste. It happens today. Spiritually minded people are generous toward the work of the Lord but unspiritual people see things like tithing and giving to the needy as foolish. Judas tried to paint her good deed in an evil light all the while painting his evil intentions in a good light.
Jesus wouldn’t let him get away with it (Mt. 26:10-13). Was Judas indignant towards Jesus for putting him in his place with a firm rebuke? A.T. Robertson in Harmony of the Gospels suggests this possibility: “Judas, stung by the rebuke of Jesus at the feast, bargains with the rulers to betray Jesus.” Greed, jealousy and pride will move us away from Jesus. We need to be aware that if we don’t turn things around these things will lead us toward betrayal.
2) Exposing the betrayer. At the Last Supper, Jesus revealed that one of his disciples would betray him. Matt. 26:20-25. Vs. 23- In the ancient Middle East, the host of the banquet customarily took a piece of bread, dipped it and handed it to the guest of honor. Some suggest that Jesus did this as a last gesture of love toward Judas. Perhaps it was his last effort to try to get Judas to recant his evil intentions. Earlier, Jesus had displayed another act of love toward Judas-he washed his feet. What was going through Judas’ mind as he watched Jesus perform this lowly task? What emotions were there in the heart of Judas as their eyes met? When we’re not in the right mindset Jesus shows his love to us in hopes that it will change pour heart.