Summary: A short intro to the person of Judas.
The arrest of Jesus John 18: 1-11
Last week we finished a bit early, and there were a few things that I wanted to see here. Now, when we hear the name Judas today it’s synonymous with Hitler, Dracula or some perverted mass murderer. It’s like it’s the epitome of everything wicked we can think of. There are people who have hateful guard dogs they call Judas and the reason they use that name is because no one is safe around them.
And the odd thing is, Judas was such a common name in Biblical times. It comes from the root Judah who was one the twelve sons of Jacob. Jacob’s blessing of Judah in Genesis 49 includes a passage that is traditionally understood by Christians to mean that Judah’s descendants would rule over the land of Israel, culminating with Jesus. In Revelation 7:7, Judah is at the top of the list of the tribes receiving the Seal of God for 12,000 of its members. The name Judah means "to praise." So, to be named Judah or even Judas was a name that had historical roots and prophetic implications.
There are actually three men named Judas mentioned in the New Testament. There was the author of the book of Jude, (And Jude was short for Judas and he was also the half-brother of Jesus) then there was the disciple named Thomas whose proper name was Judas Thomas Didymus and then there was Judas Iscariot. And the reason people used their second name or even an abbreviation of the first was to eliminate the hassle of having three people respond every time you called a name.
I remember we were having a family get together at my father in laws home when he lived in Port Franks, Ontario and there were four of us in the family who were pastors. There was him, his brother Stan who was also a pastor, my brother-in-law Joe and myself. The phone rang and someone yelled from the kitchen and said, “It’s for the pastor.” Well, all four of us got up to answer it. You see, there’s a bit of confusion when several people go by the same title. Or when Sally’s sister Susan had a baby girl she called her Lori which is also the name of Susan’s other sister. So, whenever they got together, there was big Lori and little Lori. And now little Lori is married and doesn’t want to be called little Lori anymore so we have problem again with the names. And you can imagine the hassle when all three of these disciples who named Judas were together day and night for over three years.
And the strange thing about Judas Iscariot is that none of the other disciples ever seemed to imagine that he was the one who would betray Jesus. And yet, if you look at all the paintings that are supposed to portray Judas, you would have to be an idiot not to know which one he was because Judas always looks like the sleaziest, most evil person you had ever met. Probably, the most famous one is DaVinci’s portrayal of the Last Supper where you see him sitting at the table clutching onto the money bag and in front of him is the little communion cup that’s been knocked over. If there was any truth at all to this picture, you’d have to wonder why none of the other disciples noticed him?