Summary: Only after his betrayal did Judas feel that he had played the fool. And then he considered that the only appropriate response was to end his life in suicide.
Title: The Face of Folly: Judas
Text: “The Son of Man indeed goes just as it is written of Him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been good for that man if he had not been born” (Matthew 26:24).
Scripture Reading: Matthew 26:14-16, 47-50; 27:3-10
Judas played the part of a fool. When he placed the kiss of betrayal on the face of the Lord Jesus, he acted as a fool. This is the opinion of history.
The writer known as Dante pictured Judas in the very bottom of hell. He pictured him as isolated from all other sinners and gripped by the most horrible torment.
Jesus said, “THE SON OF MAN INDEED GOES JUST AS IT IS WRITTEN OF HIM, BUT WOE TO THAT MAN BY WHOM THE SON OF MAN IS BETRAYED! IT WOULD HAVE BEEN GOOD FOR THAT MAN IF HE HAD NOT BEEN BORN” (Matthew 26:24).
Only after his betrayal did Judas feel that he had played the fool. And then he considered that the only appropriate response was to end his life in suicide.
Let me ask you a question, “What was so terrible about Judas’s crime?” Actually, his crime is different only in degree from the crimes that many people commit. It is a matter of rejecting the claims of Christ and handing Him over to His enemies.
Let’s consider this face of folly beneath the cross.
First, the decision that Judas made to betray Jesus was the decision of a fool.
We must go to the beginning to understand Judas’s decision. Judas was the only one of the twelve from Judea. He was the only southerner in the group. Apparently he joined the company of Jesus with burning hopes for a glorious and powerful earthly kingdom. While some of the others were able to move from this kind of hope to an acceptance of Jesus as a different kind of Messiah, Judas could never make that change.
He was first drawn to Jesus, as others were, by the preaching of John the Baptist, or by his own hopes that He was the Messiah, or by the teaching of Jesus—for He taught as no one ever taught before.
The apostle John wrote that Jesus knew that Judas would betray Him from the beginning. He wrote, “BUT THERE ARE SOME OF YOU THAT BELIEVE NOT. FOR JESUS KNEW FROM THE BEGINNING WHO THEY WERE THAT BELIEVED NOT, AND WHO SHOULD BETRAY HIM.
The evil which led Judas to commit treason grew gradually. The rules of poverty which Jesus had given His disciples early in His ministry, no doubt sheltered him from the temptation that would have been so very dangerous to him. In the eighth chapter of Luke, life may have improved for Jesus and His disciples for we read, “AND JOANNA THE WIFE OF CHUZA HEROD’S STEWARD, AND SUSANNA, AND MANY OTHERS, WHICH MINISTERED UNTO HIM OF THEIR SUBSTANCE.” They were still poor, even by the standards of that time, and Jesus would tell one young man that the foxes have their dens, but He didn’t even have a place to sleep.
But better times brought temptation with it. The Twelve became recognized as a body, and as they traveled from place to place with their Master they received money and other offerings, which they redistributed to the poor. It became necessary for someone to be responsible for the collections, and that job fell to Judas. Larger sums of money in the hands of this man led to covetousness, unfaithfulness and embezzlement.
Why was such a man chosen to be one of the twelve? I believe that it was part of God’s plan. Perhaps to teach the Church that God can bless and the gospel can succeed even though some bad men may creep into the fold.
Judas made the final decision at the dinner meeting at which Mary broke the alabaster box and anointed Jesus’ feet. It was just too much for Judas. He spoke up to rebuke her gesture as being a waste. But Jesus hastened to Mary’s defense. Nothing given in love to Jesus is ever wasted. Judas was the one who ended up wasting his life! Up to this time Judas had been the keeper of the funds for the Twelve, and John tells us that he had been stealing from them. Out of this experience Judas went to the enemies of Jesus and offered to deliver Him to them for a reward. He agreed with the priests to do it for thirty pieces of silver.
I want to ask another question, “What was Judas’s motive in betraying Christ?” There are several explanations which have been proposed.
First, it may come from his anger at the public rebuke given him by Christ at the supper in the house of Simon the leper.