No one knew the dastardly deed this man would commit
By Don Ruhl
How would you like to be the “familiar friend” mentioned in Psalm 41:9? David prophesied of the ultimate dastardly deed that a close friend would commit against his best friend. “Even my own familiar friend in whom I trusted, who ate my bread, has lifted up his heel against me” (Ps. 41:9). Can you hear the shock and extreme disappointment in the voice of the One for whom David spoke?
When a friend turns on you, he tears your heart apart. You do not believe it truly happened. You do not know why one so close to your heart would lift his heel against you as if to kick you. Betrayal does that to the heart.
David prophesied of Judas. Look at the first line. Jesus considered Judas a familiar friend. In Judas Jesus trusted! Jesus was in a close setting with Judas, sharing bread with him, showing oneness with Judas. Yet, Judas betrayed Jesus!
Who wants to name his son, Judas? It has been a long time since Judas betrayed Jesus, yet, the name still causes revulsion. He who would name his son Judas hates his son. No one squandered a greater opportunity than this man.
Mark 14 records the words of the meek and lowly Jesus, speaking harshly of what Judas would do. What would a person have to do to get Jesus to say the following? “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 never been born” (Mk. 14:21).
Yet, as Jesus indicated, the prophecy spoke of Judas. Jesus knew ahead of time, what Judas would do. Why then did Jesus choose Judas? We do not understand the workings of God, but He knows precisely what He does. Do we trust Him to carry out His plan with accuracy?
If you were to start a worldwide campaign, who would you choose? Would you choose fisher-men, a tax collector, a political rebel, and a devil? Jesus called Judas a devil. Yet, the Lord used Judas and even washed his feet! It baffles us, because we try to fit the workings of God into the way we work, but we need to fit our workings into the way God works.
The Sham of Judas
Think on this: Jesus called Judas to be an apostle! When you read in the Gospel accounts that the apostles or the disciples did something, the narrator included Judas. Mark 6 shows Jesus sending the twelve out to preach and to do miraculous works. You may picture Peter, James, and John doing these things, but now see Judas. At this point, do not see him as the betrayer. See him as the other disciples saw him, a holy man of God doing good things. Notice also what Judas preached, “And He called the twelve to Himself, and began to send them out two by two, and gave them power over unclean spirits. He commanded them to take nothing for the journey except a staff—no bag, no bread, no copper in their money belts—but to wear sandals, and not to put on two tunics. Also He said to them, ‘In whatever place you enter a house, stay there till you depart from that place. And whoever will not receive you nor hear you, when you depart from there, shake off the dust under your feet as a testimony against them. Assuredly, I say to you, it will be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that city!’ So they went out and preached that people should repent. And they cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many who were sick, and healed them” (Mk. 6:7–13).
In Acts 1, after Judas betrayed Jesus and killed himself, Peter said that they had to replace Judas, that there might be twelve apostles. Notice what Peter said about Judas, “Men and brethren, this Scripture [Ps. 41:9, DR] had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit spoke before by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus; for he was numbered with us and obtained a part in this ministry” (Ac. 1:16, 17).
Did you hear the words of verse 17? Judas was numbered with the other apostles. He obtained a part in the ministry of the apostles. Judas was a useful man, but in the end he was not a good man. Do not confuse usefulness with goodness. He was an active man, but in the end he was not a spiritual man. Do not confuse activity with spirituality.
Mark 14 shows that Judas fooled everyone, except the Lord. We can place him in the World Book of Records, as the world’s most successful hypocrite. Here is why. When Jesus prophesied of His betrayal at His last supper with the apostles, none of them questioned whether it was Judas. No one suspected he could be the betrayer. He had not shown himself to be that kind of person. They all wondered about themselves, “In the evening He came with the twelve. Now as they sat and ate, Jesus said, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, one of you who eats with Me will betray Me.’ And they began to be sorrowful, and to say to Him one by one, ‘Is it I?’ And another said, ‘Is it I?’ He answered and said to them, ‘It is one of the twelve, who dips with Me in the dish’” (Mk. 14:17–20).
They all could have looked at the others and thought that there was no way one of them could betray their Friend. Each looked inwardly, knowing his own sinfulness, but no one hinted at Judas as the one.
Another disciple did something terrible the same night that Judas betrayed Jesus. That other disciple denied Jesus three times after having boasted that he would never do such a thing. When Judas realized what he had done, he was devastated. He could not handle the immense guilt. Nor did he think of the possibility of forgiveness through the grace of Jesus. When Peter realized what he had done, he was devastated. The guilt crushed his spirit, breaking the man down into a crying heap of a disciple. However, he could handle grace. He wanted forgiveness. He received it. Judas never received it.
According to Luke 22, Satan wanted Peter. No doubt, Satan wanted Judas also. However, Peter was the leader among the disciples. Yet, Satan lost in the battle over Peter, but Satan won in the battle over Judas. In the battle over our souls, shall Satan or Jesus win?
The Sadness of Judas
John 12 shows that in the end, and perhaps during the process, Judas was only interested in Judas. Yes, the man did good things. He also pretended to do good things as a coverup to do evil things, “Then Mary took a pound of very costly oil of spikenard, anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped His feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the oil. But one of His disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, who would betray Him, said, ‘Why was this fragrant oil not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?’ This he said, not that he cared for the poor, but because he was a thief, and had the money box; and he used to take what was put in it” (Jn. 12:3–6). It sounded as though stealing from the money box was common for Judas.
Luke 22 shows more of the sad story of Judas. Judas did what he wanted to do. No one forced him. The prophecy of a betrayer did not force Judas. Satan did not overpower Judas. He loved money and that is why he stole from the gifts people gave. Therefore, when he saw an opportunity to make money from Jesus, Judas went after it, “Now the Feast of Unleavened Bread drew near, which is called Passover. And the chief priests and the scribes sought how they might kill Him, for they feared the people. Then Satan entered Judas, surnamed Iscariot, who was numbered among the twelve. So he went his way and conferred with the chief priests and captains, how he might betray Him to them. And they were glad, and agreed to give him money. So he promised and sought opportunity to betray Him to them in the absence of the multitude” (Lk. 22:1–6).
The really sad part about both of these last two passages is that Judas was a highly privileged man! What would you give to have been able to be with Jesus almost everyday, if not everyday, for three and a half years? Judas was with Jesus! Jesus was with Judas! Judas heard Jesus. Judas saw Jesus. Judas touched Jesus. How much did it help Judas? He seemed not to learn a thing. We have not heard, seen, or touched Jesus, but if we continue with Him, we shall be where Peter and the other apostles are, in the very presence of Jesus to hear Him, to see Him, and to touch Him.
Let us learn from Jesus spending time with Judas. We want people presented to us in the church like the store presents meat to us. We buy packaged meat ready for our enjoyment. We do not have to raise the cattle. We do not have to care for it daily. We do not have to walk in the field and step in manure. We do not smell the animal’s breath. We do not butcher the cattle. We do not deal with the blood and the guts. We do not handle the butchered animal parts. We do not walk around in the mess. We want people packaged and ready to enjoy. We do not want to have to deal with their problems. We do not want dirty sinners in our presence. We do not want to work with people. If we discover a problem, especially a major moral problem, we want a church leader to attack it right away, and if there is not an immediate change, we go after someone, especially leaders.
Just remember that Jesus worked with a dirty sinner like Judas. Jesus kept Judas around for three and a half years, although Jesus knew what Judas was doing and would do!
Another thing about the time Jesus spent with Judas. Jesus gave His all for Judas. Yet, he turned his back on the Lord. There have been people with whom I have spent endless hours, pouring my soul into making them better Christians, then they fell away! All invested, no return.
Parents do the same for their children, hoping they will remain faithful Christians. The children reject everything, leaving parents with a broken heart.
Let us remember Jesus working with Judas. Let us also remember that Jesus worked with the other eleven. Their work far outshone the work of Judas.
The Sinfulness of Judas
Judas traded the Son of God for 30 pieces of silver! Would it have been different if Judas traded the Creator for 30 million pieces of gold? No, but it is like the robber who kills a taxi cab driver for $30, versus the bank robber who gets $30,000. Both are still evil, but the $30-robber seems more foolish.
Judas betrayed the only innocent person who has ever lived, making Judas the father of all traitors. In spite of his past good, we have nothing good to say of him now.
Judas was a critic. He criticized the woman who anointed Jesus. Judas did not want money spent on Jesus or His people, but Judas wanted it for himself. Critics are selfish. Critics want things done their way, but they lack the ability to do it. Therefore, critics are faultfinders, not workers. Judas could only criticize a good work a woman did, but he did not propose another way of helping the needy, whom he claimed he wanted to help. Critics do not do what needs to be done, they just tell you, or tell on you, what you ought to do. Critics do the criticizing, no one criticizes them.
Matthew 26 shows this spirit in Judas. We know from John’s account that Judas was the critic. Then watch what Jesus said in response. Watch further and see how Judas responded, “And when Jesus was in Bethany at the house of Simon the leper, a woman came to Him having an alabaster flask of very costly fragrant oil, and she poured it on His head as He sat at the table. But when His disciples saw it, they were indignant, saying, ‘Why this waste? For this fragrant oil might have been sold for much and given to the poor.’ But when Jesus was aware of it, He said to them, ‘Why do you trouble the woman? For she has done a good work for Me. For you have the poor with you always, but Me you do not have always. For in pouring this fragrant oil on My body, she did it for My burial. Assuredly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be told as a memorial to her.’ Then one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, ‘What are you willing to give me if I deliver Him to you?’ And they counted out to him thirty pieces of silver. So from that time he sought opportunity to betray Him” (Mt. 26:6–16).
Critics like Judas would run things better, if they had the chance, they think, but if they cannot be allowed to be in charge, they will ruin it for everyone, especially making life difficult for those doing the good works.
Judas regretted what he did, yet he did not humble himself before Jesus, confess his sin, and beg for forgiveness. Critics cannot face their victims and admit wrong.
Jesus knew the heart, intentions, and works of Judas the whole time. Luke 22 shows Jesus revealing this very thing to Judas. Did Judas not hear what Jesus said? What did Jesus communicate to Judas with the following question? “Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?” (Lk. 22:48).
Jesus revealed that He knew what Judas did. Was Jesus also telling Judas not to do it? Judas had a chance to get away right to the end. In a similar way, Jesus continues to work with us. He never gives up on us. He stays with us to the moment, but He does not keep us from sinning. If we insist, He desists. Always be like Peter, who was broken–hearted, even falling at the feet of Jesus on one occasion. Jesus wants you, but you need Him.
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