Judas: Apostle of Christ to Son of Perdition
Who would ever think of naming their son “Judas”? However, this name was once considered very honorable among the Jews. Even in the first century, two of Jesus’ disciples bore such a name. “Judas” is the Greek form of the name “Judah”. Judah is the very tribe through which the Messiah came. The name means “praise”. Judas Maccabaeus became a great hero of the Jews in the post-Old Testament and pre-New Testament era. He led the rebellion to free the Jews from the oppression of Greek rulers. The name was a good name until Judas Iscariot became the Benedict Arnold of the Bible by betraying Jesus for a mere thirty pieces of silver. This is why you have never heard of a man named Judas.
Judas did not become an apostle of Jesus by accident or by his own design. Jesus personally handpicked him along with the other eleven (Mk. 3:14-19a). Like the others, Judas had been a disciple of Jesus before he was chosen for the apostleship. Apostles are those who are sent out on behalf of another. Like an ambassador who is selected by the President to represent his interest to a foreign nation. So, the apostles were sent out into the world to represent the will of the King concerning His coming Kingdom. Like the rest of the twelve, Judas was given supernatural and miraculous powers (Mt. 10:8). He watched Jesus perform miracles and teach for three and a half years just like Peter, Andrew, and Matthew. It is interesting that in all the list of the apostles, Judas is uniformly listed last. Matthew’s list states “…and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed Him” (Matt 10:4). Like the others, Judas could have been one of the foundation stones (Eph. 2:20). But Judas, one of the chosen, chose a different path.
We do not know what Judas’ background and skills were. Yet Judas was trusted with carrying and safeguarding the “bag”(Jn. 12:6). In Luke 8:3 we learn that some women contributed to the support of Christ and His disciples. One might think a better choice would have been Matthew. But no one but Jesus seems to have trusted any publican in the first century. Perhaps Judas had designs on becoming the “Secretary of the Treasury” in Christ’s coming Kingdom. A perfect position for a greedy man seeking material wealth through grift.
■ Lover of Money
When Jesus came to Bethany, Mary took and anointed Jesus with some very expensive oil. Judas rebuked Jesus for allowing this waste. “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. 12:4-6). His concern for the poor was a hypocritical ploy. As a thief, he was not going to use any money for the needs of others (Jn. 6:71; 12;5-6; 13:10;18-25). It is true that three hundred denarii was a great deal of money. To put it into perspective one denarius was equivalent to a day laborer’s daily wage. This oil was worth about a year’s earnings for an average person of the day.
Judas should have paid more attention to all of Jesus’ warnings about covetousness and the love of money. The cares and riches of the world was choking the very spiritual life out of Judas.
It was after Jesus’ counter rebuke to Judas about Mary’s anointing of Him that Judas went out to betray Jesus. “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. 26:14-16). The word “betray” means “to deliver up.” By over valuing money, Judas undervalued His Savior. Instead of going to Jesus with his problem of greed, he sought out the chief priests. These were longtime enemies of his Master.
For his betrayal Judas received a reward. Thirty pieces of silver to betray innocent blood (Mt. 27:4). The Law of Moses warns, “Cursed is the one who takes a bribe to slay an innocent person” (Dt. 27:25).
Afterward Judas went to the Passover meal as if all was normal. Later that night he would lead a parade of men to betray Jesus.
Apparently Judas still had a conscience, for later he had regrets when he saw what was to become of Jesus. “Then Judas, His betrayer, seeing that He had been condemned, was remorseful and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, saying, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.” And they said, “What is that to us? You see to it!” Then he threw down the pieces of silver in the temple and departed, and went and hanged himself” (Mt. 27:3-5).
Judas came to the realization that he had sold himself for a mere thirty pieces of silver. This was not what Jesus was worth, but the value he placed upon his relationship with Christ. At the time, this amount of money was equivalent to about four months of wages. In the Law of Moses, it was the price paid for a slave who had been gored by an ox (Ex. 21:32).
Judas gave the money back to the priests, but this was not enough to undo his betrayal or spare his Lord. It was enough money to buy a burial field for strangers (Mt. 27:3-10). Nor was this enough money to warrant any concern by the priests for Judas’ soul.
The guilt of receiving blood money was too much for Judas to endure. Money did not bring him fame or pleasure, only pain. Giving back the money would not clear his conscience and it did not represent true repentance from the heart. He could have repented. He could have returned to Jesus. This was not a repentance unto salvation (2 Cor. 7:9,10). Thirty pieces of silver could not obtain for Judas what Jesus’ forgiveness gave to Peter. So, Judas went out and found a way to end the pain of his regrets by hanging himself.
If guilt could be removed from the soul by suicide, then all men would be so tempted. Judas’ solution to his regretful betrayal was that “he threw down the pieces of silver in the temple and departed, and went and hanged himself” (Matt 27:5). Luke explains with additional details: Now this man purchased a field with the wages of iniquity; and falling headlong, he burst open in the middle and all his entrails gushed out” (Acts 1:18). First, he hung himself. After a couple of days under the hot Judean sun, the rope or branch broke and when his bloated body hit the ground it burst open.
Suicide is the coward’s way of dealing with problems. It is an act of self-murder. A permanent solution to a temporary problem.
Who is who in Hell? Luke tells of Judas’ eternal destiny, he went “to his own place” (Ac. 1:16,17; 22). Jesus had promised the twelve: “I go to prepare a place for you” (Jn. 14:1-3). Jesus died and ascended to heaven to prepare a place there for them. Judas hung himself to prepare a place for himself. He laid up treasure in hell by coveting the thirty pieces of silver.
■ Son of Perdition
On the night Jesus was to be betrayed by Judas, He referred to Judas as a “son of perdition” in His lengthy intercessory prayer. Jesus prayed to God: “While I was with them in the world, I kept them in Your name. those whom You gave Me I have kept; and none of them is lost except the son of perdition, that the Scripture might be fulfilled” (John 17:12). The Greek term for “perdition” means “waste.”
Why did Judas betray Jesus? Well, it was for greed. But he was overcome with the temptation of covetousness by the Devil. “And supper being ended, the devil having already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray Him” (Jn. 13:2).
Earlier in His ministry Jesus asked His disciples, “did I not choose you, the twelve, and one of you is a devil?” (John 6:70). Was Judas a devil or demon? Judas could cast out devils (Mt. 10:1-15) and Jesus said in Matthew 12:22-28 that Satan does not cast out Satan. So, the answer has to be “NO.” In another Gospel it is said that “Satan entered his heart” (Lk. 22:3). Judas allowed Satan to “enter into him”
(Jn. 13:3,27). Satan merely rang Judas’ doorbell. But it was Judas who answered the door and excited the Devil a warm welcome into his heart. When Ananias and his wife lied about the contribution they were giving for needy saints, Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and keep back part of the price of the land for yourself?” (Ac. 5:2). The same thing can happen to us today. Notice that Peter said they always had a choice to do the right thing. But when they refused to repent, God struck them dead (Acts 5:3-11).
Judas was indeed part of the apostleship of Jesus. Luke explains, “to take part in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place” (Ac. 1:25). You cannot fall from something you do not have. Notice John says, “Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who would betray Him” (John 6:64). John did not say that Judas was a devil from the beginning. Jesus knew he would fall for temptation, just as Jesus knew Peter would deny Him.
The story is told that when Leonardo Da Vinci was painting his masterpiece “The Last Supper” he sought long for a model for his Christ. At last, he located a man in one of the churches of Rome who was lovely in life and features, a young man named Pietro Bandinelli. Years passed, and the painting was still unfinished. all the disciples had been portrayed save one – Judas Iscariot. Now he started to find a man whose face was hardened and distorted by sin and at last he found a beggar on the streets of Rome with a face so villainous he shuddered when he looked at him. He hired the man to sit for him as he painted the face of Judas on his canvas. When he was about to dismiss the man, he said, “I have not yet found out your name.” “I am Pietro Bandinnelli,” he replied, “I also sat for you as your model of Christ.”
It can be a very short distance between the high calling to be an apostle of Jesus and a betrayer for the devil. Judas fell because He made the wrong choices.
– Daniel R. Vess