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Introduction: And so we come to the last disciple. It is not really a surprise that he comes last because while all the others disciples are witnesses of and evidences for the fact that Jesus and His Gospel changes lives, this disciple is a warning that is very hard to miss - Judas Iscariot, the traitor. His name is listed in every listing of the apostles except for the one in Acts and every time he is mentioned in the narrative of the gospel accounts there is also a notation about the fact that he is a cowardly traitor. In all of human history, no one’s life screams failure as loudly as Judas Iscariot’s. His life is an example of the horrible, hate-filled acts that the human heart is capable of. He had the opportunity to spend time with the perfect, sinless, holy Son of God, and while the other disciples’ hearts were being softened, Judas’s only grew harder.
Judas was a commoner just like the other disciples. He began just like the other disciples began. The difference between Judas and the other disciples is that he never allowed the truth of what he saw and heard to transform his heart.

Judas’s Biography

Judas’s name means “Jehovah leads.” Judas’s parents were obviously hopeful that Judas would grow up to become a man that would be led by God. The ultimate irony of Judas’s life is that no one was ever more obviously led by Satan. His surname Iscariot simply refers to the region from which he was from. He was a man of Kerioth - Iscariot. Kerioth was a humble town in Judea. So Judas was apparently the only disciple that was not from Galilee. From what we know, the other disciples knew each other well before they followed Christ. Even if they all didn’t know everyone well every disciple was at least associated with the others in some way. Judas entered the group as an outsider. However, there is never any evidence or hint that he was ever excluded or looked down upon by the other disciples. Despite their acceptance of him, Judas probably considered himself an outsider, which would have helped him justify himself when it came time to betray Jesus.
The fact that the other disciples didn’t know much about Judas would have helped him play his role as the ultimate hypocrite. Judas was so skilled in his hypocrisy that he eventually worked himself into a place of trust as the treasurer of the group. Even when Jesus revealed to them that one of them would become a traitor no one thought to consider Judas.
John 12:26 NKJV
If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also. If anyone serves Me, him My Father will honor.
John 12:6 NKJV
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.

Judas’s Call

Judas’s call is not recorded for us in the Bible. It is clear though that he followed Jesus willingly. When he heard about Jesus and the miracles he was performing, he must have been convinced that this was the promised Messiah, and so he left whatever he was doing at the time in order to follow Jesus full-time. Even when most of Jesus’s followers stopped following Jesus in Judas endured.
Judas was probably young and hopeful. He did not want the Romans to rule and he hoped, like the other disciples, that Jesus would overthrow the Romans and establish a Jewish kingdom and rule as king. He could obviously see that Jesus had power unlike other men and so he followed Jesus and hoped for salvation, but the salvation he hoped for was not the type of salvation Jesus had come to bring. Hoping for political freedom, he positioned himself close to Jesus so that he could personally benefit. Judas was dominated by worldly thinking and his desire was not to know God, his desire was for money and power. He followed Jesus because he was interested in what he could get out of it.
Judas’s betrayal was also a fulfillment of prophecy.
Psalm 41:9 NKJV
Even my own familiar friend in whom I trusted, Who ate my bread, Has lifted up his heel against me.
Psalm 55:12–14 NKJV
For it is not an enemy who reproaches me; Then I could bear it. Nor is it one who hates me who has exalted himself against me; Then I could hide from him. But it was you, a man my equal, My companion and my acquaintance. We took sweet counsel together, And walked to the house of God in the throng.
Zechariah 11:12–13 NKJV
Then I said to them, “If it is agreeable to you, give me my wages; and if not, refrain.” So they weighed out for my wages thirty pieces of silver. And the Lord said to me, “Throw it to the potter”—that princely price they set on me. So I took the thirty pieces of silver and threw them into the house of the Lord for the potter.
So, part of Judas’s call was in order to fulfill the plan of God. Judas is totally responsible for his own actions, and God used Judas’s actions to weave the story of the gospel and to warn us all of the potential danger. The danger that it is possible to draw close to Christ superficially and still become hardened by sin.

Judas’s Growing Hatred

When Jesus first came on the scene, many believed that he was the promised Messiah, but their belief in Him was similar to Judas’s. They saw His power over the kingdom of Satan and they saw his ability to command the physical world. They heard Him speak in a way they had never heard anyone speak and they saw Him live in a way no one else lived. He had authority, confidence, and power, yet over time they began to see that Jesus was not going to fulfill their earthly ambitions. The other disciples slowly caught on. They began to embrace the far better teaching that Jesus had not come to deliver them from the Romans but to deliver them from the captivity of sin and the power of death.
Meanwhile, Judas began to realize the same truths. He began to realize that Jesus had not come to deliver from the Romans and begin an age of unprecedented wealth and prosperity. Judas had no interest in the spiritual aspect of the kingdom, and so he began to fill his heart with hatred towards Christ. Throughout the gospels there are hints of this growing hatred. As early as , Jesus refers to this growing hatred in Judas’s heart.
As the time of Jesus crucifixion drew closer, Judas’s hatred became complete. He had followed Jesus out of hopes of power and wealth, but now he reasons that he has been tricked and has wasted three years of his life. Three years of money making potential - and for what. His goal then became to position himself to at least get something out of his wasted time.
Finally, we come to . Just before Jesus’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem, Jesus and the disciples attend a meal at the home of Simon the leper (). Simon the leper is there along with Lazarus and Mary and Martha. Then the unthinkable happens.
John 12:2–3 NKJV
There they made Him a supper; and Martha served, but Lazarus was one of those who sat at the table with Him. 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.
Judas had made up his mind to position himself in such a way that he can at least profit financially, and now this. This is the last straw. Judas can no longer keep silent. Judas’s carefully crafted hypocrisy finally begins to crumble and he speaks what is on his mind.
John 12:4–5 NKJV
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?”
Even when he begins to reveal himself for the selfish devil he is, he crafts it in such a way that the other disciples agree with him.
John 12:6 NKJV
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.
John 12:7 NKJV
But Jesus said, “Let her alone; she has kept this for the day of My burial.
Matthew 26:28 NKJV
For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.
Matthew 26:8 NKJV
But when His disciples saw it, they were indignant, saying, “Why this waste?
Looking back on it John reveals what Judas’s true motives were.
John 12:7 NKJV
But Jesus said, “Let her alone; she has kept this for the day of My burial.
John 12:6 NKJV
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.
Even as Judas’s hypocrisy begins to crumble, Jesus lovingly rebukes him.
John 12:7–8 NKJV
But Jesus said, “Let her alone; she has kept this for the day of My burial. For the poor you have with you always, but Me you do not have always.”
This incident seems to have been the last straw for Judas. After having made up his mind to position himself in order to profit financially now sees that no expense will be spared in the worship of Jesus. There is nothing left to do now, except to see how much the chief priests will give him if he turns Jesus over. Immediately after Matthew’s account of this story he records the following:
Matthew 24:14–16 NKJV
And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come. “Therefore when you see the ‘abomination of desolation,’ spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place” (whoever reads, let him understand), “then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.
Matthew 26:14–16 NKJV
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.
He likely wanted more, but thirty pieces of silver, the price of a slave, is all he could get. So as Jesus is anointed out of overwhelming love He is also betrayed out of Judas’s overwhelming hatred.

And It Was Night

Now, after already taking the money to betray Jesus, Judas goes into the Upper Room with the rest of the disciples. In the last hours of Jesus’ earthly ministry with his disciples John tells us that the devil had put it into the heart of one of the twelve to betray Jesus. Judas was so hostile towards Jesus at this point that Satan himself saw it as an opportunity to plot against Jesus using one of Jesus’ very closest friends. Jesus then gives them the ultimate lesson in humility by washing the disciples’ feet. Even as Jesus washed Judas’s feet he kept up the act, completely unmoved. Later that evening Jesus explicitly tells them that “one of you” will betray me. Judas was so crafty that the disciples were willing to accuse themselves before they even thought of Judas saying, “Lord, it it I?” Judas, knowing it was him, still keeping up the act asks the same question, “Rabbi, is it I?”
John then writes of Judas’s departure
John 13:
John 13:23–30 NKJV
Now there was leaning on Jesus’ bosom one of His disciples, whom Jesus loved. Simon Peter therefore motioned to him to ask who it was of whom He spoke. Then, leaning back on Jesus’ breast, he said to Him, “Lord, who is it?” Jesus answered, “It is he to whom I shall give a piece of bread when I have dipped it.” And having dipped the bread, He gave it to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon. Now after the piece of bread, Satan entered him. Then Jesus said to him, “What you do, do quickly.” But no one at the table knew for what reason He said this to him. For some thought, because Judas had the money box, that Jesus had said to him, “Buy those things we need for the feast,” or that he should give something to the poor. Having received the piece of bread, he then went out immediately. And it was night.
As Satan entered into him, Judas’s fate was sealed. Having had all the opportunity to love and adore the Son of God - the Savior of the World, he condemned himself to damnation. His heart was so consumed with greed and ambition that Satan literally took over and it was night.

The Betrayal

Judas then went straight to the religious leaders and informed them of where Jesus would be - in Gethsemane praying. It was now time to hand Him over. Under cover of night, Judas would betray Jesus at Gethsemane. John tells us that Judas knew the place because Jesus would often meet there with the disciples. Luke tells us that Judas was a coward and sought to betray Jesus in the “absence of the multitude.”
Luke 18:2 NKJV
saying: “There was in a certain city a judge who did not fear God nor regard man.
In Gethsemane as Jesus pours out His heart to His Father to the point of sweating drops of blood, Judas receives a detachment of troops (up to 600) and marches on the garden. He then identifies Jesus with a kiss, the mark of friendship. Being the selfish coward he was he tried to maintain his hypocrisy even to the very end.

Judas’s Death

The deal was complete. Jesus was now betrayed by one of his closest friends for the price of a slave. Immediately Judas’s guilt set in. Not genuine guilt that produces repentance, but the guilt of public shame for being a traitor.
Matthew 27:3–4 NKJV
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!
Matthew 27:3–5 NKJV
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.
He did not seek forgiveness. Instead he selfishly sought escape from unpleasant feelings. Judas’s story concludes this way:
Matthew 27:6–8 NKJV
But the chief priests took the silver pieces and said, “It is not lawful to put them into the treasury, because they are the price of blood.” And they consulted together and bought with them the potter’s field, to bury strangers in. Therefore that field has been called the Field of Blood to this day.
Acts adds some detail of his death in the following account:
Acts 1:18–19 NKJV
(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. And it became known to all those dwelling in Jerusalem; so that field is called in their own language, Akel Dama, that is, Field of Blood.)
And that is the final word about Judas.
Conclusion: Judas is a tragic example and a warning. He is an example of what lost opportunity looks like, and He is a warning against drawing close to Christ superficially without giving Him your heart. He lived with the light of the world and sold his soul into outer darkness.
To end positively, after Jesus’ resurrection Judas’s office was filled by Matthias. Not much is known about Matthias other than that he took the office of Judas as an apostle. Matthias then became another ordinary man with an extraordinary calling.
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