Judas Iscariot

18 August 2010 15:46:02

He not only enjoyed the companionship of Jesus, heard his teaching first-hand and saw him work miracles, but Judas also healed the sick and experienced God's power at work through himself. Yet there was an area of Judas' life where he refused to change and allow God to work in his own heart.

The key lesson we draw from the life of Judas is a picture not of how to do things, but of how not to do things.

In other words his life is not one to be followed, but one to be avoided.

The Bible purposefully contains many such negative examples, including Cain murdering his brother and the Israelites dying in the wilderness because of their unbelief.

The New Testament specifically recounts both these events as incidents that are useful for our spiritual instruction.

If we can understand the factors that led to such actions we can more easily prevent them intruding into our own lives.

There are a number of ways in which we could study the life of Judas but here we will concentrate on his attitude to money and how that impacted his whole personality.

It is important at this stage to appreciate that none of the disciples was perfect and Judas was only one of twelve imperfect people. Thomas had his doubts, Simon Peter denied Christ and James and John sought positions as the greatest of the disciples.

Judas was one of the twelve sent out by Jesus with power and authority "to cure diseases, preach the kingdom and heal the sick" (Luke 9:1–2).

He not only enjoyed the companionship of Jesus, heard his teaching first-hand and saw him work miracles, but Judas also healed the sick and experienced God's power at work through himself. Yet there was an area of Judas' life where he refused to change and allow God to work in his own heart.

In John 12:6 the New Testament reveals that Judas acted as treasurer for the travelling team of Jesus and the disciples. He kept their common funds and was responsible for paying for food or any other needs of the group.

However it also says that he had a problem with greed and so he "often dipped into the funds for his own use" (TLB).

The context of this verse is the passage where Mary had anointed Jesus with expensive perfume and Judas objected to this 'waste', suggesting that it could have been sold and the money given to the poor.

His motive is revealed as greed because the perfume was worth a year's wages. Greed not only seeks more for itself but is outraged when others have more.

Judas is also revealed to have a hard heart because he did not care about the poor.

Jesus' entire ministry was directed to preaching the good news to the poor – and yet Judas had no compassion for them at all.

If we are to be true followers of Jesus we have to follow His attitudes as well as His actions.

Many commentators believe that Judas was a 'zealot' – a Jewish 'freedom fighter' – who wanted Jesus to use His miraculous powers to defeat the Romans and return Israel to Jewish control. The betrayal, arrest and imprisonment were therefore designed to force Jesus to respond and fight against the authorities.

However, we also know that Judas was a thief, greedy for money – and 30 pieces of silver was a considerable temptation.

Ephesians 4:27 advises us: 'Do not give the devil a foothold', and Judas' theft and hypocrisy had given Satan a foothold in his life, making it easy for the devil to "enter in" and persuade him to betray Jesus.

It was only after the event that Judas realised the full horror of his actions and committed suicide.

Perhaps the first key lesson we can learn from his life is that 'small' sins can give the devil a foothold and lead to other sins with much more serious consequences.

Secondly, we should assess the possible consequences of our actions beforehand rather than after the event when it is too late.

Finally, remember that Judas refused to repent and find forgiveness unlike other disciples such as Thomas and Peter.

If there is an issue in your life, confess it and prevent it destroying both you and your faith.

Scripture details the life of Judas so that we do not repeat his mistake but instead be loyal disciples worthy of our Master.


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