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Judas Iscariot: Not all shades of evil

…but his flaws did him in

OLUDARE MAYOWA
BY OLUDARE MAYOWA

Judas Iscariot is one of the 12 disciples chosen by Jesus Christ at the beginning of His ministry.

The disciples are like His personal assistants, mentees or followers who are to first learn from him what his mission is all about, help Him to fulfil part of his ministry and then be the ones to carry on with the ministry after him.

The 12 were carefully chosen by Christ from various fields of endeavours and with distinct character traits that are suitable for the work of the ministry and align with the vision of Jesus Christ.

For instance, when Christ was looking for a person who will be deft in winning souls and carrying on with the core mandate, he went for Simon Peter, the fisherman who will be fishing for men for the kingdom.

Although, we are not familiar with the profile of many of the 12 disciples, apart from a few of them, like Peter who we all know to be a fisherman with his brother Andrew.

But as Bible scholars, we can guess the profile of the disciples from their roles and other Bible passages where some of their character traits and role in the ministry were revealed.

The Bible first revealed the persons of the disciples in the Book of Matthew 10:2-4. In verse 4 the Bible introduced Judas as “…and Judas Iscariot who also betrayed Him” after naming all the members of the team.

But it was in the book of John 12:4-6 that we are given a clue or hint on the kind of personality Judas was.

John 12:4-7

[3] Then Mary took a jar of costly perfume made from the essence of nard, and anointed Jesus’ feet with it and wiped them with her hair. And the house was filled with fragrance.

[4] But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples—the one who would betray him—said,

[5] “That perfume was worth a fortune. It should have been sold and the money given to the poor.”

[6] Not that he cared for the poor, but he was in charge of the disciples’ funds and often dipped into them for his own use!

The account of the writer of the book of John showed what happened when Christ was anointed by Mary at Bethany. He provided some clue as to the kind of character trait of disciple Judas as part of the narration of the story of Mary pouring an expensive ointment on Jesus’s feet and the motive for Judas’ objection to the act of pouring the expensive oil on Jesus.

John told of Judas’ greed for money as the person who keeps the box of money for the group and how he used to put his hand in the jar to steal part of the money in the treasury.

The question that readily cames to mind was why did Jesus appoint Judas treasurer of the group, was it that he could not discern that he was a thief and has his eyes on money?

One would be tempted to believe that Jesus deliberately appointed him to such a sensitive position based on the good judgment of his competence and perhaps some good character trait noticed in him.

How do I mean? He must have been a good bookkeeper and manager of resources and he was expected to be more accountable to the group which may have been the reason he was not relieved of his position even when there was suspicion that “he dip his hand in the purse for his personal use.”

However, like every human being, Judas succumbed to his flaws and this became a door through which Satan entered into him and caused him irreparable damage.

From the Bible account in the book of John 13:18-21, it was obvious that Judas was at some point a loyal follower of Christ; committed to His ministry and ready to support the spread of the gospel.

In the book of Luke 9:1-3, it was accounted that Jesus called his disciples and “gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure disease. He sent them to preach the kingdom of God and to heal the sick.” Judas was part of those who were sent and empowered to preach and heal the sick.

Also, for him to forsake all and followed Jesus, he must have been a willing disciple who found joy in following Christ and believe in His doctrine at some point.

Though some Bible scholars were trying to insinuate that Judas belonged to a sect of radical Jews who were likely not in tune with the manner Jesus carried out His mission on earth and wanted him to be more forceful to restore the kingdom to the Jewish. This postulation, to me, was a mere conjecture to further demonstrate that Judas was a bad personality from the beginning, which I defer greatly.

To examine Christ’s revelation that one of His disciples whom he eat from the same plate would betray him, I will like to rely on the account of disciple John who seems to know more about Judas than the other disciples based on his early account of the Bethany experience.

John 13:18-21

[18] “I am not saying these things to all of you; I know so well each one of you I chose. The Scripture declares, ‘One who eats supper with me will betray me,’ and this will soon come true.

[19] I tell you this now so that when it happens, you will believe in me.

[20] “Truly, anyone welcoming my messenger is welcoming me. And to welcome me is to welcome the Father who sent me.”

[21] Now Jesus was in great anguish of spirit and exclaimed, “Yes, it is true—one of you will betray me.”

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It’s important to critically examine this particular passage and understand why Jesus had to (1) emphasize that one of the disciples he has chosen will turn against him. (2) Why the disciples were confused about who would be the person Jesus was referring to that will betray Him. (3) The pain and the anguish experienced by Jesus while talking about the one who will betray him.

The fact that the disciples were also confused about the story of betrayal tells a lot about their confidence in themselves. They seem not able to figure out any of them who were capable to do such a thing. Particularly instructive was the fact that Christ himself was in anguish while announcing this. It appears that He was disappointed and perhaps due to His trust in Judas, He felt the pain of a close ally being used by the devil.

Something sure changed

From the account in the book of Luke 22:1-6, it was also obvious that something changed in the life of Judas.

We were told he went to consult with the Chief Priest on what will be his reward if he provides them with the clue on how to arrest Jesus. He went out of his way to seek them out and not the other way round.

What could be deduced from this account is that Judas allowed his flaws to do him in. His greed for money was the sole motive for his betraying Jesus and closing his eyes to all the good times he had shared with his master, the relationship with his fellow Disciples and his love for the brethren.

Money became the prime factor to him at that moment, he was willing to risk all because of his love for money. No wonder the Bible says “the love of money is the root of all evil.”

Devil was able to find an anchor in his self serving love for money and lack of contentment to be able to get him to do what he did without thinking of the implications and consequences.

“What shall it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his soul.”

But Judas did not even gain the world nor reap from the profit of his betrayal, he lost all, including what initially looked like the gain and also his soul to damnation.

His end

Matthew 27:3-6 showed clearly that Judas’s reason for betraying his master was not from a deep conviction but simply because he was blinded by his love for money to do so.

Having realised the folly of his action, he returned to the priest proceeds of his crime and then hanged himself.

This account also showed that despite it all Judas was still a man with a living conscience as his conscience could not allow him to rest and enjoy the fruit of his greed until he had made restitution.

However, the challenge with his restitution was that it was too little too late to be acceptable to his maker. Yes, he returned the proceeds of the crime, which the high priest rejected from him but his failure to seek out his master for repentance and forgiveness forever sealed his fate.

In the end, he committed suicide and end it all in ignominy without being able to atone for his sin and get a pardon that could have saved him the agony of a second death.

What are the lessons from Judas Life?

Matthew 27: 3-15

[3] About that time Judas, who betrayed him, when he saw that Jesus had been condemned to die, changed his mind and deeply regretted what he had done, and brought back the money to the chief priests and other Jewish leaders.

[4] “I have sinned,” he declared, “for I have betrayed an innocent man.”

“That’s your problem,” they retorted.

[5] Then he threw the money onto the floor of the Temple and went out and hanged himself.

This account showed that Judas was motivated first by the devil and then his greed for money to overrule his heart to commit sin. The Bible says he “changed his mind and deeply regretted what he had done.” And he went on to declare that he has sinned and betrayed an innocent man.

The passage clearly talked about a man with a conscience, a man who deeply loved Christ and a man who was troubled by what he has done against the scintilla of his conviction.

From my own deduction, I could say categorically that as much as money is important to survive in this world, it’s not the most important thing in life. Having money and allowing the desire to have it has led many to their perdition.  You can have money without the money having you. Your money supposes to be a messenger to you, but many have become the messengers to their possession, greed and avariciousness.

Lack of contentment can lead one to seek money and worldly possession by all means without regard for scruples and other values in life. Judas allowed his weakness, which was the love of money to rule over his life and he ended up in ignominy.

We must have a handle over our life and develop a set of principles through the Bible to guide the way we live our lives.

We must not succumb to the lust of the flesh and always remember that the possession of the world will not go with us to eternity, they will become outdated with time, rusted and rotten at the end of the day.

We can relate the flaw of Judas with what is happening in our society today, the love of money which has pushed many of our youth today to engage in untoward activities to get rich quick. Many have sold their soul to the devil simply because they want to have money at all costs without working for it. The story of a ‘yahoo yahoo’ boy who wanted to use his mother for money ritual in Delta was a clear example of how money has become the gods of this world to many.

In the church of today as well, many leaders have been overtaken by their love for money. Many have sold their soul and made money the main motive for floating a ministry, while some who have the calling are now abandoning their calling for the pursuit of money. Like Judas, many have turned the church of God into a money-making venture and disregard the real purpose of salvation.

It’s time for people to learn from the fall of Judas, repent and turn back from their wicked ways before it is too little too late.

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