Speaking where the bible speaks, and silent where the bible is silent.

Archive for Apr. 16, 2018

JUDAS ISCARIOT: A Man Jesus Called A Friend

 “And while He was still speaking, behold, Judas, one of the twelve, with a great multitude with swords and clubs, came from the chief priests and elders of the people. Now His betrayer had given them a sign, saying, “Whomever I kiss, He is the One; seize Him.” Immediately he went up to Jesus and said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” and kissed Him. But Jesus said to him, “Friend, why have you come? Then they came and laid hands on Jesus and took Him” (Matt 26:47-50).

Judas Iscariot, the betrayer of Jesus, has always intrigued Bible students. Why did Judas choose to follow Jesus? Why did Jesus choose Judas to be one of His apostles? Was Judas foreordained to betray Jesus and had no choice in the matter? At what point did Judas turn from the Lord? Did Judas really repent when he returned the blood money? Could Judas have been forgiven if he had truly repented? What does the Bible tell us about the man Judas?

Judas was a Jew from Kerioth (Iscariot) which means he was the only apostle who was not a Galilean (Josh 15:20-25). His father’s name was Simon (Jn 12:4). He was chosen, along with eleven other disciples, to be an apostle (Lk 6:12-16). He is named last in the lists of apostles and the phrase “who also betrayed Him” follows his name (Matt. 10:4 ff; Mk 3:19; Lk 6:16).

WHY DID JUDAS CHOOSE TO FOLLOW JESUS?

We can only surmise because the Bible does not tell us why Judas followed our Lord and Savior. Perhaps Judas was looking for a Messiah who would lead the Jews in a revolt to overthrow Roman rule? Perhaps Judas was impressed by the miracles he saw Jesus work? Perhaps he really and truly believed in Jesus at the first? Jesus’ treatment of Judas indicates that Judas was once a faithful and accepted apostle. He was sent out to preach “the kingdom is at hand” along with the other apostles (Matt. 10:5). He was given the same power to work miracles as the other apostles (Matt. 10:8). Judas’ example shows that even an apostle could fall from grace (1 Cor. 10:12 f; Gal. 5:4).

WHY DID JESUS CHOOSE JUDAS TO BE AN APOSTLE?

Did not Jesus know that Judas would betray Him? There were some things Jesus did not know when He was in the flesh (Mk 13:32). Jesus did know the nature of men (Jn 2:24, 25). He could also read men’s thoughts (Jn 3:3,4 f; Mk 2:8). Judas must have been a good man when Jesus first chose him.

DID JUDAS HAVE A CHOICE IN THE
MATTER OF BETRAYING JESUS?

Judas’ treachery was prophesied in the Scriptures, but he was not mentioned by name in the prophecies (Jn 17:12). The Psalmist David foretold Jesus’ betrayal by a friend: “Even My own familiar friend in whom I trusted, who ate My bread, has lifted up his heel against Me” (Ps. 41:9 f; Jn 13:21-30). Zechariah foretold Jesus would be betrayed for thirty pieces of silver (Zech. 11:12,13 f; Matt. 27:3-10).

The prophets simply foretold what God knew would happen. God did not will it to happen, but He worked through Judas. Judas had free will and ultimately it was His choice. God can know what will happen in the future if He chooses. However, He does not force men to do His will. He knows what men are, who will likely serve Him, and who will serve Satan. Judas was the kind of individual who gives in to Satan. He could have resisted the Devil at any point if he had wished to do so (Jam 4:7).

AT WHAT POINT DID JUDAS TURN FROM THE LORD?

The first time a flaw is seen in Judas was in Bethany (Jn 12:1-8). Jesus and His apostles were guests in a home where Mary, Martha, and Lazarus were also present. Mary took a pound of a very costly oil and anointed Jesus’ feet.
Judas demanded: “Why was this fragrant oil not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?” He was the treasurer of the apostles, but he was also a thief and stole from the money box. Would he have been chosen treasurer if it was known he was already a thief? People who have a weakness should not be put in a position of temptation if their weakness is known.

After this, Judas made his bargain with the priests to betray Jesus. At the Last Supper, the Devil “had already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray Him” (Jn 13:2). He had already arranged with the priests to betray Jesus (Matt. 26:14-17). When Jesus gave Judas the sop at the Last Supper, “Satan entered him,” and he did not resist him (Jam 4:7).

DID JUDAS REALLY REPENT?

When he saw Jesus was going to be crucified, he tried to return the price paid for the betrayal (Matt. 27:3-10). He “was remorseful”. True repentance is not simply being sorry for sin. Repentance is a change of attitude toward sin which results in a change of life: “Godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted, but the sorrow of the world produces death” (2 Cor. 7:10).

Contrast the difference between Peter and Judas. Judas regretted his sin and hanged himself. Peter wept bitterly for denying His Lord but served Him for the rest of His life. Peter repented, but Judas did not!

Conclusion: Jesus called Judas “Friend” even when He betrayed Him with a kiss. Judas could have been forgiven even then if he had repented. We too can be forgiven if we truly repent and obey (Acts 2:38 cf; 8:22).

The Cross Is About The King of Kings

“Greater love has no man than this that a man lay down his life for his friends, and you are my friends if you do whatsoever I have commanded you” (Jn 15:13,14).

“And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross” (Phil 2:8).

“So they took Jesus, and he went out, bearing his own cross, to the place called The Place of a Skull, which in Aramaic is called Golgotha. There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, and Jesus between them” (Jn 19:16-18).

The cross is about the love of Christ for all those who choose to obey him. The cross is about the obedient love Christ had for his heavenly father. The Cross is about The King of Kings!

A King Who Loves

Pilate also wrote an inscription and put it on the cross. It read, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.” Many of the Jews read this inscription, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and it was written in Aramaic, in Latin, and in Greek. So the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, “Do not write, ‘The King of the Jews,’ but rather, ‘This man said, I am King of the Jews.’” Pilate answered, “What I have written I have written” (Jn 19:19-22).

He loved all humanity in this sacrifice, and he still demonstrated love for His family that was nearby. “Standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home” ( Jn 19:25-27).

He was the King of the World, and yet he is the king who loves you. He loved you enough to die for you. Have you made Jesus your Savior by obeying the gospel?

A King Who Finishes

“After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the Scripture), “I thirst.” A jar full of sour wine stood there, so they put a sponge full of the sour wine on a hyssop branch and held it to his mouth. When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit” (Jn 19:28-30).

“And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood, you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation…” (Rev 5:9)

Jesus came into the world by the will of His heavenly Father (Jn 3:16). Jesus came into this world to die for the sins of the world (1 Tim 1:15). Jesus came prepared to die that you and I might have eternal life (Jn 10:10 f; Rom 6:23). Mission accomplished!

A King Who Saves

“A jar full of sour wine stood there, so they put a sponge full of the sour wine on a hyssop branch and held it to his mouth” (Jn 19:29).

 John tells us it was on a hyssop reed that they put the sponge containing the sour wine. Hyssop grows about two feet long and is more like grass. Some believe it is a mistake for a very similar word that means a lance or a spear. But John wrote the word for hyssop.

Just before the children of Israel left slavery in Egypt there was one final plague – the Lord would pass through the land and the firstborn sons of Egypt would die. God instructed the Israelites:

“Take a bunch of hyssops and dip it in the blood that is in the basin, and touch the lintel and the two doorposts with the blood that is in the basin. None of you shall go out of the door of his house until the morning.  For the Lord will pass through to strike the Egyptians, and when he sees the blood on the lintel and on the two doorposts, the Lord will pass over the door and will not allow the destroyer to enter your houses to strike you. You shall observe this rite as a statute for you and for your sons forever” (Ex 12:22-24).

It was the blood of the Passover Lamb which saved the House of Israel. This is John’s way of saying that Jesus was the great Passover Lamb of God whose death was to save the whole world from sin.

The scripture keeps calling us back to the blood of Christ:

“But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 Jn 1:7).

“Do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life” (Rom 6:3-4).

“And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord” (Acts 22:16).

We have a King who loved us enough go to the cross for us, finished his course by his death, burial, and resurrection, and saved us by the power of his own blood. If we are willing to obedient to him, even as he obeyed his Father, we shall be saved. Jesus commanded his apostles to “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned” (Mk 16:15-17).

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