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APOSTLE JUDAS ISCARIOT


APOSTLE JUDAS ISCARIOT

Judas Iscariot, a member of the Twelve Apostles, is notorious for betraying Jesus Christ. He is best known for betraying Jesus to the authorities and his name is now a synonym for betrayal. The betrayal led to Jesus being arrested and crucified. Judas’ surname “Iscariot” likely indicates his origin from the town of Kerioth (Josh 15:25) in Judea. This sets him apart as the only Judean among the Galilean apostles.

Judas had attraction for Jesus, who gave him the privileged position of an apostle. Jesus entrusted him with the little money that he and his disciples received for their sustenance from well-wishers. The Evangelist John reports that “he was a thief and held the money bag and used to steal the contributions” (12:6). Jesus was well aware of what Judas was doing and was going to do. During the public ministry, Jesus said to the Apostles: “‘Did I not choose you twelve? Yet is not one of you a devil?’ He was referring to Judas, son of Simon the Iscariot; it was he who would betray him, one of the Twelve” (Jn 6:70-71). Even after walking with Jesus, listening to his discourses, and witnessing the miracles he performed for over three years, Judas could not give his heart to Jesus. Unfortunately, his interest shifted from Jesus to money.

There are some who aver that Judas was a zealot who believed that Jesus the Messiah would overthrow the Romans and establish his earthly kingdom. Judas eventually lost his hope in Jesus and sold his master for 30 pieces of silver to his enemies. When he realized that the Jews had condemned Jesus to death, he was filled with remorse, regretting deeply what he had done (Mt 27:3). He might have assumed that since Jesus had escaped previous assassination attempts, he might do the same when Judas would betray him. However, Jesus’ time had arrived. And Judas’ attempt to return the money to the chief priests and elders did not help to ease the situation and release Jesus. Even the temple authorities found it was unlawful to deposit the money in the temple treasury. So, they bought a potter’s field as a burial place for foreigners. His attempts to remedy the ensuing state of affairs having failed, Judas got depressed and hanged himself (Mt 27:3-5). The Satan that controlled Judas did not allow him to turn towards his master for forgiveness. Evidently, because of Judas’ negative characteristics, the evangelists mention him last in the list of the apostles.

Joseph’s brothers had sold him to Midianite merchants who were going to Egypt for twenty shekels of silver. History repeated with Jesus when Judas sold him for thirty pieces of silver, which was the price of a slave. When Judas realized Jesus ordered to crucify Jesus, he regretted deeply on what he had done (Mt 27:3). He might have also assumed that since his master had escaped from the assassination attempts of enemies before, he might repeat the same. However, Jesus’s time had arrived. Judas’ attempt to return the money to the chief priests and elders did not help to release Jesus. The Satan that entered Judas did not allow him to turn towards his master for forgiveness.

There has been a lot of speculation and debate surrounding Judas’ reasons for betraying Jesus. Some theories include:
According to John 12:6, Judas’ betrayal of Jesus could be attributed to his greed and possible financial misconduct.
Judas may have grown disillusioned with Jesus’ mission, hoping for a political Messiah to overthrow Roman rule rather than a spiritual leader emphasizing love and sacrifice.
Luke 22:3 and John 13:27 mention Satan entering into Judas, indicating a spiritual element to his act of betrayal.

The act of betrayal occurred in the Garden of Gethsemane, where Judas identified Jesus to the arresting soldiers with a kiss (Mt 26:47-50). Following the betrayal, Judas experienced intense remorse and attempted to return the thirty pieces of silver. Overwhelmed with guilt, he ultimately took his own life (Mt 27:3-5).

In all the Gospels, Judas goes to the chief priests and agrees to betray Jesus for 30 pieces of silver. In the Garden of Gethsemane, Judas identifies Jesus with a kiss, allowing the authorities to arrest him (Mt 26:47-50, Mk14:43-45, Lk 22:47-48).

In the Gospels of Matthew and Mark, the mention of the 30 pieces of silver indicates that Judas may have been enticed by money. Some theories suggest that Judas may have lost faith in Jesus’ message and purpose. According to the Gospel of John, Satan influenced Judas to fulfill prophecy.

Because of his guilt-feeling, and failure in approaching Jesus for forgiveness, Judas got depressed and hanged himself (Mt 27:3-5). He was so deeply depressed that he took his own life. Even the temple authorities found it was unlawful to deposit the money in the temple treasury. So, they bought a potter’s field as a burial place for foreigners.

After the resurrection of the Lord, the apostles selected Matthias to replace Judas Iscariot and to maintain the number of the original apostolic college as twelve. Matthias was one of the seventy-two disciples of Jesus.

Jesus died on the cross, not because of Judas or any of the enemies of Jesus, but because he himself surrendered to offer as the lamb of God, who took away the sin of all humanity. Jesus made use of them as agents in his sacrifice. While not retaliating our enemies or the persecutors of the church, let us be careful not to deviate our interest from Jesus into possessions like Judas.

REFLECTION

Judas Iscariot’s life offers profound lessons for Christians, emphasizing the importance of genuine faith, loyalty, and vigilance in one’s spiritual journey.

Commitment and Genuine Faith: Judas initially made a sincere commitment to Jesus, leaving everything to follow Him. He was actively involved in ministry and given spiritual gifts, including the ability to heal and authority over demons. However, active involvement in ministry does not guarantee spiritual health. Judas’s story underscores that commitment alone is not enough; genuine faith and loyalty to Jesus are essential.

The Danger of Misplaced Expectations: Judas had unparalleled opportunities, walking with Jesus for three years and witnessing countless miracles. Despite clear evidence and firsthand experience, Judas still betrayed Jesus. This highlights the incomprehensible nature of the human heart and serves as a reminder that even the best teaching and evidence won’t prevent betrayal if the heart turns away. Christians must align their expectations with God’s plans, not their own desires.

Loyalty and Integrity: Judas chose 30 pieces of silver over loyalty to Jesus, teaching Christians the importance of prioritizing faithfulness to Christ above all else. Our commitment should remain steadfast, even when faced with temptation or worldly allurements. Judas’s life is a cautionary tale urging believers to stay true to their faith regardless of external pressures.

The Corrupting Power of Greed: As the keeper of the money bag, Judas’s betrayal for silver highlights the corrupting power of greed. Christians are reminded to guard their hearts against the love of money and dishonesty, understanding how such vices can lead one away from true faith.


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