Modern Followers of Judas Iscariot, Betray The Christ For A Price
Judas Iscariot, the disciple who betrayed his Master for 30 pieces of silver, went to his own place in due time, but men of his kind continue to pay lip-service to truth while it seems profitable to do so, only to sell out to the enemy whenever there is prospect of greater gain by so doing. Honest unbelief may command some respect, and wavering unfaithfulness may stir us to pity, but for Judas and for Judas-like characters decent men can have naught but utmost horror and contempt. Since Judas is not without his dfenders among commentators of kindred spirit, let us review from the record the actual character of this most infamous traitor known to history. Let us note both the privileges and advantages he enjoyed and the nature of his character as clearly known to God and infallibly revealed in conduct.
DISCIPLE First, then, Judas was one of the disciples, or pupils, of the greatest Teacher of all time. He did not lack good company, good examples, or good instruction. He provides in himself sufficient refutation of the fallacy that education is the cure-all for the of society. Other disciples of Jesus learned their lessons; Judas remained a rebel at heart all the while he was outwardly conforming to the Master's pattern so successfully that none of his fellow disciples suspected the evil that remained in him. From his official position as treasurer of the first church, we may suspect that Judas may have been even superior to the other disciples in intelligence, personality, and business ability. But with all his advantages, he never learned the fear of the Lord, the beginning of wisdom.
APOSTLE One morning, after praying all night, Jesus called his disciples together: "and of them he chose twelve, whom also he named apostles." (Luke 6:12-16.) Judas Iscariot was thus formally appointed to high office, thereby reminding us that exalted position does not guarantee nobility of purpose. Nor was Jucas the last little man ever to try to fill a big place. The necessity of including Judas among the twelve in order to fulfill prophecy may afford a partial explanation of why Jesus spent the preceding night in prayer.
MIRACLE WORKER Again, Judas was among the twelve Jesus "gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast them cut, and to all manner of sickness and all manner of disease." All twelve were commanded: "Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils." (Matthew 10:1-8.) So we may learn also from Judas that the power to work miracles is no sure proof of godliness. On the contrary, to many persons in the day of judgment, though they have "done many wonderful works," our Lord will say, "I never knew you" (Matthew 7:22.)
UNBELIEVER Judas may have deceived himself, and for a time he certainly deceived his fellow disciples, but the Holy Spirit is careful to inform us through John that he never deceived Jesus: "For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, who should betray him." (John 6:64.) Unbelief was in the heart of Judas all the time. He never did believe the truth of God's word; he never did believe in Christ . When to his unbelief he added the hypocrisy of a false profession, he was preparing himself to become a conscious instrument of Satan.
DEVIL "Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil? He spoke of Judas Iscariot . . . ." (John 6:70, 71.) The word for devil here is "diabolos," one of the names of Satan, meaning "accuser" or "slanderer." Note that Jesus did not say Judas would become a devil, but rather that he already was a devil. Whether Judas understood that Jesus was referring to him we have no way of knowing. Certainly the other disciples did not understand at that time, as is evident from their later questioning as to the betrayal, "Lord, is it I?" (Matthew 26:22.) People who like to accuse the servants of God of misconduct or wrong motives, or who delight to pass along evil gossip and slander, may not fully realize what they are doing, but like Judas Iscariot they aye playing the devil's role.
HYPOCRITE When Mary of Bethany anointed the feet of Jesus with precious ointment of spiknard. Judas professed to be much concerned over this apparent waste of money in view of the needs of the poor. As is generally the case, it was easy to add to a hypocritical profession of faith a hypocritical zeal for a human version of good works. "Then saith one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, which should betray him, Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor? This he said, not that he cared for the poor... ," (John 12:4-6.) Exaltation of humanism over theism, emphasis upon social service rather than divine worship, has ever been characteristic of false Christianity. Judas was not the last hypocrite to profess Christian discipleship while begrudging divine honors to the Son of God.
THIEF "This he said, not that he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and bare what was put therein." (John 3.2:6.) Now the true motives of Judas are exposed for all to see, as they appeared from the beginning to God, and as the motives of all men will one day be exposed in the light of divine judgment. "He was a thief." How many supposedly charitable enterprises, public and private, political and religious, are begun and maintained chiefly because their promoters hold the purse, ad carry what is put therein! "He was a thief." It was not his money, but his thievish soul was grieved to see a devout worshiper spending money for the Lord outside the co-operative program!
OPPORTUNIST Coming back to our text, after the chief priests (in unconscious fulfillment of prophecy) had set the price of thirty pieces of silver, we read: "And from that time he sought opportunity to betay him." (Matthew 23:16.) Evil men generally are more alert to opportunities to do evil than good men are to opportunities to do good. This simple fact of life in this world has given evil coloring to the very word "opportunist." Judas was an orportunist in the worst scense. God knows as man does not how much wickedness lies hidden in the hearts of men awaiting only the opportunity to break forth into wicked deeds. God has ordered so many restraints upon sin even in this evil world that many sinners have never committed overt acts of outraageous sin, and so they think of themselves, as they appear to others, as morally good people, perhaps even religious people. But God sees what is in the heart, and He knows every sinful theught and motive that would break forth into sinful action, given the opportunity. The religious person who is "good" only because he has no opportunity to be "bad" could be another Judas.
TRAITOR "He sought oppottunity to betray him." The betrayal is the thing we most abhor in the life of Judas. So David wrote of old: "Yea, mine own familiar friend, in whom I trusted, which did eat of my bread, hath lifted up his heel against me" (Psalm 41:9.) Jesus' foreknowledge of the event did not in any wise diminish, but perhaps rather increased. His grief over the betrayal: "I speak not of you all: I know whom I have chosen: but that the scripture may be fulfilled. He that eateth bread with me bath lifted up his heel against me. . . . When Jesus had thus said, he was troubled in spirit, and testified, and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me." (John 13:18-21.) Terrible as is the judgment of God, the wrath of God upon every lost sinner, the judgment upon this archtraitor is most terrible: "The Son of man indeed goeth, as it is written of him: but woe to that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! good were it for that man if he had never been born." (Mark 14:21.)
SUICIDE "Then Judas, which had betrayed him, when he saw that he was condemned, repented himself, and brought again the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, saying, I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood. . . . And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself." (Matthew 27:3-5.) Judas did not repent in the sense in which the word is usually used in the New Testament. A different word is used here in the original and a better translation is that Judas suffered regret or remorse. Unbelieving to the end, instead of seeking divine forgiveness he vainly sought oblivion in suacide. And, as is true of all lost sinners, instead of finding oblivion in death, he went "to his own place" Acts 1:25 -- that is, to hell. Really, every lost sinner is potentially a spiritual suicide, for "He that refuseth instruction despiseth his own soul" (Proverbs 15:32), and to unbelievers it is said, "... Ye. . . judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life." (Acts 13:46.) Natural suicide is, of course, wrong, though truly saved persons may be driven to this extremity by dire circumstances or mental aberration. But spiritual suicide is far worse, effecting not only destruction from this world but "everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord." (I Thess. 1:9.)
CONCLUSION All false professors of faith in Christ who are willing for a price to serve His enemies and betray Him are walking in the steps of Judas. Their price may be more or less than 30 pieces of silver; it may be pleasure, power, or popularity rather than money; but they are nonetheless traitors if they serve the interests of Satan while enlisted under the banner of Christ. Perhaps it is hardly necessary to point out as specific examples the modern infidels who parade themselves as leaders and teachers of Christianity but devote their lives mostly to blasphemous attacks upon the deity of Christ and the infallibility of His word -- because they find it momentarily profitable to do so. ==================
[From AAB, December, 14, 1979, pp. 1, 3. -- jrd]