Have you ever been betrayed by a friend – someone you trusted, someone you opened your heart to? That hurts more than anything, doesn’t it?
When Judas approached Jesus to betray him, Jesus said, “Friend, why have you come?” (Matthew 26:50 NKJV). Instead of being a friend, Judas was a fiend. Let’s not forget that Jesus handpicked Judas to be his disciple. Jesus loved him.
It is absolutely frightening that someone’s heart could be so hard. Judas went through the motions and still betrayed the Lord. Judas wanted to appear devout when, in reality, he was being so devious. That’s why Judas was so wicked.
Some would say, however, that Judas Iscariot was pushed into his betrayal of Christ. But that is not true at all. Judas acted on his own volition. Judas went out of his way to betray the Lord. And he may be the most wicked man who has ever lived.
When we think of Judas, we think of betrayal. We think of evil. However, some would suggest that Judas actually was a good guy who was trying to help Jesus, but things sort of went off the rails. Is that true?
No. The Bible tells us that Judas was a wicked man. Judas wanted to betray Jesus. He did it for the money, and he couldn’t wait to betray the Lord. Judas wasn’t a good guy who went wrong; he was an evil man.
Leading up to the death of Jesus, for a rare moment in time, God and Satan moved in the same direction. They both were moving toward the crucifixion of Jesus, but their objectives were different. Satan wanted Jesus humiliated, tortured, beaten and, most of all, stopped. God the Father wanted his son to atone for the sins of the world.
Judas played his role, but he was not a victim of circumstances or a passive tool of providence. He made his choice, and his choice made him. It is true that Satan put it in the mind of Judas to betray Christ, but it is also true that he found a willing accomplice in Judas Iscariot.
Judas could have resisted that temptation, just like we can resist temptation. He certainly knew better. After all, he had spent three years with God in human form. You would think he would have picked up a few things along the way.
Judas himself initiated the betrayal of Christ. Matthew’s gospel tells us, “Then one of the Twelve – the one called Judas Iscariot – went to the chief priests and asked, ‘What are you willing to give me if I deliver him over to you?’ So they counted out for him thirty pieces of silver. From then on Judas watched for an opportunity to hand him over.” (26:14–16 NIV).
This wasn’t something that happened at the spur of the moment. Judas had been plotting and planning to betray Jesus for quite a long time, and he did it out of pure greed. In fact, the Bible records a particular incident that proves how greedy he was. The disciples were gathered in the house of Mary, Martha and their brother, Lazarus, after Lazarus had been raised from the dead. Mary brought out some very expensive perfume, probably a family heirloom, and poured it all out on Jesus. She wanted to do something extravagant to show her love.
It was Judas Iscariot who spoke up, looking like the ultimate good steward: “Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages” (John 12:5 NIV).
All the disciples probably were nodding. That Judas, he’s a great guy – always thinking about the poor.
But John adds this detail: “He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it” (verse 6 NIV).
Things are not always as they appear. If we could go back 2,000 years and walk into the Upper Room where Jesus and the disciples were gathered, I don’t think we would be able to pick out Judas. You might look at him and think he’s the most spiritual guy of the lot, initially. But Judas was a great actor. He was a performer. He was the literal definition of a hypocrite: an actor playing a part. Judas wanted people to believe that he was pious, spiritual, humble, considerate and compassionate toward the poor. But in reality he was wicked, depraved and evil.
There was no excuse for it, because he had a perfect example in Jesus. Jesus never messed up. Jesus never had to apologize. Jesus never had to say, “I’m sorry I said that. Why did I say that?” or “I’m sorry I did that. I shouldn’t have done that.” Jesus never sinned. He was perfect. He was flawless. Yet Judas managed to betray him, and he did it with a kiss.
In that culture, there were a lot of ways people kissed. Slaves would kiss the feet of their masters or nobility. An enemy who had been captured might kiss the feet of a king when he begged for mercy. Ordinary people would kiss the back of the hand of someone they loved. But to kiss someone on the cheek was reserved only for someone who was close. It was the mark of affection and love. It spoke of intimacy.
Judas could have simply pointed to Jesus and said, “There he is. Go get him.” Or, he could have kissed Jesus’ feet or maybe the back of his hand. At least that would have been appropriate. But Judas kissed Jesus on the face. In fact, it could be literally translated that he smothered Jesus with kisses.
If Judas had said, “I don’t know what I was thinking, Lord, I’m sorry,” Jesus would have forgiven him right then and there. But Judas was so blinded by his sin and greed that he went through with it. He walked away in emptiness and misery and killed himself.
Yes, Judas was remorseful, but he wasn’t repentant. Remorse is being sorry for something, but repentance is being sorry enough to stop doing it.
Is there something you’ve done that you know is a sin before God? Now is the time to act. You can be forgiven by Jesus today if you will ask him.