Mark 14:44-46 “And he that betrayed him had given them a token, saying, whomever I shall kiss, that same is he; take him, and lead him away safely. And as soon as he was come, Judas went straightway to him, and said, Master, master; and kissed him. And they laid their hands on him, and took him.”
When you think of the disciples of Jesus, which one do you think of first? The impetuous Peter (Luke 22:50), or perhaps “the Disciple Jesus loved” (John 13:23). Very likely, many think of Judas, the betrayer of our Jesus.
Most see Judas as a villain, a criminal, a horrible and selfish man. Throughout history, Judas has been immortalized as the betrayer of Savior Jesus. The name of Judas will be remembered as long as there is a church, a Bible or as many as one Christian left on this earth. I rather imagine more people remember the name of Judas than any other Bible character.
Regardless of what we may think of Judas as a person, he was a part of a divine plan. I cannot understand why the members of the Sanhedrin and the Roman soldiers would not have recognized Jesus. Why did He have to be identified in the Garden of Gethsemane?
After Jesus’ presence in Jerusalem during the previous week, He certainly made a name for Himself by His new teachings of salvation by forgiveness of sin and His actions in the temple with the money changers.
The purpose of Judas goes much deeper than the on-the-surface impressions we have of him. Psalm 109: 2 could be referring to the betrayer: “people who are wicked and deceitful have opened their mouths against me.” Also, the phrase in verse four, “In return for my friendship they accuse me,” could be such a prophecy. These words likely apply to the Jewish hierarchy and not Judas specifically.
It certainly seems to me, Judas had to exist and act as he did in order to fulfill prophesy and complete the plan. I have found it extremely interesting to try to determine why people think like they do. Why did Judas feel like he had to identify Jesus in the Garden?
Was Judas in control of his actions? Perhaps he was under the influence of a higher power to take the actions of betrayal. Many believe the Bible writers were in such a state of mind or trance, they had to read what they had written to actually see what they had written.
The betrayal was probably not about the 30 pieces of silver. Since Judas was the treasurer of the twelve disciples, perhaps earlier in his life he was the equivalent of today’s financial planner or CFO in a major corporation. His occupation of him possibly had something to do with the handling of money so it might be a reasonable assumption he had monetary resources in abundance.
His account appears in numerous legends and in medieval literature. In Dante’s Inferno, Judas appears in the deepest chasm of hell with Julius Caesar’s assassins, Brutus and Cassius.
One thought I have is that Judas had witnessed Jesus’ miracles and thought Jesus would rise up to free Israel from the Roman oppression. He expected Jesus to exercise His power from him to free Himself, and then form an army to destroy the Romans. Notice in the leading scripture in Mark, Judas told the soldiers to “lead Him away safely.”
Judas probably never thought Jesus’ arrest would lead to crucifixion; that he hung himself (Matthew 27:5) could be considered verification of this assumption. Judas knew full well who Jesus was and realized His awesome power from him. He knew Jesus was the redeemer and like so many in today’s world could not envision Him being anything but God with the power to overthrow the Romans.
Judas had heard Jesus’ explanation of the forgiveness of sin by believing in Him. Later, the world would know Him as crucified for the remission of sin and resurrected.
Whatever our thoughts are concerning this villain of the Bible, it remains that he became one of the most infamous people in the history of the world. The “Judas Goat” is the one that leads the herd to slaughter. Judas is a name associated with “traitor” or “betrayer.” The name Judas is never connected with anything good.
A parallel we see in today’s world is the publishing of criminal’s names and faces. At times it seems they receive more attention than the victims of their crimes.
I have stated in previous articles, I am a firm believer and supporter of “freedom of the press.” This, of course, includes electronic (TV, radio, etc.) media as well as the printed newspaper or magazine. The American people have the right to be informed of the events taking place in our country and the world.
Complete and honest reporting is to be cherished and held in very high regard. The answering of basic facts (such as who, what, where and when) reporting is still a good practice. Embellishment and dramatizing of the story is not necessary.
Another right of Americans verified in the US Constitution is the right to bear arms. The Japanese were asked why they did not, while they had the momentum, invaded the American homeland after Pearl Harbor. One prominent Japanese official is reported to have said, “because of the armed citizen.”
In recent years, because of an increasingly unstable society, there has been a rash of shootings in schools, churches, businesses and homes. While the gun is being blamed, the insanity of this society has not been adequately addressed.
Just as the name Judas has been immortalized in history, the shooters have been made celebrities. Do we need to know who they are? Nope! We do not. Why should we give others the motivation to duplicate the crime? If their desire is attention, publicizing them is inspiring them. The shooter is the perpetrator, the criminal, the villain; not the victim! The term “victim” has been misaligned in today’s world just as history may have misaligned the name of Judas.
Another thought is that the shooters could be considered victims because, in many cases, no one has ever taught them the difference in right and wrong. Those fundamental teachings fall within the responsibilities of parents and the church. Perhaps by the church not working the Great Commission (Matthew 28: 18-20) we should accept a part of the blame.
It is sad beyond words that the church is failing. Do we not see Jesus as being important enough to tell others about Him? Shame on us!
Do we recognize the names John Wilkes Booth and Lee Harvey Oswald? Of course we do because they have been made famous. To make the name of a murderer a household word is a big mistake and may inadvertently cause others to imitate their actions.
Regardless of what Judas’ thinking was or of what his motive was, he was still the betrayer of Jesus and that is not going to change. The shooters take lives! They are the criminals and certainly should not be placed in a position of celebrity.