JUDAS: COMPLEX/CONFUSING EVEN 2,000 YEARS LATER


Here’s one from Lee Pierce.  Take a look… -anita

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Judas: Complex/Confusing Even 2,000 Years Later

 

Judas Iscariot is as well-known as almost any other character in the Bible short of Jesus Himself. In reading through John 13:2-11, I found myself thinking about Judas and how and why he might have done what he did and how he might feel about the outcome.

 

Judas, son of Simon of Iscariot [John 6:71], has become synonymous with the idea of ultimate betrayal. What a legacy! But so much about him has been confusing and somewhat contradictory. For example, Judas is said by Peter to have used the money from betraying Jesus to buy a field [Acts 1:18]. Peter then says, as Judas was walking in that field, he “fell headlong…and his bowels gushed out.” In Matthew’s gospel, however, the apostle relates that Judas felt remorse, tried to return the 30 pieces of silver, and ends it all by hanging himself. That sounds like a discrepancy but, at very least, Judas is clearly dead. I can’t begin to reconcile the differences in the description of Judas’ death, but I don’t wish to get hung up on the issue. I believe in biblical inerrancy and even C.S. Lewis said he opposed the fact “that every statement in Scripture must be historical truth.”

 

Some other facts about Judas bother me more so. Jesus saw fit to choose Judas as one of the original 12, yet early in His public ministry, Jesus foretold of Judas’ betrayal [6:70] and called Judas “a devil.” Whole scholarly discussions have arisen on this point. Did Jesus force or direct Judas in some way to do his evil deed, they posit? Was free will set aside here? Did Jesus simply know of Judas’ evil tendencies and allowed Judas to become part of the Passion experience? In Dr. R.C. Sproul’s Tabletalk discussion of John 13, the author notes, regarding verse 2, that while Satan “inspired” Judas to betray Jesus, “Judas was no passive actor forced to hand Jesus over to the authorities. He was an eager conspirator in our Savior’s death.”

 

Some scholars have proposed that Judas was unhappy with Jesus for not being the conquering hero that liberated Israel from the Romans, and so betrayed Him to the priests and Romans. Later, after seeing the unfolding of events that led to Jesus’ death on the Cross, Judas felt great remorse and killed himself. Mt 27:3-4 notes that Judas, in his remorse, called himself a sinner “by betraying innocent blood.”

 

It seems clear that Jesus knew Judas would have a role in His Passion and would do so “that the Scripture might be fulfilled.” [Jn 17:12] [Jn 6:64] So while Judas is a part of the plan by which Jesus dies to effect salvation, “The consequence of this…is that Judas’s actions come to be seen as necessary and unavoidable, yet leading to condemnation,” as one scholar has put it. In Matthew 26:20-25, Jesus says “woe to that man…by whom [He] is betrayed.” The Lord even says it would be better if Judas had never been born!

 

At some level, I find myself feeling badly for Judas and highly conflicted about him. I hate him at one level for causing the death of the Lord I love. Yet, the Bible is clear that Jesus had to die as a propitiation for sin. Whether Judas had evil tendencies (that’s not different from all of us in some way) and the devil could use those for his own purposes, Judas still felt remorse at the outcome of his plot. He knew Jesus possessed great power, even over death and all of nature, and maybe Judas hoped that, once Jesus was confronted by the authorities, He would rise up in that power and overcome Roman rule and free Israel.

 

In the end, Judas was, and is, despised and hated. What a sad end for a man who had direct access to God the Son and who had the privilege of seeing Jesus alive and at work in this world!

Lee Pierce

 

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