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Judas

March 22, 2015

“The Arrest of Christ (Kiss of Judas)”, No. 15 of 31 Scenes from the Life of Christ by Giotto (1304-1306), Location Scrovegni Chapel, Padua, Italy, Source http://geoffwren.blogs.com/photos/museum/kiss_of_judas.html (PD-Art; PD-old-100)

According to Scripture, Judas Iscariot betrayed Jesus to the Sanhedrin for thirty pieces of silver. The name “Judas” has been synonymous with betrayal, ever since.

Many have pondered Judas’ motivation.

There is a suggestion in Scripture that Judas had a weakness for money (John 12: 4-6). Some propose, therefore, that Judas’ motive was monetary.

Others surmise that Judas was a zealot, so that his motive was political. According to this line of thought, Judas either betrayed Jesus because of the Lord’s failure to liberate Israel militarily or betrayed Him in an effort to provoke rebellion at Jesus’ arrest. Such reasoning would impute a relatively noble motive to Judas.

Of late, speculation has even been raised that Judas was acting on Jesus’ instruction, so that prophecy might be fulfilled. This approach would vindicate Judas, removing all stain from his reputation.

For a man who interacted with Jesus daily, who heard the Lord speak and saw His miracles firsthand, a monetary motive seems inadequate to explain betrayal. Patriotism can provoke more emotion than greed. However, if Judas believed Jesus to be the Messiah, the very Son of God, religious fervor should have trumped patriotism.

The proposition that Judas was acting according to Jesus’ command erroneously assumes that Jesus was not the predicted Messiah. Jesus did not need to engineer events, so that prophecy might give the appearance of being fulfilled. Prophecy was fulfilled in His Person.

Here is the heart of the matter. Judas was in constant close contact with Jesus; he knew this was no hoax. Either Judas would not believe or chose to betray the Messiah and Son of God, despite knowledge of His identity. This is the unpardonable sin, to reject God despite every opportunity to know and love Him (Matt. 12: 31) [1].

Aware of all this beforehand, why then did Jesus ask Judas to be one of the twelve? Perhaps it was to assure those of us coming after that He understood the betrayals we, too, would experience. Even in this the Lord demonstrated His great love for us.

“…[B]ehold, a multitude, and he who was called Judas, one of the twelve, went before them and drew near to Jesus to kiss Him. But Jesus said to him, ‘Judas are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?’” (Luke 22: 47-48).


[1] For more on this topic, see:  NetBibleStudy.com, “The Unpardonable Sin”, http://www.netbiblestudy.com/00_cartimages/unpardonablesin.pdf.

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From → Christian, Faith, Religion

4 Comments
  1. Interesting. God bless you.

  2. Planting Potatoes permalink

    well written – brings to thought that Jesus did not name who it was specifically that would betray him….yet it seems he knew. I have participated in bible studies where the question was raised about what would have happened should Judas decide not to take the money and betray Jesus. As you write, it was a design from God that the sacrifice had to be made, so someone was going to betray Jesus. Perhaps that is why he invited even Judas to be one of the twelve?

    • Since the Jesus’ sacrifice was voluntary, it makes sense the Lord would select someone He knew beforehand would betray Him. Thanks for your input!

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