Judas, the one among the twelve apostles chosen by Jesus, became a traitor and betrayed Jesus for a cost of three hundred silver coins. Some Bible scholars even suggest that his surname Iscariot denotes that he belonged to the group of radical Jews. However, the question is that whether he was destined to betray Jesus for the fulfilment of the prophecy or did he succumbed to the situation and became a traitor? We can also relate these questions to our lives. Are we born sinners or are we destined for something? Or are we choosing bad things to cope with the challenges of our lives?
Was Judas a Born Betrayer?
We may be born in a family with a lineage of Christian faith starting from our fore-fathers. Being the children of renowned Gospel preachers does not mean that we are sinless. Legacies can not make oneself clean. David was an anointed king when he committed adultery. The one who killed the giant Goliath and conquered his enemies failed in submitting his mind and body to God. When he pondered over his irrational decisions, he understood that he was born with a sinful nature (Psalms 51:5). With this, it is clear that Judas was a born sinner but not only with a specific trait as a traitor but with all other accessories of a sinful nature.
Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.Galatians 5:19-21
Was Judas Destined to be a Betrayer?
Many believe that Judas was predestined for betraying Jesus to fulfill the prophecies (Zachariah 11:12 – 13, Psalm 41:9, 69:25 & 109:8). With this wrong notion, they fit themselves in some destructive or grieved character, and they console their tormented souls with this predestined ideology. Further, they do not allow their conscience to act rightfully and feel hurt when the Holy Spirit condemns their actions.
Judas was chosen by Jesus Himself to become his disciple, and Jesus does not have any reason to recruit the disciples for the devil. Though Jesus had chosen the three disciples to be present in his inner circle, He shared everything in common with the rest of His disciples. Each one of them had an open chance to learn the secrets of the Kingdom of God. Judas even received the power and authority to cast out demons and heal sickness along with the other eleven disciples. If he was predestined for betrayal, why would Jesus give him the authority to cast away the demons (Luke 9:1-2)?
Did Judas Succumb to the Situation?
Judas handled the money bag, and all the expenses of the disciples were taken care of by him. He was committed to his job and fulfilled his assignment expeditiously. Judas did speculate on the price of the costliest ointment and opined that it could have spent for the poor people is true. Even Philip calculated the resources needed to feed the multitudes. Though every disciple applied their calculative mind, all Gospel writers made a hue and cry only for Judas.
Jesus placed him in a situation to deal with money, with the trust that he will understand that His grace is greater than the money he had carried along. Unfortunately, Judas gave more importance to the circumstances than the sweet fellowship he enjoyed during his discipleship. Judas gave in to the temptation and started stealing from the treasury.
For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing.Romans 7:19
Through each character of the Bible, God wants to teach us some valuable lesson so that we may enter His kingdom without having to succumb to our life situations. The element of evil seen in Judas Iscariot’s life is a common sin called greed. None of us can boldly say that we are not greedy. Judas’s life may teach us how not to be entangled in sin through greed and how to come out of it. A momentary difference of opinion with Jesus would have pushed him to take such a dangerous decision. We, too, have hesitations in accepting the Words of Jesus in many moments of our lives. Judas would have valued the authority of the Government more than that of Jesus. We, too are often influenced by the political situations of our land.
Where did Judas go wrong?
In John 10:1, Jesus explains how a robber enters into our lives. There are so many other emotional entries in our lives, which we always keep open. Our flesh, eyes, and mind are emotionally sensitive and satan uses these channels as entry points. The devil had already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, son of Simon, to betray Jesus (John 13:2). It would have become possible because of Judas’ intimacy with the Government officials.
Judas got ample chances to repent in the light of Jesus’ unconditional love. Jesus gave him authority over everything. Jesus washed his feet and emphasized the need for washing of his whole body, repentance. Jesus treated him as an honourable person by giving him a piece of bread to show His incredible love. In a deeper meaning, Jesus gave His body in a personal way to make him whole. A timely confession prevents us from the wrath of God.
Yet, Judas departed from Jesus because Satan entered into him (John 13:27). Once he enters our hearts, satan blinds our eyes to see the love of God. When Judas saw Jesus condemned, he went back to the authorities to return the money. Instead, he could have repented in his heart, and the love of Jesus would have prevented him from committing suicide. Still, he believed the power of government officials more than the power of Jesus, who now suddenly appears to be an innocent and helpless man. Matthew recorded Judas’s remorseful actions that have yielded no benefit to him. Confessions and remedial action we take up with men will never save us. True repentance causes us to run back to God and helps us to receive forgiveness. When satan takes over our lives, he leads through grief, and with that tumultuous behaviour, one may end up in eternal death.
For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.2 Corinthians 7:10
Jesus tells us about the strategy of Satan in John 10:10. Matthew has captured a live demonstration of Satan’s destructive plan in the life of Judas in his Gospel (Matthew 27:3-8)
For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit… For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.Romans 8:5-8
Our Take Away
We are better people because we are enjoying the saving grace of Jesus that makes us righteous. During the denial of Peter and betrayal of Judas, Jesus did not die for their act of ignorance, yet Jesus defended them by pouring out His love on them. Peter received that love of Jesus through His gracious look, and His love protected the act of denial till the action of redemption gets completed, but Judas missed out on that protection and destined his soul to eternal death. What if Judas did not betray Jesus? Many are afraid of even raising this question. Many think that the prophecies about the Messiah would not have been fulfilled. Some people opine that Mathias would not have replaced Judas.
Do not be fooled by the ideologies such as predestine factors or fulfilment of prophecies. God who did not spare his own Son but gave Him up for us all, how will He not graciously give us all things? (Romans 8:32) He is ready to roll back everything for our sake. He answered the prayer of King Hezekiah and rolled back the time. The people of Nineveh were spared when they repented despite the words given to Jonah about their destruction. Paul has enumerated this fact by portraying the love of God in an exemplary manner.
Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away.1 Corinthians 13:8
Hence let us put aside all logical and illogical arguments and repent. When we feel weak because of the sins we have committed, God’s love gives us strength and defends us in the presence of God our Father. Let us not blame the situation that we are in because He placed us in that situation. Hence, let us not look at that situation but look upon the grace given to us by our Father in heaven. While Judas was known as a traitor in all the four Gospels, we can not rule out his act of repentance by giving back the coins to the chief priests is in the same line that Paul treated his profits as a loss. Jesus called Judas His friend. No doubt, Jesus is the friend of sinners. Jesus, hanging on the cross, asked His Father to forgive all those who did not know what they did. Forgiveness is available to everyone since the day of crucifixion, and it is our choice whether we receive it or ignore it.
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.Romans 8:1-4