One of the most astounding accounts to read in the bible is the betrayal of Christ. Not just the betrayal, but the events which lead up to it never fail to boggle the reader’s mind. Reading the gospel accounts leaves us wondering “How could Judas do that?” The text is not merely a historical narrative, but a far more personal event for everyone who is a disciple of Jesus; for, if we’re not careful, we may find ourselves not too far from Judas.
Consider the text with me for a moment, and then we’ll draw some applications. Beginning in Matthew 26:14, we see Judas, just a few days before Jesus institutes the Lord’s Supper, making a deal with the chief priests. They agreed to give him thirty pieces of silver in exchange for delivering Jesus into their hands. The text tells us “from that time he sought opportunity to betray Him.” The passage picks up at a new day, and a significant evening when Jesus is gathered together with the twelve apostles. As they were eating, Jesus made a proclamation that disturbed the minds of the twelve. He said, “Assuredly, I say to you, one of you will betray Me.” At this word, they were all, as the Greek records “sphodra lupeo,” that is, violently distressed. Then “each of them began to say to Him, ‘Lord, is it I?’” But Jesus does not give them an answer individually. Instead, He responds, “He who dipped his hand with Me in the dish will betray Me. The Son of Man indeed goes just as it is written of Him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been good for that man if he had not been born.” At this point, Judas asks what everyone else seemed to jump to ask, and said “Rabbi, is it I?” Your guess is as good as mine as to why Judas asked what he already knew. Judas had already made the deal with the chief priests and has since “sought opportunity to betray Him” (v. 16). It may be that Judas saw no other option for himself but to ask because he was the only one who had bread dipped from the bowl of sauce located near Jesus (John 13:26). Maybe he wondered whether the Lord knew exactly who it would be. Maybe he thought he could keep his secret by asking, as if he didn’t know that he was the betrayer. I don’t know the exact reason, but I do know how Jesus responds, and it is heart-stopping: “You have said it.” It is plain, direct, confident, and powerful. According to John’s account, this is when Judas makes as quick of an exit as he can make: “So, after receiving the morsel of bread, he immediately went out. And it was night” (John 13:30). The next time we see Judas he is following through with his plan.
I’ve always had difficulty understanding why Judas did what he did. And as I read the account recently with my family, I had to stop and ask the same thing I always ask: “How could he do such a thing, even after he was directly called out by Jesus only a few hours beforehand? Further, how could he go through with it after Jesus specifically laid out the sentence for the crime, saying ‘it would have been good for that man if he had not been born’?” Then Kayla chimed in and opened the eyes of my unsettled mind, saying, “many people do this today, knowing the consequence of the sin and still commit it.” She hit the nail on the head and prompted this article. We’re not too far from Judas. We betray Jesus every time we choose to forsake Him to commit sin. What damage this does to one’s relationship with the Lord! Have we not read that the relationship between Christ and His church is illustrated in the marriage relationship (Ephesians 5:22-32)? We all know the seriousness of betrayal within the marriage covenant. But do we see the seriousness of betraying our relationship with Christ when we commit spiritual adultery against Him each time we choose to sin (1 John 3:6)? Some are of the mentality that most sins don’t hurt anybody. Every sin betrays Jesus. Every sin causes destruction that can last for eternity if true repentance is not accomplished.
Judas betrayed Jesus even after he had heard the consequences of such actions. Once again, we are not too far from Judas. Have we never heard the consequence of sin? John 5:28-29 “Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth–those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation.” The Bible is clear that we will be raised to condemnation if we do not do what is good. The actions of Judas are really not that surprising to me anymore, because it is an everyday occurrence here on this earth. And any Christian who commits sin knows full well the everlasting consequences of that sin before they decide to do it, just as Judas did.
When Judas was about to deliver Jesus into the hands of the chief priests, he gave them a signal, saying, “Whomever I kiss, He is the One; seize Him.” (Matthew 26:48). Today, these words remind me of the Sunday service for the betrayer of Jesus. As there may be those who come each Sunday to kiss the one that they continue to betray. They come and pay homage and praise to the Savior, only to betray Him in their sinful lifestyle. Friend, be not like Judas, do not hang yourself in your sins. Repent where it is needed—devout your life to serve the Lord. Do not betray Him and you will enjoy a life with Him. How far are you from Judas?
Article by Tanner Campbell.