Judas, the betrayer, knew this place, because Jesus had often gone there with his disciples. The leading priests and Pharisees had given Judas a contingent of Roman soldiers and Temple guards to accompany him. Now with blazing torches, lanterns, and weapons, they arrived at the olive grove. (John 18:2-3)
Read: Acts 12:6 – 14:20
Relate: I was looking back through my earlier devotionals out of the book of John and realized that although I’ve done character sketches of others like Peter, Andrew, Philip, and Nicodemus, I never did one of Judas. It is time to fix that but before I do, I want to clear up some nonsense I’ve seen floating around. I don’t know if you have ever seen or heard something like this read but I remember first hearing it at least as far back as junior high and it has tainted my view of the disciples in a very unbiblical way:
An HR Review of Jesus’ Disciples.
Jesus, Son of Joseph
Woodcrafters Carpenter Shop
Jordan Management Consultants
Thank you for submitting the resumes of the twelve men you have picked for management positions in your new organization. All of them have now taken our battery of tests; and we have not only run the results through our computer, but also arranged personal interviews for each of them with our psychologist and vocational aptitude consultant.
The profiles of all tests are included, and you will want to study each of them.
As part of our service and for your guidance, we make some general comment, much as an auditor will include some general statements. This is given as a result of staff consultation and comes without any additional fee.
It is the staff opinion that most of your nominees are lacking in background, education and vocational aptitude for the type of enterprise you are undertaking. They do not have the team concept. We would recommend that you continue your search for persons of experience in managerial ability and proven capability.
– Simon Peter is emotionally unstable and given to fits of temper.
– Andrew has absolutely no qualities of leadership.
– The two brothers, James and John, the sons of Zebedee, place personal interest above company loyalty.
– Thomas demonstrates a questioning attitude that would tend to undermine morale.
– We feel that it is our duty to tell you that Matthew has been blacklisted by the Greater Jerusalem Better Business Bureau.
– James, son of Alphaeus, and Thaddeus definitely have radical leanings and they both registered a high score on the manic-depressive scale.
One of the candidates, however, shows great potential. He is a man of great ability and resourcefulness, interacts with people well, has a keen business mind and has contacts in high places. He is highly motivated, ambitious and responsible. We recommend Judas Iscariot as your controller and right-hand man. All of the other profiles are self-explanatory.
We wish you every success in your new venture.
Jordan Management Consultants
React: Let me give a quick overview of what the Bible really says about Judas: In Matthew his name pops up ten times. Eight of those are in chapters 26-27 and have to do directly with his betrayal of Jesus. One time He is listed among all the other disciples, and that tenth time… Oh wait, that was Jesus brother, a different Judas. The same thing happens with Mark (4 during betrayal, once among list, once the other guy) and Luke (4 and 1 but Luke doesn’t mention Jesus’ siblings by name).
In John we get a little bit more about Judas. At the end of chapter six Jesus says, “I chose twelve of you but one is a devil.” John then adds as a parenthetical that Jesus was talking about Judas. Later, in chapter twelve we have the story of Mary anointing Jesus’ feet. Judas criticizes the act saying the money was wasted and could have been used to help the poor. John then adds another parenthetical saying Judas was a greedy thief who didn’t really care about the poor.
One last note, every time Judas is mentioned in the gospels where he isn’t actually betraying Jesus, the authors add a side note that he was going to betray Judas. Every time. (Matthew 10:4, Mark 3:19, Luke 6:16, John 6:71, John 12:4) The impression I got from scripture, rather than from churchy propaganda is that Judas wasn’t all that well liked by his compatriots. There is no evidence of his “great ability and resourcefulness” he clearly did not interact with others well. The other disciples saw right through his “keen business mind” to his true actions which were clearly not responsible. Those contacts in high places? There’s no evidence the priests knew of him before he came to them and even after that point their interaction with him going forward was one of disdain.
The picture I get of Judas from the gospels, my opinion of him, is of a man who was fooling only himself. He was struggling with life controlling issues of theft and greed. Well, perhaps struggling is the wrong word. There is no evidence whatsoever that he was doing anything to have victory over them until it was far too late. What is worse, everybody seemed to know his business. If he was thinking he was getting away with it was the only person he was fooling was himself.
Am I like Judas? Are we? Are there issues of uncontrolled sin that we think we have managed to keep secret? Are there issues we think we’ve stored away in its own compartment while we go through the motions of being followers of Jesus? Have we convinced ourselves that nobody else knows? We’re not fooling anybody except ourselves. If we don’t deal with our sin, it will destroy us. Just as much as Judas was, we are responsible for betraying Jesus.
God, forgive me. You know my sin. You know those times and moments when I have failed You. You also know those times in my life when I have lived trapped in the clutches of habitual sin and the way I believed I could never break free. You know the ways I tried to hide, and cover up that sin. I was only fooling myself and I am so grateful for the humbling, for the brokenness, for the exposure I had to go through to break free. Help me to never find myself in that place again. Help me to hate sin as much as You do. Help me to have an openness and vulnerability that will keep me from trying to hide rather than dealing with my sin. Don’t let me be a Judas. Forgive me. Please, God, forgive me.