His name is Judas Iscariot. Many derogatory remarks have been made about this man; many things have been uttered against his person and many messages have been preached but in fact most messages preached do not have any positive impact especially when his name is mentioned. I am not sure if anyone is named or would ever name their children Judas; this is because of the role he played as one of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ. Judas’ name is often associated with betrayal and many have been called by this name as a result of their involvement, or having played a part in, betraying those around them. The name became a term for insult, even to this very moment, the twenty first century.
Judas was one of the generals Jesus picked to help him run his ministry. He was one of the closest to Jesus, handpicked by Jesus at the initiation of his ministry. Whenever the disciples went out to preach, he went out with them. He was one of the twelve who went out and came back rejoicing that demons bowed down to them. He was one of the disciples who it was promised would sit on the twelve thrones in heaven judging the tribe of Israel. The turn or the twist in his life came when Satan entered him and caused him to betray the Lord Jesus Christ and, from that moment to this, no one has seen anything good in this man or apostle.
Very little was said about him throughout Jesus’ ministry in comparison to someone like Peter, except at one time when he sat next to Jesus, by his right hand, during the supper, signifying how close he was to Jesus. He ate from the same bowl as Jesus and hence the statement made by Jesus that “the one that dips his hand with me in this bowl, the same will betray me”. The irony of that statement was that none of the disciples constrained Judas from carrying out the “supposed evil” and neither did Jesus.
There were twelve disciples that Jesus picked out of a whole city or country and, looking at the way we have judged Judas, one would be indirectly questioning the fact that he was picked by the master himself as the ‘root of the eventuality’, as many people would like to call it. One would inadvertently reason that God had a plan “B” for the resultant effect of what Judas did, which means that maybe God did not want Jesus to die in the first place. We cannot blame God for the actions of Judas and this is the reason why we must think that perhaps God had a reason for choosing him.
God must have had a reason, some of us will begin to think now. He chose twelve men, knowing that there was work each was to carry out within the confines of their strength and energy; all parties would be allowed the free exercise of their own choice; they were allowed to follow their course, ignorant of the fact that, all the while, they were only contributing their share towards the fulfillment of God’s plan and purpose for His Son, Jesus. God did not, and could not, make a mistake in His choosing of Judas as one of His disciples.
One of the signs and prophecies concerning Judas was reflected in the ordeal Joseph endured at the hands of his fellow brothers when they planned to kill him because of the dreams he had. Joseph was finally sold at a price to the Ishmaelite’s, signifying that Jesus, like Joseph, would be sold to the Jews so as to be in a position to prepare a place for the Church, as Joseph did go to Egypt and eventually prepared a place for his family there. Joseph met with his brothers later in the story, when they appealed to him that they had not been in control of their actions. They had done evil, ignorant of the fact that they were only carrying out what they were created for. So the focus of Joseph’s story was not his brothers, who later became part of the twelve tribes of Israel, but on Joseph who was a ‘type’ of Jesus. Had Joseph killed his brothers, preparation for the twelve tribes would have been terminated; so God was in control.
Coming back to the story of Judas, God must have chosen him for particular work He wanted him to carry out. Only Judas could do that job! According to the gospel of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, Judas agreed to betray Jesus by handing him over to the chief priests to be murdered; he agreed to lead the chief priest to Jesus where he would betray him with a kiss to his cheek. He received thirty pieces of silver for this deal he made with the chief priest.
Peter would not have been able to do it probably because he was too stiff and would have refused totally even if he knew it was God’s Will. Peter was warned before he denied Jesus; one would have expected that Peter would not deny Him but he did because there was something he had to do afterwards (he had to strengthen the brethren after he recovered). Peter could not be perfect and God had to make him realise that through the disaster. Judas was the man for the job; no other disciple could have done it. Jesus knew Judas was going to betray Him and yet He did not give any warning, as He had in Peter’s case. It was part of what God had planned and Judas had to carry it out without fail or else the plan for salvation would not have been achieved.
Now, because it was part of the plan of God, one way or another the plan had to be fulfilled. Therefore God would need someone who had a particular weakness or character (greed) because God knew the chief priest would offer money and he also knew that Judas would be tempted by it; remember the same had happened with the brothers of Joseph as they sold him to the Ishmaelite’s. Had this not happened, there would have been so many questions about the reason for Joseph’s story because we would not be able to link his story with that of Jesus.
Judas betrays Jesus to the Jews but did not know He was going to die; the whole saga was taken out of the hands of the Jews and death was imminent. He was killed according to the Will of God; Joseph was in the pit for three days and on the third day he was brought out of the pit and was afterwards shipped to Egypt. Jesus had to die according to prophecy and on the third day be raised from the dead, proceeding to the right hand of the father to prepare a place for the Church, just as Joseph had done for his family.
The issue is not in who betrayed him but that He was meant to be betrayed. Judas became remorseful; he repented of what he had done (Matthew 27:4) and tried to return the thirty pieces of silver but they did not accept it back from him. He threw the money on the temple floor and committed suicide. The question is, how would Judas have coped with the other disciples? He would not have been able to, knowing what he did. He had no choice but to kill himself and, besides, he had finished the work God had planned for him, just like John the Baptist.
Did God forgive him when he repented? YES. Did he go to hell? NO. There is no one in hell at the moment until Satan is finally condemned to where he belongs. Did God change His mind because of what Judas did? NO, God is not like man who changes his mind because of a cause. Judas would be part of the twelve and would sit on one of the twelve thrones with Jesus, judging Israel.
On the other side of the coin, we can only thank God that Judas carried out to the letter God’s plan, for if he had had second thoughts, we would not have been saved today, aside from the fact that the promises of God never fail.
His name, JUDAS, means one who is to be praised. As I have mentioned, the whole epic is not about Judas but about how Judas was used by God to accomplish His will, plan and purpose for humanity.
“Every child of God is where God has placed him for some purpose, and the practical use of this first point is to lead you to enquire for what practical purpose has God placed each one of you where you now are.” – Charles H Spurgeon.