Why Did He Do It?

Judas Iscariot knew Jesus ChristReally knew Him. He knew exactly what Jesus looked like (see What Did Jesus Look Like?), His height, His weight, the color of His hair, and the sound of His voice. He actually talked with Jesus, face to face, countless times. He knew Jesus' favorite foods, the places that He liked to go to most often, His sense of humor, and all sorts of other personal traits because he was one of a very few who spent years actually working and traveling with Jesus. Judas witnessed at least some of Jesus' miracles firsthand (see Miracles Of Jesus Christ), so to him, rock-solid faith should have been very easy. And yet, after all of his close experience with The Savior, he betrayed Him to death. For a few coins.

Garden Of GethsemaneWhy did he do it?

Not a great amount is known of Judas before becoming one of The Twelve Apostles. We know that he was the son of a man named Simon, who was also surnamed Iscariot. Judas is the Greek form of Judah. "Iscariot" is thought to be taken from the Hebrew Ish Kerioth, which means something like "a man from Kerioth." Kerioth was a town located in the south of the land of Israel, not far from Hebron.

Judas' greatest weakness seemed to be money. Or rather, his lack of honesty with money. Perhaps because of at first seeming like a good money manager, he got himself appointed as keeper of the disciples' money, which was kept all together in a simple sack (John 13:29). Judas once took issue with Mary (see Martha and Mary), sister of Jesus' good friend Lazarus (see Lazarus, Come Out!), for her "wasting" some very expensive perfume to anoint Jesus. He claimed that the perfume could have been sold and the money given to the poor, but he actually wanted it for himself. Judas wasn't merely greedy, he was an outright thief (John 12:4-6). In the end, he betrayed Jesus for the payment of 30 silver coins (Matthew 26:15)

For whatever it may or may not be worth, Judas did feel deep remorse very soon after Jesus was (unlawfully) arrested The Fateful Night, and he did repent of his betrayal of Him (Matthew 27:3-4), but it was too late. Jesus said of His betrayer, "woe to that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! It would have been better for that man if he had not been born." (Matthew 26:24 RSV) (see The Unpardonable Sin)

When the chief priests and elders (see SanhedrinCaiaphasSadducees and Pharisees) refused to take back the money, Judas just threw the coins into The Temple (see Temples) and then went off and hanged himself (Matthew 27:5). It's hard to imagine a more miserable end - knowing that he had betrayed the very Son of God.

The chief priests could not put the returned "blood money" into the treasury so they used it to buy "the potter's field, to bury strangers in" (Matthew 27:6-7 RSV). In doing so, they fulfilled the prophecy written of the betrayal centuries before in Zechariah 11:12-13.

Was Satan (see That Old Serpent) actively involved in Judas' actions? Yes, definitely. Did "the devil make him do it"? Maybe. Remember, Satan can only get those who are willingly open to him - he can only get those who can "get got." Bad character attracts Satan as naturally as flies to a barnyard compost pile. On the other hand, Satan actually runs from those with good character who resist him (James 4:7) (see Why Demons Are Afraid Of You).

Some have wondered how Jesus could have made such a "mistake" in choosing Judas in the first place. After all, Jesus certainly had, through The Holy Spirit, great wisdom and power - how could He have not known that Judas would betray Him? Well, the fact is, Jesus did know that Judas would betray Him long beforehand: "For Jesus knew from the first who those were that did not believe, and who it was that would betray Him." (John 6:64 RSV). And, "Did I not choose you, the twelve, and one of you is a devil?" He spoke of Judas the son of Simon Iscariot, for he, one of the twelve, was to betray Him." (John 6:70-71 RSV)

Jesus Christ was born to die for our sins, not His own. He was an absolutely innocent man Who was to be betrayed, falsely accused, unlawfully arrested, unjustly convicted (see Pontius Pilate), and brutally executed (see How Did Jesus Christ Die?). A naturally corrupt man was required for the role of betrayer, and Judas Iscariot was the best available candidate.

Fact Finder: Did Satan actually physically enter Judas Iscariot? If so, during what famous event?
John 13:27



Copyright © Wayne Blank