Judas Priest… and the Other Killers of Jesus
There, there. Settle. This works, trust me. We are wrapping up the school year and I am feeling a bit teachy so I thought we would do a deep dive, since the water has warmed up. “Judas Priest!” as an exclamation is often used as a substitute for saying, “Jesus Christ.” Which is absolutely taking the Lord’s name in vain. “JP” is a false and phony substitute that plays benign but is still bad. Isn’t that appropriate? Isn’t that who Judas was, a still wicked substitute for a real thing–a real friend? A real follower? A very real foe that pretended a very real faith?
John MacArthur called Judas, “…the most colossal failure in all human history.” How about that for a reputation. Really, though? All of human history? I’m glad to know it’s him and not me, because last week I felt sure it was me. Was his sin so terrible on its own? Or was it so terrible because it’s victim was the innocent Christ? Other Christians were betrayed, even crucified. What of their offenders?
Either way, Judas stands as a warning about the potential evil found in spiritual carelessness, squandered opportunity, and a hard heart. I know I should just be glad I’m not him and move on. But the recovering legalist in me is always concerned with how someone becomes such a colossal failure, to avoid this path myself. In a nutshell, here is what I found.
How a Follower of Jesus Became Judas Priest!
1. He didn’t have authentic relationships with other believers.
Anyone can have relationships, and maybe even with other Christians. But if they are the kind where your “dressed up, cleaned up, church self,” shares polite salutations with someone else’s “dressed up, cleaned up, church self,”—it is meaningless.
There is a reason God’s word encourages us to truly engage with the Body of Believers. IT IS BECAUSE IT’S GOOD FOR YOU (and them). It may be exhausting and painful at times, but ultimately, it’s for your good. It edifies and encourages you. Fellowship divides our burdens, gives opportunity for accountability and loving rebuke. Iron sharpens iron and it does it by being authentic and transparent about who you are in Christ, allowing yourself to be truly seen and known, loved, humbled, and corrected.
Authentic fellowship, or koinonia, is capable of acknowledging jerkiness and repenting. It forgives and moves on, helping others not to stumble whether by their weakness or its own.
Judas was doing a lot of things but participating in koinonia wasn’t one of them. He was with the group of twelve, but not in the group of twelve. He was from a different town, different family, and didn’t have a prior relationship with any of the other disciples. Now, we’ve all been there, at least I have. And being new wasn’t the problem so much as it was that he never moved beyond stranger to friend, family, or follower.
Many times, in Scripture the disciples are listed in pairs, either by relationship (James and John), occupation, or proximity to Jesus. John the beloved goes with Jesus, the others have their buddy—and then there’s Judas. His disconnected anonymity, in plain sight, allowed lies and resentment to go unchecked in his cold, dark heart. Friend, there is great danger in remaining on the fringe. Scooch in, lean in, press into the Lord.
- He was so blinded by resentment and disappointment about his circumstances, he missed seeing Christ for who He was.
Judas, like many Jews, wanted the Messiah to return in glory—to right the wrongs done to Jews, rebuild the temple, and set up His kingdom. Again, this was not the main problem. Even other disciples had similar hopes, but at some point, they realized this wasn’t the Messiah they got. But they built a bridge and got over it. They realized he was so much more—that it wasn’t about an earthly kingdom, but a place prepared for them with the Father. For eternity!
Not Judas, he couldn’t get over the selfishness and pride that he was hoping to indulge when he got his dues, or when he got his power and privilege that would surely come with being a faithful follower of the Messiah. But the dues never came. And though the Power was absolutely present, it wasn’t the kind Judas could harness for himself.
Following the Messiah was about serving humbly, dying to your own desires, taking up your own cross, and walking away from everything the world had to offer. Judas was never really drawn to the person of Christ. He was drawn to the potential of Christ. Jesus was the means to an end. Not a life-changer, but a game-changer for Judas, finally putting him on the winning team. Or so Judas hoped.
And there, the resentment began. Resentment that would cost him valuable time with His Savior and eternity with His Father. He was so blinded by what he wasn’t getting right then, that he missed the “riches” he could have actually enjoyed for eternity.
Judas Priest, you were so close to the Son, but with a heart so dark you couldn’t see Him. That couldn’t be any of us, right? In a trial or test, and instead of enjoying the nearness of the Savior we grow bitter because we don’t feel very “saved” yet? Or adequately appreciated for our obedience or the generosity required to follow Jesus? Just me? Prepare thy toes, friends. They might get stepped on.
Read the next post for more on the bad ways and good news of Judas Priest!
The scripture says that the love of money is the root of all evil. This was Judas’ downfall. He was the treasurer of the group for he carried the money bag.
“Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair: and the house was filled with the odour of the ointment. Then saith one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, which should betray him, Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor? This he said, not that he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and bare what was put therein.”
Money surrounded the betrayal of Christ, his death, burial, and resurrection.
First of all,
“Then Judas, which had betrayed him, when he saw that he was condemned, repented himself, and brought again the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, Saying, I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood. And they said, What is that to us? see thou to that. And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself. And the chief priests took the silver pieces, and said, It is not lawful for to put them into the treasury, because it is the price of blood. And they took counsel, and bought with them the potter’s field, to bury strangers in. Wherefore that field was called, The field of blood, unto this day. Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying, And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of him that was valued, whom they of the children of Israel did value.”
“Now when they were going, behold, some of the watch came into the city, and shewed unto the chief priests all the things that were done. And when they were assembled with the elders, and had taken counsel, they gave large money unto the soldiers, Saying, Say ye, His disciples came by night, and stole him away while we slept. And if this come to the governor’s ears, we will persuade him, and secure you. So they took the money, and did as they were taught: and this saying is commonly reported among the Jews until this day.”
Terrorists have defining marks about them:
1. They lie, tell lies, and are liars.
2. They try to imitate God, do what Christ does.
3. They try to steal what God has given others.
4. They have their own philosophy.
5. They are motivated by money.
6. They have a measure of pride.
Terrorists are motivated by Satan, who is the father of lies and he was a murderer from the beginning, according to John 8. They try to steal what belongs to others, such as today in the Middle East, those in proximity to Israel want the land that God gave to his chosen people. Even at the Red Sea, Pharaoh thought that he could drive his chariots through on dry land just like the children of Israel walked on. That did not belong to the Egyptians.
Cults want the people’s money. They have their own ideology. And they think that they are superior to others.
Maybe Judas did not realize that he was playing into the Sanhedrin’s hands. They did not like the fact that Christ had become popular with the people. They wanted prestige, prominence, and position and felt that Christ was taking these things away from them. So Jesus was sold for envy. Initially by Judas, then by Caiphas and Annas and the boys, and lastly, by the Roman soldiers. Money was all in this thing.