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Judas Iscariot

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This article is about the Apostle who betrayed Jesus. You may be looking for the Apostle named Thaddeus.


Judas Iscariot, was a disciple of Jesus Christ, having been entrusted to carry the money[1] that they received from supporters.[2] In the mysterious will of God, Jesus had chosen him to be the one to betray Him.[3]

Having denied his intentions when Jesus revealed one of his disciples would betray him,[4] Judas left the supper table to report to the authorities that wanted to arrest his Master. Having betrayed Jesus in exchange for thirty pieces of silver,[5] he later realize he had sinned.[6] After returning the award money,[7] he committed suicide in a place later called Alceldama or the Field of Blood.[8]


Biography

Early life

"Judas" was born Judah, son of Simon, probably in the town of Kerioth. The surname Iscariot most likely means "Man of Kerioth," in reference to the Judean town.[9] Since the town's name derives from qirya (Aram: city) it is possible that he was simply a "man of the city." As with other surnames (most notably that of "Peter" given to Simon), this designation may have been given to him by Jesus or his disciples.

In a land of forced peace under the military oversight of the Romans, Judea was a hotbed of rebellion. It is not known whether political unrest affected young Judah, but for some reason he was among the thousands coming from Judea to Galilee to hear Jesus, whom some had begun to call the long promised Messiah.

Call to the Ministry

For a time, Jesus was a solitary teacher, much like his cousin John. But after picking up a core group of disciples, he became a traveling rabbi. By the time Jesus had been preaching and healing for about a year, Judas was among those hand picked by Jesus to lighten the load for his growing ministry. In the first three gospels, the calling of the "apostles" came after the calling of Matthew, son of Alphaeus from his tax table.

Given the mistrust of Jews toward tax collectors, it is no surprise that Jesus may have personally picked Judas for the job. As one of the chosen twelve apostles (Greek: sent ones), Judas saw first hand the power of God as they performed miracles on a mission trip throughout the towns of Galilee.

Fall into Apostasy

The gospel writers not only used the surname Iscariot for Judas, but in the lists he is the last one listed. He is "the betrayer." This was not expected by any of them before the fact. Only Jesus, at the last supper, knew that the task of betraying the Messiah to his enemies fell on the Judean disciple.

Humanly speaking, Judas was given the chance to become great through serving under a popular rabbi. However, as the Master refused to be made king by the crowds, Judas may have wanted to make that happen. He had seen what Jesus could do, but like John, he felt Jesus could do so much more.

As treasurer, Judas may have resented the submission Jesus showed to the government of Rome. He listened with interest when Jesus brought up the tax collector worshipping God in the shadow of a braggadocious Pharrissee. He may have felt a twinge of guilt when the widow's mite held more value to the Father than all the coins in his coin sack. His true nature showed soon after Lazarus' revival when he complained about the "waste" of a gift of perfume from the raised man's sister.

About this time, the religious leaders of the Jews began to send imposters to infiltrate the disciples. Little did they know that the greatest agent they had was within the ranks of those closest to the Rabbi. Jesus had begun to speak first of the coming judgment and then of his own suffering at the hands of his enemies. Instead of turning to God, Judas opened himself up to Satan, Then he sought out the chief priests and captains of the temple guard with a promise to betray his Master. A price of thirty pieces of silver was agreed upon and Judas waited for the opportunity. At the last supper, before they ate, Satan turne

After a final example of humility, Jesus told His disciples He knew one of them was going to betray Him. Everyone present was astonished. Judas feigned disbelief, but took the morsel of bread offered to him as the sign. At that moment, Satan entered into him. Judas quickly went out and brought a detachment of troops and officers armed with weapons with him toward the garden of Gethsemane, where Jesus usually resorted. He gave them the signal by kissing the One they were to capture, which was Jesus.

Death and Aftermath

After Jesus was taken away, Judas Iscariot felt regret and brought the money back to the chief priests, saying he had betrayed innocent blood, but the priests didn't care at that point about Judas. He threw his money on the ground before them and went to hang himself. The priests knew it was unlawful to put the money back in the treasury because it paid for the price of blood, and so used it to buy a potter's field to bury strangers in, calling it the Field Of Blood.

Not by coincidence, that very field was the place in which their accomplice chose to hang himself. In reconciling the account relayed by John with that of Peter's message to the other apostles, Judas hanged himself from a tree that allowed for a considerable fall. When either a limb gave way or the rope was insufficient for the weight, the hanging ended up splattering his intestines all over the ground. The betrayer died about 18 hours before the Master who had trusted him.

After the Resurrection and Ascension of Jesus, while awaiting the coming of the Holy Spirit, Peter exhorted about 120 disciples to choose someone to replace Judas. The group put forward two men who met the requirements for a consistent eyewitness to the life and times of the Messiah: Joseph Barsabas, and Matthias. Honoring Jesus' symbolic choice of twelve men, everyone placed their choice within a box which was then shaken. One name was pulled out: Matthias.

Characteristics

Verses

  1. John 13:29; John 12:6 (Link)
  2. Luke 8:3 (Link)
  3. Mark 3:19; Matt 10:4; Luke 6:16 (Link)
  4. Matt 26:25 (Link)
  5. Matt 26:15; Mark 14:11; Luke 22:5 (Link)
  6. Matt 27:3-4 (Link)
  7. Matt 27:5 (Link)
  8. Acts 1:19 (Link)
  9. Josh 15:25 (Link)

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