“Then Judas Iscariot, one of the Twelve, went to the chief priests to betray Jesus to them.
They were delighted to hear this and promised to give him money. So he watched for an opportunity to hand him over.”
Judas Iscariot is a prime example of a man who followed Jesus but never surrendered completely surrendered his life to Him. He serves as a warning to us that to follow Jesus means to accept not only the God Man but his will and agenda for our lives as well.
Judas was appointed by Jesus to be an Apostle, and as such traveled with Jesus and the other eleven chosen men for three years. He was both a witness to the teaching and miracles of Jesus … and, in a way not easily understood … a participant in the power of the Holy Spirit ministering to others.
He was there at the wedding feast in Cana when Jesus turned water into wine. He was present with Jesus outside the tomb of Lazarus and witnessed his rising from the dead when Jesus called, “Lazarus, come out!”
Judas himself would have cast out demons, seen the sick healed when he laid hands on them, and helped to feed 5,000 with one little boys lunch.
We sometimes have a picture of Judas sitting in a black cloak deep in the background, somehow separated from the other Apostles, but this is not the image scripture paints. He was trusted by the other disciples. As their treasurer he was entrusted with their money bag.
But Judas had his own agenda. Judas, his name appears eight times in scripture as “Ish-Kerioth”.
Iscariot is not his last name. “Ish-Kerioth” labels him as a man from Kerioth, a small town in Judea known for its insurgency. It was a hot bed for Zealots, who would resort to any means in their attempt to rid Israel of the hated Romans.
Historians are in agreement that Judas was a Zealot. Furthermore, based upon some other words used in scripture to describe Judas, it is probable that hewas a member of the Sicarri, an elite group of assassins who carried out the darkest ops of the Zealots.
They believed that any means were justified if the end was desirable. And the ‘desirable’ end the Zealots sought was the expulsion of Rome from Israel.
This goes far in explaining Judas’ betrayal of Jesus. He never left his own goals or agenda for Christ’s but sought to use means of his own choosing in an attempt to force the issue, to bring about the conclusion he and his compatriots longed for.
The Rev. David Grey
Mt. Pleasant United Methodist Church