“Now as they were eating, He said, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, one of you will betray Me.’”
— Matthew 26:21
When you think of Judas Iscariot, what words come first to your mind? Perhaps “traitor”? “greedy”? “evil one”?
Judas has never been one of the more popular disciples. In the Middle Ages, people considered Judas more of a villain than we do today. We can probably attribute the medieval attitude to the way Dante portrayed Judas in his Inferno, a great classic that takes us on a tour of Hell. In the deepest part of Hell, the gigantic fiend, Satan, has a man in his jaws. Satan has already chewed off and eaten the bottom half of this man, yet as the teeth chomp and tear, the man continues to live. The man in Satan’s jaws is Judas Iscariot.
On the other end of the spectrum, some modern-day authors have portrayed Judas as a hero of sorts. But to determine Judas’ true character, we need look no further than the Bible. The Bible calls Judas a thief. Entrusted with the disciples’ money box, which contained money to help the poor and to meet Christ’s and the disciples’ daily needs, Judas regularly dipped into it for his own use. Jesus warned Judas a number of times, but Judas never straightened out his heart. Jesus said, “Did I not choose you, the twelve, and one of you is a devil?” (John 6:70).
Judas was a man consumed by greed, and his greed led to his destruction. Judas was also a hypocrite. He appeared a practical man of sound reputation, which is why the apostles chose him as their treasurer. But he just played the part of a responsible man. When Judas said, “Why was this fragrant oil not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?” he didn’t really care about the impoverished. He just wanted more money to steal.
Judas was a greedy, hypocritical person who met the fate he was due. Christ could have used him for good, but instead Judas frustrated the cause of Christ. We all sin; remember that Peter, like Judas, denied Christ. But, just as Christ forgave Peter and used him to spread the Good News, Christ will forgive us when we confess our sins. He’ll use us to further His cause to the ends of the earth.
Today, check the state of your heart. Are you harboring any greed or hypocrisy? If so, avoid Judas’ fate; don’t betray Christ because of such hurtful attitudes. Like Peter, confess your sin before Christ, then move forward to further His kingdom in all you do.
“It is a terrible thing, not when a man has some gold, but
when some gold has a man, and Judas was had by gold.”