Judas, Juda, Jude [Jū'das]—praise of the lord.
1. The disciple surnamed Iscariot, who betrayed the Master and then hanged himself. He was the only one of the Twelve who was not a Galilean. He acted as treasurer of the apostolic band (John 6:71; 12:6; 13:26, 29).
The Gospels represent the betrayal of Christ by Judas as a horrible, diabolical crime. And it stands out as the darkest deed in human history. The word “betray” is a remarkable one meaning “to deliver up.” This is what Judas did—delivered up Jesus. Yet such a dastardly action was overruled, for Jesus was delivered by the determinate counsel of God.
Judas is a strange character and everything about his choice and conduct is mysterious. Why was he chosen? All we can say in answer is in the declaration, “that the scriptures might be fulfilled” (Matt. 26:56). The greater mystery is, why did Christ choose you and me to be His followers? Think of these features:
I. Judas'terrible crime was predicted (Ps. 109:5-8; Acts 1:16).
II. His cruel bargain was foretold (Zech. 11:12, 13).
III. He became a devil incarnate. “One of you is a devil.” As Jesus became God-incarnate, Judas became the devil-incarnate.
IV. He is called “a son of perdition.” Because the same designation is used of the Man of Sin, some writers feel that this grim figure will be Judas incarnate (2 Thess. 2:3).
V. He was a thief. He kept the bag which represented responsibility. Christ chose Judas as treasurer for the Twelve because of his commercial instinct and business acumen, but he prostituted his gift. His very endowment became a snare. A blessing was turned into a curse.
VI. He betrayed Christ with a kiss. The hatefulness of his crime reached its limit when he gave the enemies of Christ the symbol of affection. How wicked is the human heart—deceitful above all things!
VII. He was the recipient of divine patience. Why he persisted in following Christ we cannot say. All we can do is marvel at the love and patience of Christ as He bore with Judas for three years. He knew all along that this so-called disciple would betray Him, yet He kept the door open. Even when He met Judas after his contract with the foes of Christ, He greeted him as “friend.” We would have scorned the traitor and hissed “enemy” or “traitor.” Not so Christ, who is patient toward all men.
VIII. He went out to his own place (Acts 1:25). It was in self-excommunication. Christ did not excommunicate Judas—He only ratified the choice. Up to the last He gave Judas a chance to halt and turn from his wickedness. But when the die had been cast, Jesus said, “What thou doest, do quickly.”
We leave our glimpse of the despicable man of the Bible with two lessons in mind:
The journey into sin gains momentum. We never know where a wrong path may end. Sin only needs opportunity to carry us to its utmost depths.
It is sadly possible to be associated with Jesus, to hear His gracious words, witness His wonderful works, yet refuse Him our heart’s allegiance and be ultimately lost.
2. Half-brother of Jesus, brother of James and writer of the epistle known by his name (Matt. 13:55; Mark 6:3; Luke 6:16; Acts 1:13; Jude 1). See JUDE.
3. An apostle also known as Lebbeus or Thaddeus (John 14:22).
4. A Galilean who stirred up sedition shortly after the birth of Christ (Acts 5:37).
5. One with whom Paul lodged in the street called Straight (Acts 9:11).
6. The prophet surnamed Barsabas, sent with Silas to Antioch (Acts 15:22, 27).
Devotional content drawn from All the Men of the Bible by Herbert Lockyer. Used with permission.