Sold his soul for price of a killed slave
In the passage just before ours here, Mary (John 12:3) is remembered for pouring very expensive oil on the head and feet of Jesus. The value of the oil was a year’s wage of a common laborer. Judas Iscariot, one of the twelve apostles, was very bothered by this expensive waste (destruction) – in his estimation — saying that the oil could have been sold and the money given to the poor. But John tells us in his gospel account that Judas did not care about the poor, but that he was a thief who stole from offerings given to Jesus and those with Him. (John 12:6) Today we are going to remember Judas, for our learning and admonition.
Mary loved Yeshua, and she did not count the cost to express her love. She sat at His feet to listen to Him, even though her sister was busy preparing a meal for them. (Luke 10:38-42) Mary wanted to be with Yeshua for who He is: the lover of her soul. Judas did not love Yeshua, but rather the privileges of being one of the Messiah’s specially chosen disciples, and of the power and influence that it gave him to be with the promised King of Israel, son of David. Judas had a serious character flaw, and we see that, despite knowing and being with the Lord and hearing His teachings and doing all the wonderful things that the other apostles also performed for those 3 ½ years, he never really submitted to the Lord’s sovereignty and His holy and righteous character, and to the truth that Yeshua really knew the hearts of every man. (John 2:23-25; Acts 1:24; Heb. 4:13)
Judas went sometime before the last Passover supper to the chief priests to betray Jesus to them. He was willing to betray the Lord for 30 pieces of silver, the price of a slave accidentally killed by an ox. (Matt. 26:14-16; Exod. 21:32) The value today of those 30 shekels is between $90 – $3000!
( https://aleteia.org/2017/04/12/how-much-might-judas-30-pieces-of-silver-be-worth-today/ )
The oil of Mary was worth more than Jesus to Judas. Like Esau, Judas was willing to give up all – to sell his soul — for a moment’s foolish reasoning. (Gen. 25:29-34; Heb. 12:14-17) But the seed of this foolishness began to take root long before the decision of destiny.
How much is Jesus worth to you? How much are you worth to Him?
In ch. 13, Yeshua taught His disciples that in the last days many false messiahs and false prophets would come to deceive the elect, if possible. The devil is a master deceiver. Judas was with, and knew, the true Messiah, and the true Prophet, but allowed himself to be deceived because, I believe, he wanted to ‘make Jesus’ act now — Kingdom now! – by force, if necessary, to establish His kingdom, and Judas would play a key role. He would be the hero! Our hearts are deceitfully wicked! Our flesh is still battling the Spirit of God within us. (Gal. 5:17)
The devil deceived Judas into thinking he was doing a good thing in betraying Jesus to the Jewish rulers. When Jesus, at the Passover supper, told Judas to go out and do it quickly (John 13:27). None of the other apostles knew where he went or what he was about to do. Judas apparently thought that Jesus was sending him to do his ‘deceit’, and so accomplish a good thing. How else to explain that when the time came, Judas gave the sign to those sent to arrest Jesus that he would kiss Jesus so that they would know which man to arrest?! (Mark 14:43-44) Judas was completely deceived by the devil, and it even says that Satan entered into him. (Luke 22:3; John 13:27) When things did not work out as he had planned, he went back to the religious leaders to give them back the money, and confessed that he betrayed an innocent man. They, and the devil, did not care about Judas. Neither did Judas go back to Jesus and confess his sin and receive forgiveness. Instead he went and killed himself. Judas fulfilled a number of prophecies in the Old Testament (Tanach) by his betrayal of the Son of God (which you can look up, and pay attention to as you read the Bible).
Yeshua knew that one of the twelve that the Father had Him choose to become His apostles was a devil. (John 6:70-71) Does that mean that Judas never had a chance, that God had predestined him to destruction? Judas is called by the same name as the Antichrist: the son of perdition/destruction (ben-ha-abbadon). (John 17:12; 2 Thes. 2:3) At the last supper, when Jesus revealed which one of the apostles would be His betrayer (because no one knew! Each one even thought it might be himself, and they were sorrowful! That’s how much Jesus related to Judas in the same manner as with the rest!), Jesus said to all of them that it would happen just as it is written that it must, but “woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been good for that man if he had never been born.” (Mark 14:17-21) Yeshua, the righteous Judge of the dead and living, could never have said that if Judas had no free will, at least up until the time that he sold himself to the devil. God foreknows all things; God is sovereign; but as being created in His image and likeness, each of us has our own free will: to either choose to obey the Lord or to disobey Him; to either choose good or evil; to either choose life or death; to either choose to be with Jesus, or to be against Him. It was not at all a good deed that Judas thought to do, and did.
The context of the texts reveal that though Judas had “received his portion” in the Lord’s ministry (Acts 1:16-17), he “fell ”, and went to his “own place” (perdition/destruction/abaddon). (Acts 1:25) A believer – even an apostle — can fall from the truth and lose all that he had. (1 Tim. 4:1) Jesus tells us that he who endures [in the faith] until the end will be saved. The fear of the LORD is essential for our spiritual health. We can have confidence in our salvation, yet we are never to take it – or God — for granted. It/He is not cheap: we are very expensive! God came in the flesh to die for us; we are bought with the precious blood of Yeshua. We are called to love and to remain faithful to the Father and to His Son, and He has given us His Holy Spirit to make that possible for every believer.
Let us learn from the tragic case of Judas Iscariot to examine and judge our own hearts in our relationship with Jesus, and of our standing in the faith. (1 Cor. 11:26-32; 2 Cor. 13:5-6) As we remember in a special way this week the atonement for all our sins which God provided for us by the crucifixion and shed blood of the Messiah, Yeshua, let us be eternally grateful, and let Him accomplish His plan His way in His time, and help bring in others to know Him and love Him above all, too.
This article originally appeared on Streams in the Negev, September 22, 2017, and reposted with permission.
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Howard Bass is the congregation pastor/leader of Nachalat Yeshua (Yeshua's Inheritance) in Beer Sheva, Israel.