Olsen Park Church of Christ

The World's Glorification of Judas

Introduction.  In recent decades there has been a strange move in various circles (the entertainment industry, biblical scholarship, and probably some pulpits) regarding the character and motive of the most infamous of the twelve apostles – Judas Iscariot.  Movies on the life of Jesus portray Judas as one of Jesus’ closest friends.  A documentary I saw some time back, that was dedicated to the lives of the twelve apostles analyzed the behavior of Judas and suggested that he wasn’t really a traitor. Instead, the program argued that he simply wanted to step up the timetable and force Jesus to assume kingship.  They offer in defense of this the fact that:

1) A kiss is never used in ancient times for betrayal;

2) He tries to return the money;

3) He commits suicide when he realizes that his plan led to Jesus’ death.

      This odd reinterpretation of Biblical history does not reflect the full record of Scripture and may betray some more dangerous tendencies regarding our world’s treatment of the Bible, sin, and Jesus himself.  This evening I’d like for us to examine briefly the world’s move towards the glorification of Judas.

I.  The Biblical Record Concerning Judas.

A.  Judas’ call as an apostle (Matthew 10:2-4)  Nothing is known about the specific call of Judas.

B.  Judas’ behavior among the apostles.

1.  He taught and healed (Matthew 10:1; 5-8).

2.  He was a thief (John 12:4-6).  This shows a past greed for money.

C.  Judas’ betrayal of Jesus.

1.  Judas’ goes to the chief priests (Matthew 26:14-16)  “sought opportunity to betray Him.”  (Mark 14:11)  “how he might conveniently betray Him” —  Away from the crowds?  Luke 22:6 “in the absence of the multitude.”

2.  The signal (Matthew 26:48)  “seize Him.”  Mark 14:44) “lead Him away safely” (unclear from the Greek if Jesus’ safety is the issue or the avoidance of a tumult.

3.  Jesus prediction of his betrayal (John 13:21-30).

4.  Judas’ betrayal (John 18:1-12)  The synoptic gospels all mention the kiss of betrayal (Luke 22:47,48).  Note: Jesus’ Question.  This was a particularly sinister action.  Acting liking a friend but really being a traitor!  (Matthew 26:50 “friend” Gr. hetairos a very intimate term for a companion.

D.  Judas’ death.

1.  Judas’ remorse (Matthew 27:1-10).  There is no question that Judas felt remorse.  The very manner in which he dealt with his remorse shows his lack of faith and the shortsighted nature of his actions. -- Perhaps he didn’t think Jesus would die but he was still a carnally minded thief more interested in money than serving God.

2.  Judas’ death (Acts 1:18,19).

E.  Biblical Interpretation of Judas (Acts 1:12-26).

1.  “Guide to those who arrested Jesus” (vs. 16).

2.  “Wages of iniquity” (vs. 18).

3.  “By transgression fell” (25b).

4.  “That he might go to his own place” (25c).  Where was his own place?  (cf. “son of perdition” John 17:12).  His own place was condemnation.

5.  Often when scripture speaks of Judas it adds “who betrayed Him.”  Note: Luke 6:16  “traitor.” Clearly, Scripture views Judas as 1) a thief, 2) a traitor, 3) whose motive was sinful (see Luke 22:3 “Satan entered Judas” – not possession but influence – cf. Acts 5:3,4 = “conceiving” in the heart.  see John 13:2 “put it in the heart”  Jesus even calls Him a devil – John 6:70,71 ), and 4) he was condemned because of it.

II.  Motives Behind a Reinterpretation of Judas’ Character.

A.  Literary creativity.

1.  Some treat the Bible as if it is some common writing of man that can be interpreted and reinterpreted in whatever manner that human creativity can conceive.

2.  This is seen in legal matters in a loose interpretation of the constitution that reads in laws, rights or prohibitions that are not in the actual text.

3.  Historical tendency towards reading allegory into every passage.  We must be careful in reading in types and symbolism where it is not explicitly stated.

4.  There is a “right” and a “wrong” way to interpret Scripture.  (2 Timothy 2:15,16). 

B.  The devaluation of Scripture.

1.  The child of God holds firmly to the fact that if God said something, it is true (Proverbs 30:5).

2.  For some people, if the Bible said it, it can’t be true!

3.  To such people the Bible is a human writing that is subject to the biases and weaknesses of its writers.  These reject the account of Judas in Scripture because it “obviously was written by those who hated Judas and wanted to see him as a villain.”

4.  The Bible is the word of God (2 Timothy 3:16,17 ).

5.  It was not created by human biases and evaluations (2 Peter 1:16-21).

C.  Historical revisionism.

1.  When the communists held control of the former Soviet Union it was vitally important that they presented human history to their people in a manner that reinterpreted historical events in a way that supported their political views.

2.  The same things occurs in matters of religious history (e.g. Palestinians who have deliberately destroyed archaeological evidence of Jewish occupation of Palestine.

3.  Some seek to do the same to Biblical history.

4.  The Bible is an accurate record of history!  (Luke 1:1-4).

D.  Minimalization of Judas’ sin.

1.  If I struggle with a particular sin, if I can minimize its seriousness I can make myself think that it is not as serious if I give in to that sin.

2.  Many in the world, after beginning to follow Jesus, betray Him out of a love of the things of this world.

3.  If we do this (like Judas did this) there is no noble underlying motive that can minimize the motive behind it.  It is sin and we can lose our souls if we don’t turn from it!  (1 John 2:15-17).

4.  If Judas had turned from sin instead of trying to run from his sin he could have been forgiven!

Conclusion.  There are things that we can know about the figures of biblical history and things that we can not.  We are not told exactly what Judas’ motives were but from what we are told he was clearly a sinful man, more concerned with material possessions that spiritual goals.

Kyle Pope 2015

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