The World's Glorification of Judas
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
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
A. Judas’ call as an apostle (Matthew
10:2-4) Nothing is known about the specific call of Judas.
B. Judas’ behavior among the
1. He taught and healed (Matthew
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.
3. “By transgression fell”
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
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
4. The Bible is an accurate
record of history! (Luke 1:1-4).
D. Minimalization of Judas’
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
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
4. If Judas had turned from
sin instead of trying to run from his sin he could have been forgiven!
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.