EASTER 2023 NEWSLETTER
THE MAN JUDAS ISCARIOT
“19. And Judas Iscariot, which also betrayed him: and they went into an house. Mark 3:19 – KJV”
The name Judas is another form for Judah, the one being Greek and the other being Hebrew, meaning thanking God or simply praise. Hence, the name Judas Iscariot, ordinarily connotes praise; but over the years, it has come to be known with betrayal and treachery.
The first mention of Judas Iscariot was when he was appointed as one of the twelve apostles of Jesus Christ, and even at such introduction, it was made clear that he was the one that betrayed Him. Some theologians say he was the son of a James, even though there was another Judas, chosen by Jesus as an apostle, who was said to be the brother of James. Anyway, for Jesus to have picked this Judas as an apostle, he must have been a staunch believer and follower. Indeed, making him the treasurer of the team suggests that he was assumed to be trustworthy enough, to keep the purse.
Unfortunately, this Judas had been pilfering the purse, diminishing the resources available for all, by amassing so much to himself therefrom, to the knowledge of others, albeit done secretly and meant to be kept from their knowledge. This posture had made Mammon to take over the heart of Judas, in a manner of speaking, such that, at every opportunity, he sought to grow the purse so as to have something to pilfer from. For instance, when the woman with the alabaster oil broke the bottle and anointed Christ with the oil, Judas was full of complaint of how so wasteful the act was. His expression was for the thing to have been sold and the proceeds given to the poor. In the meantime, the others knew he was not so caring about the needy, but his person.
Everyone therefore, believes and condemns Judas for betraying Christ for thirty pieces of silver. But was it really just for thirty pieces of silver that Judas betrayed Jesus? Well, it is debatable. Yes, Judas betrayed Jesus; but what precisely informed the betrayal?
The leaders of the Jews were not happy with Jesus; not because of the miracles He performed, nor for the fact that He was popular. They did not like that Christ called them out over their dependence on the traditions of the fathers which, even though they compelled others to follow, they were not faithful to. Aside that, He made some of the things they believed to be false and not of God, just so that they may have better understanding of the God whom they professed as against what they had always known and practiced. For instance, it was a doctrine of the fathers handed down by Moses, that nothing work-like ought to be done on the sabbath; and that those who do it are guilty of death. For Christ, the sabbath was made for man and not man for the sabbath. Therefore, it should not be unlawful to do good on the sabbath. Also, divorce was permissible by the doctrines of the fathers; but Christ said the fathers made such doctrine and not God, therefore, God hates divorce and anyone who does divorce is an adulterer.
Invariably, the doctrines of Christ were, to the leaders of the Jews, making them more irrelevant in the face of the people and therefore dangerous for their faith or belief system. Their resolve was to take Him out. To do that, since they were only religious and not political leaders, they needed to put together great claims that would offend the State. To get this done, they needed to penetrate Christ’s inner circle. And to successfully do that, they needed a bait.
Now comes our friend, Judas Iscariot. First, his love of money may have been noticed by the religious leaders. However, more than that, even though Judas may have loved Christ for His good deeds and miracles, himself being a Jew and used to the traditions of the fathers, may have had reservations about some of Christ’s doctrines and teachings. Peter also had his reservations. Remember the episode about eating things common and unclean as recorded in the Acts of the Apostles? This may have been capitalized upon to draw Judas into accepting to show the religious leaders the Christ, just so that they may arrest Him, rebuke and “school” Him on why He could not change the tradition of the fathers. Of course, Judas was not of the mind that Christ be arrested to be executed, no. Otherwise, he would not have been sorry when the verdict to crucify Him was handed down. He was not so much about the money; else he would not have returned it to the givers. It will appear that he was lured into the act, capitalizing on his beliefs and just making monetary offer an additional bait. It is not so recorded in scripture of course; but circumstantial issues support the same.
Many are in the shoes of Judas today. Although he still had in him a firm belief in the traditions of the father, Judas pretended he was all out with Christ, perhaps just to continue to keep the purse and pilfer it, rather than opting out of following Him for the differences in their beliefs. Even now, there are many who still hold on to the traditions of the fathers whilst yet pretending to be Christians. It was heart rending to read a respected Christian claim that a fetish sacrifice eaten by a madman on the street was a sign of acceptance of the sacrifice by the gods.
Christ came to put the truth in the public glare and by it, He made it clear that there is no getting to the father except through Him – His propounded truth. Today, that truth is still giving troubles to many, as they are not able to live by it. The same reason Israel is making laws to outlaw Christianity in their State, was the thing that made Judas to give up Jesus. The scriptures foretold that towards the end, the remnant of Israel shall be converted; that, like the practice of old is glaring to them that know the signs of the times and they are out to prevent the conversion. Hence, the move to eradicate those who can make the conversion happen. They were against Christ while He was in their midst in human form; even now they are against Him while He operates through His human agents/disciples.
To be clear, Christianity cannot co-exist with traditions of the fathers. Christ came to fulfil the law. That fulfilment is that we take His position as against that of those who came before Him. He is the Way, not them, or anyone of them.
Ironically, some today, are looking for their Judas to crown, rather than engage in the ministry of reconciliation as handed them by Christ. Jesus did not make Judas His betrayer; rather, Judas got swayed by his beliefs and Mammon. In our day, we are not to seek to make Judas out of men but to seek to reconcile every one with the Judas’ trait back to the fold by showing them the way, the truth and thereby, life. However, it is Christ that is important in all that we pursue. If we are being dubbed Judas because we are relentless in our pursuit of Christ as against the doctrines of men, let all men be liars and let God be true in our affairs. Whatever they like, let them say. Let us just do our best to be at peace with all men without necessarily losing focus. In the end, the Judas will be revealed: whether it is the one that is in pursuit of the will of the Master, or those who seek to call him a bad name so as to hang him.
It is right to conclude that there are many in the fold today, who are coming through as being worse than Judas, even though they appear to be in frontal positions. The placements are not necessarily proof of devotion and commitment. It is the belief that confirms who a faithful follower is. And by Christ, it is only they that believe and are baptized that would be saved. It is another Easter, when we remember the death and the resurrection of Christ as well as His betrayal by one of His close associates. Question is: are we better than Judas today or are we also full of pretence making people think we are faithful to Christ whereas we have our different beliefs? To make it to the end, we must believe and obey His commands. That cannot include the traditions of men (or the fathers) and doing things inimical to Christ’s purpose.