Judas’ Betrayal

Judas’ betrayal seriously affected the Apostles in some ways.  It was one of ‘their own’ that betrayed Jesus. I have heard scholars suggest that in the text the Apostles were too harsh on Judas.  Perhaps he didn’t want Jesus to die which is suggested by his remorse yet objectively he did betray the Lord Jesus, the King of Israel and God Incarnate.  I found three sections in Matthew about the betrayal and one section in Acts.  The sections I will be going through are:

  • Matthew 26:14-19
  • Matthew 26:47-50
  • Matthew 27:1-10
  • Acts 1:15-26

Although I will be going through the Greek text I want to keep things simple so that we can grasp the meaning of the story and you can make up your own mind if the Gospels are too harsh on Judas or not.  My own point of view is that the Gospels are God’s word to us, ‘Scripture’. 

Before we move into the first section it is important to realize that somehow Judas had his own agenda. The story we already looked at when the woman anointed Jesus for his burial.  In Johns version of the story he was a thief:

“Now he said this, not because he was concerned about the poor, but because he was a thief, and as he had the money box, he used to pilfer what was put into it.” John 12:6

When thinking about this what makes a thief a thief and how do they operate?

So negatively:

  • They use stealth so that nobody can identify them.
  • They steal in order to make a profit while the victim can be at a loss in cost and emotional turmoil.
  • They tell lies as a way of concealment.
  • Although a thief cannot be trusted they find ways to get peoples trust based on false premises.

Judas because of his clandestine lifestyle from my point of view was an ideal target for Satan.  He was an ideal target because he pretended to trust Jesus and at the same time had his own idea of what the Messiah was supposed to be. For him as a Zealot:

  • His king was supposed to be strong and powerful
  • His King was supposed to put the Romans in their place.
  • A king is supposed to act as judge which would mean killing.
  • A king is supposed to stand proud over his subjects and keep them in their place.

Our Lord Jesus was a disappointment to his version of the Messiah king. Our Lord Jesus was the direct opposite:

  • Our Lord was humble and meek not strong and proud
  • Our Lord came to change hearts not murder by force of arms
  • Our Lord healed people rather than destroy them.
  • The emphasis for Israel was on mercy, not the sword.
  • Jesus came as a lamb not as a forceful ruler.

Judas was a Zealot with ideals that wanted to have the Romans kicked out of Judaea.  Background reading also shows that Zealots were not happy with the Leaders of Israel at the time. 

Then in Luke it says that Satan entered into Judas:

“And Satan entered into Judas who was called Iscariot, belonging to the number of the twelve”. Luke 22:3

Indeed from what we have written Judas was the prime candidate and it was all self-inflicted from a greedy heart.  Judas was disappointed perhaps he wanted to be the Messiahs right hand man, the one who wielded the sword of judgement. Perhaps he dreamed of being a superstar someone who people looked up to and admired and dare I say it even worshiped.  It never happened; Jesus spoke about death on a cross not a revolt that would usher in ‘a forced kingdom of God with ‘Roman slaves’.

Section 1

14 Then one of the twelve, named Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests 15 and said, “What are you willing to give me to betray Him to you?” And they weighed out thirty pieces of silver to him. 16 From then on he began looking for a good opportunity to betray Jesus.

17 Now on the first day of Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Where do You want us to prepare for You to eat the Passover?” 18 And He said, “Go into the city to a certain man, and say to him, ‘The Teacher says, “My time is near; I am to keep the Passover at your house with My disciples.”’” 19 The disciples did as Jesus had directed them; and they prepared the Passover. Matthew 26:14-19

The facts here are:

  • Judas colluded with the authorities. (Secretly)
  • He got a payment. (at the expense of Jesus arrest and death)
  • He worked actively in stealth mode to get Jesus arrested.

Section 2

47 While He was still speaking, behold, Judas, one of the twelve, came up accompanied by a large crowd with swords and clubs, who came from the chief priests and elders of the people. 48 Now he who was betraying Him gave them a sign, saying, “Whomever I kiss, He is the one; seize Him.” 49 Immediately Judas went to Jesus and said, “Hail, Rabbi!” and kissed Him. 50 And Jesus said to him, “Friend, do what you have come for.” Then they came and laid hands-on Jesus and seized Him. Matthew 26:47-50

The facts here are:

  • Judas gave instructions to the mob on how Jesus was going to be arrested
  • Judas betrayed Jesus with a kiss.
  • Although Jesus knew what was happening, still called Judas ‘friend’.

Section 3

1 Now when morning came, all the chief priests and the elders of the people conferred together against Jesus to put Him to death; 2 and they bound Him, and led Him away and delivered Him to Pilate the governor.

3 Then when Judas, who had betrayed Him, saw that He had been condemned, he felt remorse and returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, 4 saying, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.” But they said, “What is that to us? See to that yourself!” 5 And he threw the pieces of silver into the temple sanctuary and departed; and he went away and hanged himself. 6 The chief priests took the pieces of silver and said, “It is not lawful to put them into the temple treasury, since it is the price of blood.” 7 And they conferred together and with the money bought the Potter’s Field as a burial place for strangers. 8 For this reason that field has been called the Field of Blood to this day. 9 Then that which was spoken through Jeremiah the prophet was fulfilled: “AND THEY TOOK THE THIRTY PIECES OF SILVER, THE PRICE OF THE ONE WHOSE PRICE HAD BEEN SET by the sons of Israel; 10 AND THEY GAVE THEM FOR THE POTTER’S FIELD, AS THE LORD DIRECTED ME.” Matthew 27:1-10

The facts here are:

  • Judas was upset that Jesus was going to be killed.


What was the aim of Judas?


  • For the money (a small amount compared to the oil that Jesus was anointed with by Mary)
  • As a Zealot to force Jesus to bear arms
  • He was angry with Jesus and wanted some revenge and discomfort for Jesus for personal reasons of animosity.

We really don’t know.

Section 4

15 At this time Peter stood up in the midst of the brethren (a gathering of about one hundred and twenty persons was there together), and said, 16 “Brethren, the Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit foretold by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus. 17 For he was counted among us and received his share in this ministry.” 18 (Now this man acquired a field with the price of his wickedness, and falling headlong, he burst open in the middle and all his intestines gushed out. 19 And it became known to all who were living in Jerusalem; so that in their own language that field was called Hakeldama, that is, Field of Blood.) 20 “For it is written in the book of Psalms,





21 Therefore it is necessary that of the men who have accompanied us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us— 22 beginning with the baptism of John until the day that He was taken up from us—one of these must become a witness with us of His resurrection.” 23 So they put forward two men, Joseph called Barsabbas (who was also called Justus), and Matthias. 24 And they prayed and said, “You, Lord, who know the hearts of all men, show which one of these two You have chosen 25 to occupy this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place.” 26 And they drew lots for them, and the lot fell to Matthias; and he was added to the eleven apostles. Acts 1:15-26

The facts here are:

  • Judas was sorry for what he did and killed himself for the betrayal, he couldn’t live with himself.
  • The Apostolic place was also ‘an office’.  The Apostles looked for the right candidate for the Job.


From my point of view Judas was a victim of his own greed and false dreams of grandeur. Yes, he was a thief and a lot of the time he worked in a clandestine manner to hide his real motives.  Sadder still metaphorically speaking, it is also true that there can be a little Judas in every heart.   Yes, Satan entered into Judas so let us by faith learn from his mistakes and cling to Jesus our Lord and be filled with His Holy Spirit. 

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