MATTHEW 10:4c (part two)
Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall
Matt. 10:4c (part two) “. . .who also betrayed him.”
First, what did Judas do? He betrayed Jesus, a deed almost too dastardly to contemplate. In Dante’s “Inferno” Judas dwells in the lowest bowels of Hell, residing with Satan himself. Second, are we capable of the same treachery? Yes, scary but true. Even those who wear a good reputation remain capable of extreme wickedness. Don’t be the last to ask, “Lord, is it I?” Third, why did Judas do it? At best we can offer only partial reasons–disillusionment, resentment, greed. Now we consider a fourth contributing factor–Satanic influence. Judas was careless about his private, inward life. He failed to guard his heart, allowing it to become Satan’s home. Lucifer found accommodation in his deputy, Judas, the man-devil.
Over time, Judas became by slow degrees evil incarnate. “Satan entered into Judas” (LK 22:3). The prospect is frightening to ponder. Satan came and went as he desired in Judas’ heart. Rarely has Lucifer had a more willing accomplice.
Beware the lurking danger of ever-growing inner evil. A tragic tale is told of a man some consider to have been the most effective pastor in the history of my denomination. Due to multiple extramarital affairs, he shamed the cause of Christ and brought his church to the brink of ruin. He stepped aside a while, but decided to return. As he was on the verge of forcing his way back into the limelight, the day was saved by a deacon who confronted him with allegations of six new affairs.
When he came to die, a brain tumor began pushing his eyeballs out. He was almost too grotesque to look at. While singing hymns with a friend one day near the end, he asked, “Am I dying well?” “Yes,” the friend replied, “You are dying well.” The fallen pastor sadly responded, “I wish I would have lived well.”
After this story was told in greater detail to a gathering of pastors from large churches, an eerie quiet hung over the room. Finally a question broke the deafening silence, “How can we avoid this?” The answer was immediate. “Guard your heart. Before these kinds of actions are publicly done, they are privately planted and cultivated by Satan in the heart.” Beware Satanic influence in our inner being.
What did Judas do? He betrayed Jesus. Are we capable of such treachery? Yes. Why did Judas do it? Disillusionment, resentment, greed, and Satanic influence help explain it. Now another question: fourth, how did Judas view himself?
We know what others thought of Judas. Jesus called him a devil, Bible writers branded him a traitor, all Christian history has viewed him as the epitome of treachery. Let’s take time to view Judas through his own eyes. Allow him to testify in his own behalf. Rather than speak for him, let’s hear the testimony of Judas.
First, “I have sinned” (MT 27:4a). Once the deed was set off a bit, he was able to see its ugly hideousness. When actually committing a sin we are too near it to analyze its full effect. Once we take a step back we are shocked by the action which in anticipation gave us a sense of frenzied joy. We create our own ghosts.
An awful difference exists in the look of a sin before, in contrast to after, we do it. Prior to sin, the deed is attractive, the transgression seems insignificant, but once done, the act is ugly, the violation is a monster. Temptation blurs our vision. Yielding destroys it. Guilt restores it. After Adam and Eve sinned, “the eyes of them both were opened” (GN 3:7a). The sight of enticement is short, cloudy, and superficial. The sight of conscience is long, clear, and piercing to the depth of the soul. Pitch the 30 pieces of silver, pretend it didn’t happen, hope it was a dream, pray for memory to die. But it remains and lives, a phantom haunting our souls.
Second, “I have betrayed” (MT 27:4b). Judas called himself a traitor. As conscience buried its dagger in Judas’ heart, he felt compelled to set things right.
He left Gethsemane without a word, but soon the inner fire began raging. He felt a need to do something, so he returned to the religious leaders, his co-conspirators, and confessed to them his guilt. They offered him no sympathy. Hypocrites as vile as Judas, they crucified Jesus, but would not accept “blood money.” What perversion–murder was acceptable, but money for murder was anathema.
These false shepherds felt no concern for a sheep bearing the torment of treachery. They were priests, and should have offered assistance to anyone struggling against a wounded conscience, but they extended nothing but scorn to him.
Judas made a grievous, fatal miscalculation. He went to the wrong place. Had he gone to Jesus, Judas would have received a warm welcome, and been offered forgiveness, because Jesus died for Judas’ sins as much as for anyone else’s. He also died for our sins, and is more eager to forgive us than we are to ask for it.
Third, “Jesus is innocent” (MT 27:4c). Judas bluntly confessed, “I have betrayed the innocent blood.” His actions after the betrayal prove he knew his conduct was unjustifiable. Once the fever and insanity of the crime passed, Judas remembered Jesus’ sinlessness and perfection. The betrayer gave the Betrayed the highest compliment possible–“the innocent blood.” Had there been any flaw in Jesus, Judas would have gladly used it as a salve for his stricken conscience. Had there been real fault in Jesus, Judas was the one who would have spread it abroad.
None of the Twelve bore clearer testimony to the truth Jesus is the Sinless One. Judas’ testimony favoring Jesus is in a way as valuable as that of the eleven.
Judas’ position was unique–a close acquaintance, yet also an enemy. From this close, skeptical vantage point, Judas failed to find any evidence to support the least charge of immorality against Jesus, and thus bore witness to His perfection.
Scoffers write off the opinions of the eleven as infatuation or prejudiced by friendship, but Judas’ words are free of bias. The traitor’s testimony has proved helpful to Christ’s cause. Thus, Jesus was wise, and did not err, in selecting Judas.
Fourth, “I hanged myself” (MT 27:5). Peter, the disciple who denied Christ, was vastly different from Judas, the disciple who betrayed Jesus. Peter went out and wept bitterly, knowing Jesus was with him. Judas saw nothing but a foul deed glaring at him. The chief sinner became the chief sufferer. As he saw the result of his treachery, Judas sank into intolerable self-condemning shame, his hatred for Christ mutating into hatred for self. Repulsed by what he had done, Judas came to hate himself more than he loved life, and his cruel heart imploded on itself. He gave guilty blood for innocent blood, hoping he would gladly find solace in death.
Judas had a conscience, in fact, a vigorous conscience. It became his assassin. Had he listened sooner, conscience would have rescued rather than murdered.
Judas died without hope and without pardon, neither because he took his own life–suicide is not the unpardonable sin–nor due to his crime being too heinous to be pardoned, but because he did not ask for forgiveness. Had he actually repented of sin, and asked Jesus for forgiveness, it would have been granted.
The closest Judas came to true repentance was a chastened conscience. This is a good place to begin, but regret for our sin is not enough in and of itself. Judas in essence tried to deal with his sin through penance. He returned the blood money, said nice words about Jesus, and hanged himself to show how sorry he felt.
This was not enough to make him right with God. Penance and remorse can never compensate for even the smallest sin. The only recourse is repentance, a full turning from sin in absolute surrender of one’s life to the Lord. Judas knew he had done a horrid wrong, but neither asked for forgiveness nor yielded his life to Jesus.
No evil is too large for forgiveness to be granted, on the basis of true repentance. We cannot think too negatively of our sins, but can dwell too exclusively on them, and if we do, they drive us to madness, to the tragic end Judas experienced.
Physical death was no cure, it provided no relief. Suicide did nothing to end his anguish. Instead, he entered a place where remorse would be worse forever.
How terrible to spend eternity in Hell, remembering the last person you kissed was Jesus. Judas hauntingly lived a life marked by many wasted opportunities. For three years he stayed with Jesus, living under His direct influence. Judas heard a perfect preacher and watched a flawless life, yet remained lost anyway.
Judas dwelt three years in the presence of unmingled goodness, but stayed bad. He walked with unselfishness, yet stayed selfish; he dwelt with the life-giver, but became a death broker. Church-goers, heed the dreadful warning. Our bodies can be close, while hearts are light years away. Spiritual privilege and opportunity may be all around, yet a person can stay estranged from God. Outward trimmings and rituals are meaningless unless their true meanings soak deep into our hearts.