Then Jesus said, "I chose the twelve of you, but one is a devil."
To this very present day Judas being chosen by our Lord to join the other disciples is a somewhat mysterious enigma. Judas Iscariot is mentioned in Scripture of being one of the first numbered among the twelve apostles (Lk.6:13, 22:3; Acts 1:16-17) and as the one who betrayed Jesus. And yet Jesus said, "I chose the twelve of you, but one is a devil."
It has been said that there are three kinds of believers in every church: believers, unbelievers and make-believers as Judas Iscariot. Some things we need to notice about Judas, he always called Jesus teacher and he never called Jesus Lord or Master as the other disciples did, this may be a hint on how Judas perceived Jesus. Jesus wanted to be known as Lord, not just teacher (Jn.9:36-38). While the other disciples wondered what kind of man Jesus was, a man that could calm the sea by a word, Judas only accepted Jesus as Rabbi.
Judas spent over three years up-close with Jesus Himself. Judas exorcised demons, healed people, and even preached the gospel. “And He called the twelve to Himself, and began to send them out two by two, and gave them power over unclean spirits. We don’t know whom Judas was teamed up with but they all had the same message and power. “So they went out and preached that people should repent. And they cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many who were sick, and healed them” (Mark 6:12-13). Matt. 10:1 adds “and to heal all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease.”
But Jesus calls Judas “a devil” and “the son of perdition” (John 17:12). It is very interesting, there are only two people in the Bible who are called the “Son of Perdition,” Judas and the Antichrist! The Bible says the Pharisees loved money and so did Judas, so they had a common affection. This is why they were able to bribe Judas to betray our Lord.
On a more eschatological note… one of the ways the antichrist will deceive and gather people on his side is he will pretend to care about the poor. He will misrepresent himself, as a great humanitarian and offer prosperity. Judas who is called a son of perdition is a type of the one who is to come, and we can learn much from his approach. Considering that he was among those who did ministry from their heart wanting to serve Jesus with the right motives and Judas being among them was not.
In the end, Judas handed Jesus over to be murdered for thirty pieces of silver (Matt 26:14–16). Judas sold Jesus for 30 pieces of silver is approximately $12,254.00 in today's currency, if your ox killed the neighbor’s slave he was valued at 30 pieces of silver and the owner would have to pay that amount to the owner of the slave. Judas was both an unbeliever and a make-believer.
In the midst of the Last Supper, Jesus utters an interesting statement: “I do not speak of all of you. I know the ones I have chosen...” (John 13:18) Jesus tells His disciples that what He is saying doesn’t apply to all of them; His words apply to those whom He has chosen. The suggestion is clear: There is an impostor in their midst… Judas!
How in the world did Judas become one of the 12 disciples and experience the power of all these miracles of Christ then apostatize. Jesus speaks of Judas “…that the Scripture may be fulfilled, “he who eats my bread has lifted up his heels against me.” Jesus quotes Palms 41:9, which is about King David who endured the painful experience of being rejected by a one-time friend. Someone who had often eaten with David and enjoyed his hospitality turned on him and became his enemy. To eat bread is a cultural symbol that refers to personal intimacy, and to lift up the heel is a symbol of personal contempt that likely symbolizes that one had walked out on his friend. Jesus informs His disciples about Judas so that they understand that his betrayal was all a part of God’s perfect plan.
When someone's heart is not right and you give them power it only amplifies what is wrong, not what is right, another example is Peter with Simon the sorcerer. (Acts 8:18) Peter learned well from Judas’ betrayal how money can corrupt ones heart. When Simon saw what signs the apostles could do he offered money for this power. Peter’s response was “Your money perishes with you, because you thought that the gift of God could be purchased with money!” You have neither part nor portion in this matter, for your heart is not right in the sight of God. “Repent therefore of this your wickedness, and pray God if perhaps the thought of your heart may be forgiven you. “For I see that you are poisoned by bitterness and bound by iniquity” (Acts 8:20-23).
We are also told that Judas did not let the word of Jesus cleanse him “Jesus replied, "A person who has bathed all over does not need to wash, except for the feet, to be entirely clean. And you disciples are clean, but not all of you." (John 13:10). Judas did not abide in Jesus’ teachings, instead he was enticed by the authority to do miracles given to those who followed and his love for the money prevented him from being a servant.
Amazingly, Judas was among them having the same ministerial functions without suspecting he was a devil who would eventually betray their Lord. Judas is a perfect example of a tare living amongst the wheat (Matthew 13:24-50) or those claiming to do miracles in Christ’s name and where Jesus turns to them saying he never knew them (Mt.7:21). Meaning Judas did not have a relationship a two way correspondence of love with Jesus Christ. Demons were subject to Judas like the rest of the apostles, but again as in Matthews 7:21 it does not mean that if one uses his name and sees the miraculous they are saved. What proves one is saved is repentance, a continual confession of their sin and reliance on the Lords strength and the fruit of the Holy Spirit present in their life.
The Holy Scriptures had to be fulfilled. “Now Jesus, going up to Jerusalem, took the twelve disciples aside on the road and said to them, “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and to the scribes; and they will condemn Him to death; just before the time of the last Passover.” (Matt 20:17-18) “Then one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, “What are you willing to give me if I deliver Him to you?” And they counted out to him thirty pieces of silver. So from that time he sought opportunity to betray Him.” (Matt 26:14-16) This monetary transaction of the precise amount of 30 pieces of silver was prophesied 500 years earlier by the Prophet Zechariah… I told them, "If you think it best, give me my pay; but if not, keep it." So they paid me thirty pieces of silver. (Zech 11:12-13) Jesus betrayal by a close friend is seen at the last supper. Judas sat at the table on one side of Jesus, John on the other. Jesus quotes from Psalms 41 and attributes it to Judas in John. 13:18. The full verse from Ps. 41:9 is: “Even my close friend, whom I trusted, he who shared my bread, has lifted up his heel against me,” Please note that Judas was once Jesus’ close friend whom Jesus trusted! Even during his betrayal Jesus calls Judas friend, “Jesus said, "My friend, go ahead and do what you have come for." Then the others grabbed Jesus and arrested him. (Matt 26:50)
Since Jesus “knew what was in a man” (John. 2:25), how then could Jesus have trusted Judas earlier on if Judas was not to be saved. Jesus says he was not clean, in other words he heard the word day in and day out but did not take it to the heart; Judas really did not believe it or act upon it.
Compared to the other close disciples in Jesus’ ministry He spoke some strong statements that few understood and many began to leave him. As recorded in John chapter 6 he asks the question to his close disciples (the 12) about their leaving him like the others disciples. But Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom we shall go? You have the words of eternal life.” Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God. “Jesus answered them, “Did I not choose you, the twelve, and one of you is a devil? “He spoke of Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon, for it was he who would betray Him, being one of the twelve (John 6:68-71.) Now we understand how Judas was included with the twelve. Jesus knew all along who he was and yet he chose him. By doing so Jesus was fulfilling the Scripture that cannot be broken.
Another essential reason Jesus alludes to Judas’ betrayal is He wants His disciples to trust that He’s the Christ. Jesus declares, “From now on I am telling you before it comes to pass, so that when it does occur, you may believe that I am He.” (John 13:19) The phrase “I Am” (ego eimi) is used throughout John’s gospel to affirm Jesus’ deity. The phrase echoes God’s Old Testament name YHWH. The name YHWH points to God’s self-sufficiency. This is especially clear in Exodus 3:14 when God reveals Himself to Moses as “I Am.” By using this Old Testament language, Jesus is claiming that He is God. Thus, it is erroneous when cynics and critics argue that Jesus never claimed to be God.
On the most sacred night on Israel's calendar, the Passover and with the most tender symbol of affection a kiss Judas betrayed the Son of God. Kissing a teacher on the cheek or cheeks was not uncommon. We know this is a Middle Eastern custom yet today and it is also seen in Judas actions that night “Immediately he went up to Jesus and said, "Greetings, Rabbi!" and kissed Him.” (Matt 26:49) Outwardly Judas acted as an intimate friend and kissed Jesus. Inwardly he hated Christ and sought to destroy Him for Satan himself had entered Judas. “Then Satan entered Judas, surnamed Iscariot, who was numbered among the twelve.” (Luke 22:3) There was glee in hell that night for Judas has committed the most cold-blooded and chilling betrayal of the Christ.
It is difficult to apprehend how a close follower of Jesus Christ can betray Him in such a cruel manner. During the last supper we find Judas partook of the bread a symbol of Jesus’ body- flesh, Judas dipped with the bread with Jesus but he left before he could partake of the wine a symbol of Christ’s blood shed on the cross (Jn.13:26-30). Judas identified with the humanity of Jesus but not His ultimate mission as Savior. Judas left to do his betrayal before the wine was passed to partake as the new covenant. So he partook of Jesus as far as what the bread stood for, but never partook of communion, a symbol of the blood that could cleanse him.
Throughout America, many people attend church on a weekly basis and are even involved in various small groups or ministries, yet they have never personally experienced a life transformation by the power of the blood of Jesus. The reception of faith in Christ is an invisible transaction that takes place between God and an individual and it’s often difficult to know who is a believer.
Some might disagree and say just look at a person’s works to determine whether one is genuine or counterfeit.” The problem with this suggestion is that many unbelievers may have more quantity to their works than true believers. They have the external reality (works), but not the internal transformation of the heart through the power of God’s Holy Spirit by the reality of faith in Christ. This was Jesus major complaint with the Pharisees which knew the law, and much of what they spoke was good. They sat in Moses' seat, meaning they taught the law. However, they did not live it. They were hypocritical, heartless teachers of the Law who taught callous restrictions. Jesus is seen giving a harsh rebuke to these religious teachers in Matt. 23:13-16, “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the kingdom of heaven in men’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to… You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as you are. Woe to you, blind guides!”
Before Jesus was born, the religious leaders of Israel had already decided what it meant to live righteously. They had developed a system contrary to Scripture based on self- righteousness generated by doing good works. When Jesus entered the world, He shattered their religious system by upholding the standard revealed in God's Word. He revealed how a citizen of His Kingdom really lives.
The Apostle Paul while addressing the church at Corinth exhorted the Corinthians to “Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you - unless, of course, you fail the test?” (2 Cor. 13:5).
Have you ever sat down and asked yourself …what kind of a Christian are you? Are you a Christian with your heart and mind in the world and your feet in the church? Or, are you the kind that seeks to do God's will as revealed in Scripture. Whichever one you are, the Bible tells you to examine yourself to see if you are in the faith. Have you done that? Have you examined your beliefs, your actions, your motives and compared them to scripture to see what kind of a Christian you are? Are you submitting your life to God or God to your life? Do you claim the name but not the heart of Christianity? The word examine in the Greek dokima means to scrutinize or investigate, to see whether a thing is genuine or not. To examine yourself is to submit to the examination and scrutiny of Jesus Christ and to never fix your attention on sin but on Christ and to ask Him to reveal that in you which grieves His Spirit; to ask Him to give you grace that it might be put away and cleansed in His precious blood. Self examination takes the chill away from your soul, it takes the hardness away from your heart, and it takes the shadows away from your life, setting your heart free!
Christ’s amazing grace is seen as Jesus even washed Judas’ feet, showing love to his enemy. But showing love to your enemy does not guarantee they will repent. “For He knew who would betray Him; therefore He said, “You are not all clean. So when He had washed their feet, taken His garments, and sat down again, He said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you?” You call me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I am.” If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.” For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you.” (John 13:11-16) This account should motivate us to love and forgive one another. Instead, Judas hardened his heart at Christ example of forgiveness which led to the tragic consequences of his unrepentant heart. “Then Judas, His betrayer, seeing that He had been condemned, was remorseful and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, saying, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.” And they said, “What is that to us? You see to it!” Then he threw down the pieces of silver in the temple and departed, and went and hanged himself.” (Matt.27:3-5)
Judas feeling regretful for his betrayal was not a godly sorrow that would lead to repentance for salvation. In fact, the wages of his sin of betraying the Son of God resulted in his death as Paul stated to the Church in Rome. “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23)
Believers can benefit from thinking about Judas Iscariot's life and considering their own commitment to the Lord. Are we true followers of Christ or secret pretenders? And if we fail, do we give up all hope, or do we accept his forgiveness and seek restoration? Peter is a prime example of God’s forgiveness and restoration. Peter denied Jesus three times and yet Jesus forgave him and restored Peter. “And Peter remembered the word of Jesus who had said to him, "Before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times." So he went out and wept bitterly.” (Matt 26:75) Later in John 21:15-25 Jesus asks Peter if he loves Him three times because Peter had denied the Lord three times. However, Jesus was also pressing Peter and trying to impress upon him the importance of his whole-hearted effort in shepherding Christ’s church, to which Jesus was calling him.
If we sincerely… with our whole hearts accept Jesus by His Grace and acknowledge also the unfaithfulness that is found so often in our hearts, confessing our sins and seek forgiveness in His blood. Looking up at His precious blood stained hands as He gave His all for us. He covered all our sins with His precious blood. He saved us by His grace. He washed us and by His Spirit, He has made us to be His friends, His brethren. And He calls us, by grace now, to render to Him the praise of our hearts. For Him who bore our sins that we might live through Him, our faithful Friend.
Do not harden your heart today… Peace!