He’s the most notorious villain in the story. The one who pretended to believe, pretended to follow, but in the end, betrayed Jesus. He was one of the twelve chosen disciples, yet today, people don’t even name their dogs Judas.
Who knows why Judas joined Jesus’ group. Was it for the glory? Did he think Jesus was the political Messiah who would break Rome’s stranglehold on Israel? Was it for the money? Money is always a good idea, he thought.
Think of your favorite stories from the Gospels and look for Judas’ face. He was there in the background. When Jesus raised the dead, Judas watched. When Jesus walked on water, Judas sat in the boat. When Jesus called out demons, Judas witnessed it. When Jesus healed severed spinal cords and optic nerves, Judas saw it happen. Judas was with Jesus for a million unrecorded moments we’ll know nothing about.
Seriously, after three years walking side by side with Jesus, couldn’t Judas walk one more day with Him to the cross?
Judas played the part, but the truth never pierced his heart. He never embraced Jesus with true faith. But what would motivate Judas to walk into the Sanhedrin’s snake pit and offer to spy on Jesus? Maybe he saw the end coming, and he wanted out—but not without compensation for three wasted years. He wanted a kingdom, not a cross. He wanted the money. So he gave Satan the foothold to destroy him.
For the whole last week, Judas looked for his moment to set Jesus up—and collect the promised 30 pieces of silver—enough to buy a slave . . . or a new outfit.
No one suspected Judas, except of course, Jesus. At their last supper together, He sat Judas in the place of honor, next to Him so they could talk privately. Even knowing what Judas was about to do, Jesus washed his feet. He gave Judas every opportunity to turn around, even at this 11th hour.
“One of you will betray me,” Jesus finally announced. Did Judas look up from his plate at Jesus? Did he hesitate going through with his plan? But in that final moment, Satan saw Judas’ vulnerability and enters him and Judas’ door of opportunity slams shut.
“What you are about to do, do quickly,” Jesus whispers to him. The next time we see Judas, he’s leading 600 Roman guards right to Jesus—identifying Him with a kiss in a crowd on a dark night.
It’s hard to guess why later that night Judas woke to the shameful thing he’d done. He tried to undo his treachery by giving back the money to the ones who had planned the ambush, but they laughed at him.
Satan laughed at Judas, too. He convinced him his life was over. And Judas’ body hung from his belt on the southeast side of Jerusalem before morning.
Not far away, Jesus’ body was broken for Judas and every sinner like him who will just turn around. Here’s your life back, it’s like Jesus was saying. By faith, embrace My forgiveness and live.