Judas lost his integrity before he betrayed Jesus. Although a chosen disciple, his mind-set was like the Pharisees who wanted honour, and he loved money (Luke 16:14). Judas proved this by being a thief (John 12:6). It seemed to have been common knowledge among the other disciples: having responsibility for all the money given to Jesus, Judas used some of it for himself. It was old fashioned corruption, or perhaps it was even considered a 'perk' of the job. Although the tax collectors were hated for it (Luke 5:30), similar behaviour by the religious leaders was ignored.
Judas was not forced into betraying Jesus. He made his choice. Step by step he went through the negotiations, until they agreed a price on Jesus' head. Everybody was pleased that day. It was a successful contract. The greed of the errant disciple and the hatred of the temple officials met together over thirty pieces of silver. But God knew about their secret meeting; 500 years previously Zechariah was inspired to write: "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. And the Lord said to me, ‘Throw it to the potter’– the handsome price at which they valued me! So I took the thirty pieces of silver and threw them to the potter at the house of the Lord.." (Zechariah 11:12-13). The prophecy was gruesomely accurate because, after Judas' death, that exact sum purchased a potter's field for his burial (Matthew 27:3-10).
It was years of petty theft and dishonest accounting which provided easy access for Satan to twist Judas to fulfil his fatal role. Yet at every point Judas could have repented and asked for Jesus' help to live a new life. By the time his feet took him to the temple conspirators, the outcome was almost inevitable. It was the final link in a chain of wrong decisions, wilful disobedience, selfish indulgence, and calculated deception.
Potentially, there is a Judas in every one of us. We are all capable of loving what God hates (Proverbs 6:16-19). Betraying our Lord's reputation, gospel, and right to rule should be unthinkable for every believer. But once we allow our focus to shift from relating with God to religious activity, and from service to self-satisfaction, the scene is set for Satan to invade our thinking and sear our consciences. It is not hard to turn off the path of righteousness and descend step by step into Satan's clutches. Self-deception and hypocrisy will both play their part in anaesthetising our sensitivity to the truth. The end result is dishonour for Christ and all who stand with Him. So let us freshly resolve to do away with wrong habits and fleshly ambition. Let us repent and turn with God's help before it is too late (1 Peter 2:1-3).
© Dr Paul Adams