Judas Iscariot was one of the 12 apostles closest to Jesus. We don’t know when or where he was called by Jesus, Judas just seems to appear in the story. We don’t really know if his intentions to become a disciple were good or bad at first, or if he had false motives all along, what we know is that he was the disciple’s treasurer. There must have been some good qualities in Judas. We just don’t know. Judas spent his time learning and watching Jesus but he wasn’t very spiritual.
If Judas wasn’t interested in following Jesus for spiritual reasons, why would he follow him? Maybe he had other motives. Judas was Jewish and he like so many other Jews hated the Roman government. The Jews wanted the Romans out of Israel. Israel was their homeland and the Romans were not welcome. The Jews hated paying Roman taxes, they hated Roman rule, Roman government, and they probably hated Roman food.
Judas saw Jesus as his ticket to leadership when Jesus overthrew the Romans kicking them out of Israel. If Jesus was who he said he was and was going to do what he said he would do, then why wouldn’t Judas want to rule Israel with him? He played the religious game to get some fantasy political position in the new government he expected the Messiah to usher in. But Jesus never came to overthrow the Roman government, he came to overthrow the powers of darkness.
Judas became one of the best known apostles because of his blatant hypocrisy in betraying Jesus. In ancient times a hypocrite was an actor. Someone who pretended to be someone they were not. The moral of Judas story is to avoid hypocrisy because hypocrisy is a spiritual form of cancer that attacks the core of the gospel destroying the work and witness of Christ in you.
The dark story of Judas is one of the most tragic and mysterious records in Scripture. But we can learn from it.
Hypocritical people are often interested in a noble cause. Judas appeared interested in the noble cause of overthrowing the Romans and helping people. He claimed to have a noble cause but in reality, he was motivated by money and power.
Hypocritical people demonstrate an outward allegiance to Christ but inwardly are self-centered. This became clear in Judas life when he yelled at Mary for anointing Jesus feet with perfume. He wanted the money. On several occasions Judas stuck it out with Jesus on spiritual grounds, but he was really in it for himself.
Hypocritical people want to be perceived as holy. Judas wanted others to think he was spiritual but he was really good at being really fake. He fooled all the other apostles up until the end. At the last supper when Jesus told the disciples that one of them would betray Him, none of them suspected Judas. Even after Jesus identified Judas as His betrayer, the other disciples still didn’t understand.
What other lessons can we learn? As believers we don’t follow any one person because people stumble and let you down. The Good Shepherd will never lead you astray. Jesus is the Good Shepherd. Follow Jesus. He will never let you down or lead you astray. The Holy Spirit will give you wisdom if you ask Him for it.
At some point we have all acted just like Judas. We have pretended to be generous but in our heart we know we are not. We have used God’s name in vein. We have lied, embellished the truth, or omitted information when we should have laid it all out. We have known the right thing to do and done the opposite.
This is why it is so important for us to stay humble, authentic, and teachable.
The Psalmist prayed:
“Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts; And see if there be any hurtful way in me, And lead me in the everlasting way.” Psalm 139:23-24
Be willing to admit your questionable motives, your selfish desires, and evil thoughts. The Apostle Paul said,
“Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other.” Romans 12:9-10
I encourage you to avoid hypocrisy. Be authentic, be real, keep growing, be Spirit led, and follow Jesus above all else. If we do this, we will grow closer to Christ and honor Him with our lives.