Judas the Betrayer

February 16, 2022

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 (Matthew 26:14-16).

Who was Judas Iscariot? His father’s name was Simon (John 13:26). Judas is the Greek version of the Hebrew ‘Judah’ which means ‘Praise’ or ‘God Be Praised’. The origin of ‘Iscariot’ is unclear. It is widely held that the Greek word iskariotes comes from Hebrew ishq'riyoth, meaning ‘Man of Kerioth’, a city or region in southern Palestine. So, Judas Iscariot would be similar to calling someone ‘Bob from Bakersfield’ or ‘Judy the New Yorker’.

Do not confuse Judas Iscariot with Judas, another one of Jesus’ disciples (John 14:22), or with Judas (sometimes called Jude) who was Jesus’ half-brother (Mark 6:3). The name was common among the Jews, as was Mary and John.

It is believed that one reason why Judas Iscariot was an ‘outsider’ among the disciples is that he was from southern Judea while the other disciples were from Galilee. It could also be that ‘Iscariot’ refers to the Sicarii, a group of assassins imbedded among Jewish rebels. This would make the other disciples suspicious of Judas.

The Chief Priests were those priests who were members of the Sanhedrin, including the High Priest. But not all members of the Sanhedrin opposed Jesus. Nicodemus came to faith in Christ after his interview with the Lord in John 3. Joseph of Arimathea was also a follower of Jesus and a member of the Sanhedrin (Matthew 27:57; Luke 23:50-51; John 19:38-40).

It is to be noted that it was Judas Iscariot who sought out the Chief Priests with the offer to betray Jesus. It was fortunate for them because they were desperate to find a way to have Jesus arrested, condemned, and killed with as little publicity as possible. Having a man ‘on the inside’ to notify them when Jesus was away from public view was ideal. They had that man in Judas Iscariot.

Money was important to Judas. He was the treasurer of the band of disciples, and he was a thief - stealing from the financial resources given to support Jesus and the 12. Matthew 26:13–15 tells us the Chief Priests paid Judas 30 silver coins to betray the Lord. Thirty pieces of silver was equivalent to the price of a slave. After betraying Jesus, Judas was overwhelmed with remorse and returned the 30 silver coins to the Chief Priests and the Elders (Matthew 27:3). But remorse is not repentance. Rather than confessing his sin and seeking the Lord’s forgiveness, Judas went away and hanged himself (Matthew 27:5).

“Father, may we always seek Your forgiveness for the sins of our lives, knowing that You hear us when we confess our sins, and are faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleans us from all unrighteousness. May You be honored and praised for such love, grace, and mercy. Amen.”


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