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Judas Iscariot: Traitor among the Twelve

Pastor James F. Wright

Second Wednesday in Lent
St John Lutheran Church  
Champaign, IL

Wed, Feb 20, 2002 

Judas Iscariot: Traitor among the Twelve

Do we need an introduction to Judas I.?  He was one of the twelve.  The gospels make a point of that.  "It was Judas, one of the twelve, who betrayed Him."

This is the remarkable, terrible thing, that the betrayal of Jesus was perpetrated by one of the twelve!

The Story of Judas has 2 principal characters-- Who he was and what he had become.

After Judas was dead, long after he hung himself, Peter, also a fallen disciple, now restored, reminded the faithful that someone had to fill "this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to his own place."

Judas was one of the twelve, on his way to becoming an apostle.  But he went "to his own place."

Hard to believe it could have been him in the garden, betraying the Lord with a kiss.  For 3 years he followed Jesus, walked with, ate with, all day heard his voice, listened to his sermons, saw him give sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf, heal the sick, make the lame to walk, still the storm, feed the masses, even raise the dead.

There is no indication he was any different from the others except his name Iscariot--scholars think it means "from the town of Kerioth" in south.  All the others were from Galilee.  This makes no real difference.

Like the others, Judas could have become a preacher and great apostle of the church.  Instead he is remembered as the greatest traitor the world has ever known.

It was not God's fault.  As long as he was with Jesus, the door to repentance, forgiveness, and true discipleship was always open.  Let's not forget that.  Let's not forget the terrible thing that happened to a man who was one of the twelve.

Here we are with the Lord today in his church, gathered to his word, about to receive his body and blood.  We are a most privileged people, part of his inner circle, called to follow Jesus as his modern disciples, redeemed by his blood, blessed by his presence.  Sanctified and destined for eternal life.

How will our story end?  If it could happen to Judas, it can happen to us.  We all have a bit of Judas in us.  So did the other disciples.  They all ran away when he was arrested that night.  But they all came back eventually.  The love of Jesus won out in them.  They came back.

With Judas it was different.  As time passed, the distance between Jesus and Judas grew greater, until at last Judas, leaving the communion table, went out into the darkness of night.  He never returned.

What happened to Judas?  Was it just the 30 silver coins, worth about only $100?  Money was a big problem for Judas.

One time when a woman put expensive perfume on Jesus' feet, Judas smirked, "Why wasn't this sold and the money given to the poor."  The Bible then says how Judas used to steal from the moneybox.

Judas heard all of Jesus' sermons on money.  One sixth of all the sayings of Christ have to do with money.  Half of the parables.  He should have known better, but money was his doom.  He loved money more than he loved Jesus.  Eventually it led him to hate Jesus.  He sold the savior for $100, and his own salvation along with it.

What do we learn from Judas?  How much do you love money and all it can buy?  Has it become your God, the thing you look to save you?  Repent now before it's too late.

We are fortunate that we have the forgiveness of Jesus, that Judas' betrayal brought about our pardon.

It's up to us to use money and all God's gifts for God's purposes.  We have the opportunity to help the poor, support the ministry of Jesus among us, and be a blessing to others as God has blessed us.

Copyright 1998-2011 James F. Wright. All rights reserved.

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