How could he do that?

How could someone see what Judas saw and do what he did?

What went wrong?

Mark offers no explanation, only this brief statement:

Then Judas Iscariot, who was one of the twelve, went to the chief priests in order to betray him to them. And when they heard it, they were glad and promised to give him money. And he sought an opportunity to betray him (Mark 14:10-11).

Some have suggested he was motivated by greed, that he simply wanted the money.

Others have written—more convincingly, I think—that he became disillusioned with the Lord’s mission. When he realized Jesus wasn’t the kind of king he thought he’d be, he gave up on the cause.

Regardless, it’s heart-breaking.

How could someone given so much mess it up so badly?

It’s hard to learn from Judas’ story. We’ll never be in his situation, so we won’t betray Jesus as Judas did, not in the same way.

But perhaps what he did should make us ask this question: how are we using the opportunities God has given us?

Many of us grew up in environments where we learned about Jesus as children.

Others didn’t hear the gospel until you were older.

But God has given us all the privilege of knowing Jesus—who he is, what he did, what he wants.

Billions of people in the world have never had that opportunity.

Sometimes I’m tempted to look at someone who’s squandered tremendous gifts and feel a little self-righteous.

I’d never grumble like the Israelites . . . I’d never deny like Peter . . . I’d never betray like Judas.

But the great failures of the Bible ought to make us introspective, not self-righteous.

We should be grateful, not critical.

Truth is, there’s a little Judas in all of us, I suppose. Times when we take our eyes off Jesus and glance at the silver in the bag.

John tells us that the devil put betrayal into the heart of Judas (13:2).

Aren’t you thankful God has kept Satan from grabbing your heart like that?

2 thoughts on “How could he do that?”

  1. I have often wondered and been asked the same. May I offer a thought? The reason Judas may have done it may very well have been BECAUSE of what he saw.  Let me explain.  Judas had witnessed Jesus get out of many a tight spot in the previous three years.  In Luke 4:29 Jesus escaped those who wanted to cast him headlong off a cliff.  In John 8:59 He escaped stoning.  Certainly there were other dangerous situations where Jesus escaped harm or death.

    Perhaps Judas believed that Jesus would “pull a Houdini” and escape the Jews once again.  He would lead the Jews to Jesus, Jesus would escape, Judas would be richer, and no one would be the wiser.  When one reads Matthew 27:3, it appears (at least to me) that Judas was surprised to see Jesus still in custody and condemned to die.  Perhaps it didn’t turn out as he planned.

    Obviously not excusing Judas, but just a thought on what may have been his thought process.

    Great piece!  Keep em coming!

    1. Thanks, Todd. That’s a neat thought . . . It would certainly explain what happens in Matthew 27 — like you said, Judas seems to have been surprised that his betrayal led to Jesus’ death. I’ve always assumed that he just hadn’t really thought through what would happen after he led them to Jesus in Gethsemane, and he regretted what he had done. Either way, it’s a terrible tragedy.

      Thanks for taking the time to respond. 

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