Study 4 JUDAS ISCARIOT: HIS TERRIBLE BETRAYAL
(Scripture Portion: Acts 1: 15-26)
The story of Judas is one of the sad stories in the Bible. We think of Cain, who slew his brother (Genesis 4:1-10); of David, who committed the two-fold sin of adultery and murder (2 Samuel 11:1-27); of the Rich Young Ruler and his refusal (Luke 18:18-25); of Ananias and Sapphira, who committed the sin of deception (Acts 5:1-11) - but the saddest story of all is that of Judas Iscariot, for his story and his end are full of ignominy and shame. The history of this man is told in the four gospels, and it is gathered up in the first chapter of Acts, verses 15-26. We shall confine our study to a consideration of this latter portion.
1. Judas never was a converted man.
Always remember that the story of Judas is not the story of a backslider. Acts 1:25 tells us that Judas “left” - but he did not leave being a Christian, for he never was one. He left his privileged office and position among the apostles. To be safe in the “hand” of the Father and of the Saviour is to be safe, secure for ever! - look up John 10:28-29. Judas never knew this security which belongs only to those who are saved - look up John 6:70 and 17:12.
2. Jesus knew all about Judas when He chose him.
As a matter of fact, the choice of Judas and also the betrayal were prophesied in the Old Testament (Acts 1:16, and compare Psalm 41:9 and Psalm 109:1-8). What a mystery it is that our Lord chose Judas - John 2:25; 6:64 and 70! But then, it surely is a mystery that He should have chosen us! There are many things we do not understand, and this is surely one of them. The truth enshrined in John 13:7 helps us in this connection.
3. Judas was chosen as one of the Twelve.
Acts 1:17 tells us this, and it indicates that Judas was a man of special privilege. He was one of the inner circle who knew the Lord most intimately and who listened most frequently to His teaching. He was the treasurer in the apostolic band (John 13:29), and he was evidently fully respected and completely trusted until the time of his terrible betrayal.
4. Judas sold the Lord for a paltry sum of money.
Read Acts 1:18, and compare Matthew 26:15 and 24; 27:5, 9-10. All this was a fulfilment of Zechariah 11:12-13. Many have sold our Lord Jesus Christ for far less. It is most important that we get our priorities right. If we put Christ first, then all will be well – look up Matthew 6:33.
5. Judas betrayed Jesus with a kiss.
Read Acts 1:16 and compare Matthew 26:47-49. Here we see how sin gains momentum and reveals the depths of wretchedness that lurk in the human heart - look up Jeremiah 17:9.
6. Filled with remorse, Judas hanged himself.
Read Acts 1:18, and compare Matthew 27:3-5. What a dreadful thing to happen to one who had enjoyed close friendship and fellowship with the Lord Jesus!
7. Judas went “to where he belonged”.
That is a solemn expression in Acts 1:25, and it can only refer to Hell, the end of a Christless life, the final destiny of all who reject the Saviour. Judas was not lost because he committed suicide, but because of his rejection of the Lord Jesus - look up John 5:40.
That is a brief account of the story of Judas. What lessons are we to learn from it?
- Right environment and spiritual privileges alone do not produce changed hearts. No-one could have been more privileged than Judas, yet after over three years of opportunity his heart was unchanged. There are many who have had the environment of a Christian home and a keen evangelical church who are nevertheless still unsaved - look up Jeremiah 8:20. It is sadly possible to be associated with the Lord Jesus, to hear His words and see His power and yet to be ultimately lost.
- There is no salvation in moral living. Outwardly Judas was a good living man. Even his colleagues did not suspect that he would betray the Lord, as we learn from Mark 14:18-19; in fact, they chose him to be their treasurer! - look up Titus 3:5. Good people need to be saved every bit as much as bad people - look up Luke 18:9-14.
- What a small value men put upon the Lord Jesus! In today’s sterling currency the equivalent would be just a few pounds. Many have sold Him for less than that!
- One sin unrepented of may lead to a Christ-less eternity. Judas was covetous and he was a hypocrite, but beyond that he was not known as a notorious sinner. One sin may keep a person out of Heaven (Proverbs 28:13).
- Opportunities and warnings persistently spurned lead to final disaster. Could anyone have had more opportunities of believing upon the Lord Jesus and trusting Him as Saviour than Judas? Yet he refused them, and committed the sin for which there is no forgiveness - wilful, persistent and final rejection of Christ - look up Proverbs 29:1.
- When we die we shall all go to the place prepared for us. Compare John 14:1-3 with Acts 1:25 - and look up Matthew 25:41. It must be Heaven or Hell for everyone.
- All of us are known for something. What a terrible verse Acts 1:19 is! It refers to a permanent memorial of Judas’ inglorious act. In contrast with this read Mark 14:3-9. How patient the Lord was with Judas! He knew all along that Judas would betray Him. How patient and loving He is towards us! Have we responded to His love?