If the church were to give awards like the movie industry gives Oscars, I think Judas Iscariot would have won the "best actor" category for all time, because that is what Judas was. He was a phenomenal actor.
As one of the most mysterious and paradoxical people in the Bible, Judas Iscariot was notorious for his wickedness and treachery. You might even say that he was the traitor's traitor. We know that his life ended miserably in suicide because he betrayed the Lord for 30 pieces of silver.
Yet there was more to Judas than that. If we could be transported back in time and observe the 12 disciples, I think most of us would have had a hard time picking out Judas Iscariot.
We tend to envision him as a sinister-looking guy with shifty eyes. But I think He came off as a man who was upright, seemingly very considerate, and devout in his faith.
There are people like Judas in our churches today. They talk the talk. They carry their Bibles. They sing the songs. But underneath, they are phonies. They fool only themselves.
Judas had the privilege of being one of Jesus Christ's 12 disciples — handpicked by the Lord — yet he went and betrayed Him. There was a definite progression — or regression — to Judas' sin, starting with subtle shades of hypocrisy and culminating in full-blown possession by Satan.
Judas could go deeper into sin because he never really knew Jesus. Sure, he knew about Him. He could have even been considered an expert on Jesus, given the fact that he had walked with Him and been with Him in every conceivable circumstance for three years. But Judas never really knew the Lord.
There was a progression, and Judas reached this point of betrayal over a period of time. The Bible says, "There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death" (Proverbs 14:12 NKJV).
Let me give you an example. On one occasion, Jesus went to visit his close friends, Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. Martha saw an opportunity to cook up a fine meal for the Lord. Meanwhile, her sister Mary saw an opportunity to sit at the feet of the Lord and spend time with Him. She wanted to do something significant, profound, and sacrificial for Jesus, so she took a very costly jar of ointment and began to anoint His feet, wiping them with her hair.
As everyone watched this incredible sight, an indignant Judas remarked, "Why was this fragrant oil not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?" (John 12:4 NKJV) That sounded very spiritual, and Mark's Gospel tells us the others even agreed with him and joined in the criticism.
But John's Gospel gives us a significant detail regarding why Judas said what he said: "This he said, not that he cared for the poor, but because he was a thief, and had the money box; and he used to take what was put in it" (12:4 NKJV).
Things are not always as they appear. She who appeared frivolous and extravagant was the spiritual one, while he who appeared thrifty and spiritual wasn't spiritual at all.
Jesus rebuked all of them and said, "Let her alone; she has kept this for the day of My burial. For the poor you have with you always, but Me you do not have always" (vv. 7-8).
This warning went unheeded by Judas, and as we see here, it was Judas' love of earthly things that caused him to betray the heavenly.
Judas had a choice in the matter. He didn't have to betray the Lord. John 13:2 tells us that the devil had already put it in Judas' heart to betray the Lord. He could have resisted this. Instead, he gave in and thus was responsible for his own actions.
Later, Satan actually entered Judas (see Luke 22:3). But prior to this, he had a choice. But he didn't exercise that choice and ended up doing the wrong thing.
On the night that Jesus was betrayed and arrested, two people failed the Lord. One was Judas. The other was Peter. One went out and hung himself. The other — after coming to his senses, going back to the Lord, and seeking His forgiveness — went into the open arms of Jesus.
At the crossroads, Peter and Judas parted ways forever. One went into the light. And the other went into the night.
I love to tell stories—but I especially love to tell stories that point to Jesus. That’s one of the reasons I wrote a book about acting legend Steve McQueen. Steve was the King of Cool, but at the end of his life, he encountered the King of Kings. As a result, an American icon became a child of God. This book is our thank-you gift for your donation to Harvest Ministries today.