15.10 Jesus and Judas
The Lord's relationship with Judas is one of the clearest indications
of his humanity, as well as his method of reasoning from the Scriptures
and his limited knowledge. There is evidence to indicate that Judas
was one of the most spiritual of the disciples, and as such among
those closest to Jesus. He was " Mine own familiar friend,
in whom I trusted" (Ps. 41:9); and the Hebrew for " trusted"
means 'a place of going for refuge', as if he sought Judas' company
in times of pressure. Of few men would Jesus say " A man mine
equal, my guide, and mine acquaintance" (Ps. 55:13). "
Acquaintance" implies a close friend through sharing of knowledge,
showing their relationship was based around spiritual things. The
LXX renders "guide" as "a man of my own mind"
, and seeing Christ's mind was like God's (Phil. 2:5-7) this was
quite a statement. The Hebrew for "guide" means a leader
(Prov. 2:17; 16:28; Jer. 3:4; 61 times out of 70 it implies a superior),
indicating that our Lord was influenced by men and was prepared
to listen and learn from them (1).
Here we see His humanity and yet also His need for strengthening.
"We took sweet counsel together" (Ps. 55:14) implies
an assembly or sitting down on conference (the same word is in Prov.
15:22; Ps. 83:3: Jer. 15:17 with this usage), suggesting that our
Lord sat down in discussion with Judas, as David used to with Ahithophel.
They " walked unto the house of God in company" (Ps. 55:14),
giving the picture of the two of them slightly apart from the twelve
as they journeyed to keep the feasts, deep in stimulating spiritual
conversation. Judas, the one who rose the highest, had the furthest
This verse is almost repeated in Ps. 42:4: "When I remember these
things, I pour out my soul in me: for I had gone with the multitude, I
went with them to the house of God, with the voice of joy and praise,
with a multitude that kept holyday" . What was true of Judas was
thus also true of Israel in general; in the same way as the pronouns used
about Judas merge from singular into plural in Ps. 55:13-15 ("a
man mine equal... let death seize upon them"), as also in Ps. 109:3
cp. v.8. Similarly the condemnation of Jewry for crucifying Christ in
Ps. 69:25 ("let their habitation be desolate") is quoted in
the singular about Judas in Acts 1:20. I have given more examples of Judas
being the embodiment of the Jews in In Search Of Satan Appendix
1. Thus the description of our Lord going up in joyful fellowship to keep
the feasts with the Jews in Ps. 42:4 is parallel to him doing so with
Judas in Ps. 55:14. This would imply that Christ thought almost over positively
of the Jews in the same way as he did of Judas, and this was a great source
of depression for him when he fully realized in the garden that His hopefulness
for them had come to nothing ("My soul is cast down within me", Ps. 42:6 cp.v.4). This depression is elaborated in Is. 49:4-6 as being
due to Christ's failure to lead Israel to repentance. Jesus therefore
appears to have hopefully over-estimated the Jews' spirituality, as well
as that of Judas- whilst at the same time realistically seeing them for
who they were (this paradox is commented upon in some detail in Samson).
This was how Paul treated Corinth, and it must be how we too view our
brethren- strongly hopefully and positively, and yet realistically.
For Judas to do what he did his previous spirituality must have been
a guise to some degree, although the Psalms previously quoted indicate
that our Lord accepted the genuine part of Judas and was inspired by him.
But we can understand his deep depression when finally faced with the
reality that " the words of his mouth were smoother than butter,
but war was in his heart: his words were softer than oil, yet were they
drawn swords" (Ps. 55:21). Both butter and oil are symbolic of the
word; thus Jesus is here recognizing that Judas' word-based conversation
had been a sham, albeit pleasant to hear at the time. A sombre warning
against using a familiarity with the word to present a spiritual facade
is here sounded(2).
The humble, raw, basic faith and loyalty of the eleven is so vital. The
Lord's lack of total knowledge could explain this apparent lack of total
realization concerning Judas, but I prefer to see it as a positive approach
taken to a sinful man, hoping against hope for his repentance. It has
been suggested that " That thou doest, do quickly" is a reference
to Judas' repentance, which the Lord was hoping for. The impression of
a close spiritual relationship and subsequent shock on appreciating that
Judas was a traitor that we see expressed in the psalms is hard to reconcile
with our Lord knowing Judas' motives from the beginning. Jesus knew from
the beginning that some would betray him: " There are some of you
that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that
believed not, and who should betray him...Therefore said I unto you, that
no man can come unto me, except it were given unto me of my Father"
(Jn. 6:64,65). Our Lord knew that not all were called by God to be able
to come to Him- He knew who would not believe. And yet He suppressed this
knowledge in his love and hope for Judas- just as it could be that God
limits His omnipotence and omniscience in His dealings with us [hence
His sense of hurt, shock and genuine disappointment with human behaviour].
If this passage does imply Christ's knowledge of Judas' intentions (as
Jn. 6:70 seems to), these words were spoken in the final year of the Lord's
ministry, when Christ's sensitive spirit would have noticed the tell tale
signs in Judas. [Or is " He spake of Judas...that should betray him"
(Jn. 6:70) a comment added by John, which would mean that Jesus was not
necessarily thinking of Judas when he said " One of you is a devil"
The record in Jn. 13:18-21 implies that the full recognition about Judas
came home to Christ at the last supper: " I speak not of you all:
I know whom I have chosen (now): but (note the broken sentence structure,
showing the pressure) that the Scripture may be fulfilled, He that eateth
bread with me (a sign of fellowship- shown by Judas joining hands with
Jesus in the dish, Mt. 26:23; Lk. 22:21) hath lifted up his heel against
me(3). Now I tell you (implying he hadn't
been so specific previously about the betrayer) before it come , that,
when it is come to pass, ye may believe that I am he (a reference to Is.
41:23 etc. about Yahweh being God because he foretells the future; the
power of this prophecy made by Christ lay in the fact that it seemed so
unlikely for Judas to be a traitor)...when Jesus had thus said, he was
troubled in spirit, and testified, and said, Verily, verily (as if to
say 'now this really is true')...one of you shall betray me" . Thus
sudden acceptance of the situation explains Christ's fear of Judas as
described in the Messianic Is. 51:12,13: "I, even I, am He that
comforteth you (a reference to Christ's Comforter Angel?): who art thou,
that thou shouldest be afraid of a man that shall die (Judas)... and
forgettest the Lord thy maker?" , which Christ was tempted to do
by his fear of Judas. The shock of David at Ahithophel's unexpected defection
(which forms the primary basis of the Psalms about Judas) must have its
parallel in the Jesus/ Judas relationship.
Micah 7 is a highly detailed prophecy of the Lord's death and sufferings.
Verses 5 and 6 have telling reference to Judas: " Trust ye (Jesus)
not in a friend (" Mine own familiar friend in whom I trusted), put
ye not confidence in a guide: keep the doors of thy mouth from her that
lieth in thy bosom (cp. Samson and Delilah). For the son dishonoureth
the father, the daughter riseth up against her mother, the daughter in
law against her mother in law; a man's enemies are the men of his own
house" . This implies there was a woman associated with Judas whom
Jesus had to guard himself against. If Mary Magdalene was Judas' sister
then this fits into place. The description of family divisions would then
refer to the wrangles in the Judas/ Mary/ Simon/ Lazarus family , with
the likely implication that Judas and Mary were in Christ's natural (extended)
family, as indeed many of the disciples probably were. This would explain
his connections with the family at Bethany from early days.
The Old Testament prophecies also give insight into the actual process
of the betrayal. The Hebrew for "equal" in " a man mine
equal" (Ps. 55:13) is invariably translated elsewhere as 'price'
or 'estimation'; possibly implying that the Jews had set the same price
on Judas' head (in the sense of a bribe offered to them) at one stage
as they had on Jesus. The Jewish satan seeking Peter and the other disciples
("Simon, Satan hath desired to have you", plural, Lk. 22:31)
implies an organized attempt to subvert each of the twelve, perhaps by
offering a financial reward for becoming a secret agent for the Jews.
Judas having an equal price in the Jews' eyes as Jesus indicates how highly
he was seen to rank among the disciples in the public eye- as important
to the Jews as Jesus himself. This further strengthens the impression
that Judas was highly esteemed by both Christ and the other disciples.
It would appear that the love of this money was a significant factor in
Judas' downfall; in the same way as Joseph's brethren were blinded by
a money motive in betraying him rather than being interested in his death
for its own sake. In addition, Judas' motives seem to have also been from
being influenced by the thinking of the Jewish satan, offering the chance
of an immediate Kingdom. He is alluded to in 1 Jn. 2:19 (cp. Jn. 13:30)
as the prototype of all who left the true faith to be influenced by Judaist
Ps. 109:8 is quoted in Acts 1:20 concerning Judas, suggesting that the
preceding v.6 reveals Christ's thoughts about him: " Set Thou
a wicked man over him: and let satan stand at his right hand" , implying
that Jesus prayed for the Jewish satan to help or co-operate with Judas
(which is how the idiom of standing at the right hand is used in Ps. 109:31).
This is tantamount to not praying that Judas would overcome the advances
of the Jews which the Lord would have been aware they were making. But
he could encourage Peter that he had prayed for him to resist these advances
(Lk. 22:32). The whole of Ps. 109 is a prayer requesting the punishment
of Judas, asking God to confirm him in his supreme apostasy: " Let
his prayer become sin" (Ps. 109:7). The last section of the Psalm
(109:22-29) describes Christ's sufferings on the cross in language that
has many connections with Ps.22 and 69; and as with them there is a sudden
breakthrough at the end into looking forward to praising God " among
the multitude" (Ps. 109:30), as there is in Ps. 22:22. This may mean
that it was on the cross that the enormity of Judas' sin was fully realized
by Christ, although he had previously recognized it to some degree before
the cross (Jn. 19:11; Mt. 26:24).
(1) Compare this with Christ's respect
of John, and asking the Pharisees questions in the temple.
(2) Does this mean that Christ did not
have access to the Spirit gift of discerning of spirits (minds) with regard
to Judas (cp. Peter's knowledge of Ananias). Or did He, and yet He ignored
it in His hoping for the best and loving the positive side of Judas?
(3) This implies that Judas had a heel
to crush Christ with, as if Judas was the seed of the woman and Christ
the seed of the serpent due to Christ's close association with sin and
sinners. However, it has also been pointed out that “To show the bottom
of one’s foot to someone in the Near East is a mark of contempt”- E.F.
Bishop, Evangelical Times Vol. 70 p. 331.