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15. The disciples

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 to fall.

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') 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 doctrine. 

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.