“Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, one of you will betray me …” Mark 14:18 (NIV)
Who was Judas Iscariot? We don’t know much. His surname Iscariot was probably a combination of the Hebrew words Ish and Kariot, which mean “Man of Kariot”. He was a disciple of Jesus, the appointed treasurer of the twelve, and a thief, stealing from that very same treasury. But worse than being a thief, Judas was a betrayer. He betrayed his closest friend, Jesus Christ, to one of the most horrible deaths imaginable.
Now why did Judas betray Christ? Several reasons have been postulated: Judas was the only non Galilean in the group. Maybe he grew bitter being the odd man out. Or it may be that he turned crowns evidence to save his own skin. Then again, he may have done it out of greed. The thirty pieces of silver would have been worth about $10, 000.00 today. People have killed for less!
On a deeper level it may be that Judas came to hate Christ because he couldn’t hide his inner self from Him and felt the only way out was to destroy the One who looked into the darkest corners of his heart. Or it may be that Judas’ last name wasn’t a derivative of the Hebrew Ish Kariot but a form of the Greek word that meant “Dagger Bearer.” The Dagger Bearers were a band of violent nationalists who were prepared to use every means available to free Palestine from Roman rule. Perhaps Judas had set his hopes on a Messiah who would deliver the Jews from their oppressors. When it appeared this was not to be, in bitter disappointment he betrayed Him.
Personally I think the most likely explanation is that Judas never intended for Jesus to die but hoped to force his hand so that He would use His power to liberate Israel.
Judas Iscariot; friend, confidant, disciple, treasurer, traitor. How it must have broken Jesus heart when Judas stepped out of the crowd of those who came to arrest Him, and betrayed Him with a kiss.
And how it must break Jesus’ heart every time we betray Him. While we don’t betray Jesus with a literal kiss we sometimes betray Him in our hearts and by our actions. Yes, sadly there’s a bit of Judas in most of us . . .
Forgive us Jesus for the times we’ve pledged our love to You yet betrayed You by divided loyalties, mixed motives, loose living, and a lukewarm faith.