The worst thing Judas did wasn’t betraying Jesus

The worst thing Judas did wasn’t betraying Jesus, because someone had to betray Jesus “to fulfill the scripture; ‘He who shares my bread has lifted up his heel against me,'” John 13:18. Jesus was quoting Psalm 41:9, and David’s lament that “Even my close friend, whom I trusted, he who shared my bread, has lifted up his heel against me,” a probable reference to Ahithophel, David’s personal confidante and “counselor” (2 Samuel 15:12), who joined Absalom’s rebellion against David.

Jesus lifted that scripture from Psalms to predict that someone was going to betray him, just like Ahithophel betrayed David. Jesus knew who that someone was too, as early as John 6:70-71, when he told his disciples, “Have I not chosen you, the Twelve? Yet one of you is a devil (He meant Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot).” Jesus also knew that Judas’ betrayal of him would be the devil’s doing, and in John 13:2, “the devil had already prompted Judas Iscariot, son of Simon, to betray Jesus.” So it all happened exactly as Jesus knew it would: the betrayal, who would do the betraying, and who inspired it. Judas’ betrayal of Jesus, therefore, wasn’t the worst thing in the world; it was, in fact, fulfilling a necessary part in the Father’s plan, and it didn’t shock Jesus at all when it happened.

The worst thing Judas did was to commit suicide after it happened, because he didn’t have to. In Matthew 27:3-4, “he was seized with remorse and returned the thirty silver coins to the chief priests and elders. ‘I have sinned,’ he said, ‘for I have betrayed innocent blood.'” When he realized what he’d done he repented, publicly admitted his fault, and he tried to make amends by returning the money. And when the priests wouldn’t take the money back “Judas threw the money into the temple and left,” verse 5. Even Judas’ biggest problem, his love for money, disappeared.

Unfortunately, Judas then “went away and hanged himself.” I say “unfortunately,” because there were other people just as responsible for Jesus’ death as Judas was, but they didn’t kill themselves, and nor did they need to. When Peter yelled out: “Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ” in Acts 2:36, he didn’t tell all those guilty of crucifying Christ to go away and commit suicide, even though they’d killed Christ too. Their sin was just as bad as Judas’ sin, but Peter simply told them to “Repent,” verse 38.

But Judas HAD repented. He’d done what Peter said. Killing himself, therefore, was the worst thing Judas did, because his repentance, just like Israel’s repentance, would have been accepted.

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