Judas, John & Jesus
Of all the characters in Scripture, the most tragic is surely Judas. He is the One described by Jesus as the "son of destruction". Gospel Number 4 explains Judas in some depth. To guard against treachery in matters of the Kingdom it will be good to ask the question "Why did Iscariot betray Christ?"
Being treasurer of the church just proved too much for Judas. His keen eye for cash revealed a heart of greed and theft. This came to light when precious nard was cracked. His indignation was sparked by his money running out to anoint the body of Christ. This certainly was a case of "methinks thou protesteth too much!"
5 "Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?" 6 He said this, not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief, and having charge of the moneybag he used to help himself to what was put into it - John 12:5-6.
The others in the room probably dismissed his loot-love seemingly well-meaning, thoughtful, prudent, money-manager, antics as authentic concern for the poor (it was nothing of the sort!). There may even have been some who nodded in approval and were confirmed in their blind prejudice by the mopping up operations. Mary they imagined had lost the run of herself. So skilled had Judas become at putting on a mask, that for a few nearly a week he became, among the twelve, the "champion-elect of the poor". Did other disciples feel a little bit thoughtless and unkind when they heard this social-justice rebuke? It was only Christ who knew the truth behind this deceptive "play-act".
Before the Supper interlude, the devil & Judas were already in cahoots: it seems better to take "his heart" as a reference to Iscariot, not the Tempter. Treacherous thoughts were already swirling round his brain - with the Passover coming about and conspiracy afoot, now was the time to act, and he must seek the right moment. All must be done under the cloak and dagger of night. At just the right morsel-moment, Satanic suggestion became Satanic possession in this minister of Christ!
2 During supper, when the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, to betray him... 27 Then after he had taken the morsel, Satan entered into him. Jesus said to him, "What you are going to do, do quickly" - John 13:2, 27.
It is only by the grace freely given by the Spirit that the war waged against true believers can be resisted: we are totally dependant on God's help in Christ to turn the tide of temptation when it surges like a flood. Judas did not have the indwelling presence of God: his self-interested, self-preserving, self-serving lusts lost their attraction to the advantage of serving Christ - they moved their center of gravity towards pieces of silver which he now reckons has more profit. No flood defences had been erected in His soul! The billows of badness now sweep the false-believer-betrayer away.
How often Judas had preached like a Spurgeon or sung like a David, working miracles for the sick and doing wonders for the crowds. This was a Christian ministry in which he shared for a time. Yet his own cold-shouldered response to the faith once-for-all delivered to the saints was the sort characteristic of most of the crowds in John (at best): persistent, half-hearted, superficial, undecided, wavering neglect, skepticism and finally entrenched, recalcitrant, unbelief - the truth was never applied, sin was never renounced - the would-be apostate apostle remained stubbornly impenitent. Judas had never been truly united to Christ. He tasted the powers of the age to come, but only outwardly, superficially and formally - not savingly, internally or spiritually. He became like hardened wax, refusing to be warmed, and when he took the morsel, his heart petrified into cement.
Of all the Gospel writers John goes into the greatest depth. He traces the origins of the Lord Jesus back to his roots, in the prehistory of the triune interrelations of the pre-incarnate Logos. In spite of the use liberals make of the divine love (and their distaste for election unless of the ne0-orthodox, universalistic, sort), no other evangelist is so deeply, thoroughly, and explicitly predestinarian as John. An air of sovereign power surrounds Christ's closing hour - nobody takes His life: He is sovereign King of all. And as Mediator of the elect, He is sanctioned to lay life down and later take it up again, by His own power. When men try to arrest Him, Jesus speaks, so guards fall back. Though not stated at this point (this also must have been true), Satan now entered Judas because He was granted permission from Christ. Judas was glad to drop His guard (that Christ now removed), in unbelief, that God's purpose might be fulfilled.
12 While I was with them, I kept them in your name, which you have given me. I have guarded them, and not one of them has been lost except the son of destruction, that the Scripture might be fulfilled - John 17:12.
As the verse just quoted above suggests, all this was written of Jesus and His betrayal by Judas. A key Old Testament text was cited by Christ earlier, in 13:2, which probably fits quite well with David's betrayal by trusted counsellor Ahithophel. The son of Jesse was a prophetic mouthpiece - in His union with Christ, and by Holy Spirit prevision, he lamented, in types and shadows, of the treachery done to Messiah.
18 I am not speaking of all of you; I know whom I have chosen. But the Scripture will be fulfilled, 'He who ate my bread has lifted his heel against me.' 19 I am telling you this now, before it takes place, that when it does take place you may believe that I am he - John 13:18-19.
Our Savior also unveils marks of divinity in this text: not only does he understand the proper meaning of this Scripture, as completed by Christ's death. He also predicts that the identity of the betrayer is Judas, so that His chosen apostles will later know that Jesus is Yahweh, I AM, God-Man in the flesh. Long ago, before the world was formed, the Father had purposed, as David revealed in the Psalm, that Jesus would be betrayed by the treacherous, now-tagged, Judas Iscariot. What marvellous depths of paternal love are revealed, by the Spirit, in the giving of His Son into the hands of wicked men - all according to His eternal plan - to shed the blood of the immaculate Lamb for the lost sheep of God's flock.
It is hard to mention this subject, the darker side of election. If we take the prayer of our Great High Priest as authoritative, his statement in 17:2-3 clearly implies Judas was not one of God's sheep, for whom Jesus would shortly shed His blood.
2 since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. 3 And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent - John 17:2-3.
Our Lord simply cannot lose any sheep upon whom God sets his love - all respond to His voice because they belong to His flock (or indeed the other gentile fold), sovereignly hand-picked in advance, by sheer predestining grace.
26 "...but you do not believe because you are not among my sheep. 27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand. 30 I and the Father are one" - John 10:26-30
God, in his justice, for the sin of Judas, both original and actual, passed the Iscariot by, and justly reprobated him.
Were God to withhold (common but especially) saving grace from us, remove the guard by which He shields our souls through faith, and retake or not bestow the regenerating and sanctifying Spirit that resists war-waging flesh, all of us would succumb to Satan like Judas.
Does natural depravity and inability not extend to, and pervade, the total adamic personality?
Is it any wonder we, in the manner of Judas, having the seeds of Christ-treachery still lurking in our hearts (and scattered around our steps), are quick to loose our grip on truth or dumb-down morals if it suits or costs?
Let us always keep our guard up to watch and pray lest we fall into temptation. Let us never forget the amazing grace of God which keeps us from treachery and instead breeds within us loyalty - redemption, and its fruit, in all its magnificent parts is a gift of sheer grace from the triune heart of love: let us raise choirs of eternal praise, to the Most Wise God, in view of the fact that one betrayer was chosen to seal the Covenant of blessing in the blood of Christ for many. Fear, bow, sing. Repent of defections. Raise your guard. Receive the truth. Believe in Christ.