On every list in which the disciples of Jesus are named, Simon Peter is placed at the beginning, and Judas Iscariot at the end. (Matthew 10:1-4; Mark 3: 13-19; Luke 6:12-16) The uninitiated will assume that this was always the case- but a closer look at the relationship between Judas and Jesus would challenge the notion that the betrayer was always at the end of the line.
In fact, Judas was probably one of the most trusted of his disciples. Let me explain.
First of all, the name that is transliterated as “Judas,” is actually “Yehuda” in the Hebrew, and equivalent to Judah in the Greek. (http://biblehub.com/greek/2455.htm) Both Judah and Judas are basically the same name. Jesus was a descendant of the tribe of Judah (Mathew 1:1-3), born in Bethlehem, a town belonging to the same. (Micah 5:2) The name “Judas” literally means “thanksgiving” and/or “praise.” How ironic that the Eucharist (which means “thanksgiving”) is equivalent in definition to the name of Judah/Judas.
Judas Iscariot was in charge of the disciples’ money bag. (John 12:4-6) Judas was the administrator of the 12 disciples. Judas was in charge of administrating and properly dispensing the donations that Jesus’ ministry received. (Luke 8:3) On the night in which Jesus was betrayed, the Lord said to Judas:
“What you are about to do, do it quickly.”
Everyone had assumed that Jesus was just simply telling Judas to go give an offering for the poor. But Satan (Satan means “Adversary”) entered Judas when he ate of the morsel that Jesus had given him; for just 30 pieces of silver (the price of a slave- Exodus 21:32), Judas sold his Master.
Bottom line…although Jesus knew that Judas would betray him in the end, he still WANTED to trust him. Jesus hung on a tree for the sins of the world. Judas hung himself on a tree as self-punishment for his sin (Matthew 27:4-5; Acts 1:18-19). Judas could not live with the fact that he had betrayed innocent blood. Judas betrayed his Rabbi, probably because he felt that he was choosing the lesser of two evils, by forcing Jesus to take action and proclaim himself the King of the Jews.
When Judas led the guards to arrest Jesus, he not only greeted Jesus by saying: “Rejoice Rabbi,”he also kissed him. (Matthew 26:49) Its interesting to note that Judas was imitating his Master’s customary greeting by exclaiming “Rejoice!” Not only was Judas imitating his Master, he most likely used to kiss him every time he greeted him. (Luke 22:47-48)
Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?
Most people who meditate on the Passion of Christ, think about the physical wounds that Jesus received, or the burden of sin. These are valid meditations, but the greatest “wound” of Jesus, was the heart-wound that Judas inflicted. Jesus not only died because of the crucifixion…Jesus died of a broken heart.
Two Psalms prophesied the pain that Jesus would feel due to Judas’ betrayal:
Psalm 41:9– Even MY CLOSE FRIEND, whom I trusted, he who shared my bread, has lifted up his heel against me.
Psalm 55:12-14– If an enemy were insulting me, I could endure it; if a foe were raising himself against me, I could hide from him. But it is you, a man like myself, my companion, MY CLOSE FRIEND, with whom I once enjoyed sweet fellowship as we walked with the throng at the house of God.
Funny how things are… I always knew my Judas would betray me, I just didn’t want to believe it. My Judas even said to me once: “I am afraid of the thought that one day I would betray you.” In the end, my Judas chose the “lesser of two evils,” by betraying me to the Cross for the price of a slave.
Oh how sweet it was to love you. How sweet it was to make you the first, even though you had been the last. Your kiss hurt me more than all the insults I have suffered.
I bled so much for you! One cannot but love those for whom we’ve bled so much. Never again will I trust anyone like I trusted you… I should’ve known.
In my presence you met Jesus. In my prayers, you saw Jesus. In my words, you heard Jesus. In the end, you betrayed Jesus.
In spite of your betrayal… my love for you compels me to forgive you. When you get old- and none of your “friends” are there for you, seek me, and you will find me. Ask me, and I will give…Knock at the door of my broken heart…and once again, I will let you in- because that is what Jesus would’ve done for Judas, if he had repented.
But for now, Goodbye… My sweet, lovely Judas.