By Elizabeth Prata
How often we see in the Bible warnings about greed or attachment to money, and how it corrupts. After all, we read in 1 Timothy 6:10, “For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.”
The prime example mentioned in the verse of ‘those who have wandered away from the faith’ is Judas.
Judas was “the epitome of failure,” said John MacArthur. “With the same opportunity that the others had, he failed.“
Judas was a greedy man. He is also a thief. What was Judas’ motivation for joining such a poor group as the disciples? They had no place to lay their head, and few funds upon which to exist. We know that Judas was greedy, but his greed didn’t seem to be present in the beginning or as substantial until later, when he took to thievery. Maybe Judas was waiting for his payday in hitching his wagon to Jesus and His band of roving students. In fact, Judas’ greed was so submerged in pietist behavior that even on the last day in the Upper Room when Jesus announced He would be betrayed, none of the other disciples pointed to Judas. They suspected themselves before pointing to Judas as the betrayer.
Judas’ behavior was so above-board, that he was given the role of treasurer of the disciples’ purse, but he stole from it, records John 12:6. His descent into greed, thievery, and treachery seems to have been gradual but sure. This paragraph from John MacArthur is a sobering warning for all of us. We possess the same sin-nature as Judas.
He followed the same Christ as the others, saw the same miracles as the others, performed the same ministries as the others, was esteemed among men the same as the others, but, he did not become what his fellows became. While they were growing into true apostles, saints of God, he was progressively developing into a vile, calculating instrument of Satan.John MacArthur, A CHARACTER ANALYSIS Of JUDAS ISCARIOT, A Thesis Presented to the faculty of the Department or English Bible Talbot Theological Seminary
Jesus called Judas the “son of perdition” (John 17:12) and “a devil” (John 6:70), so with that, it seems the germ of Judas’ apostasy was always present and inhibited his spiritual growth toward the light, and instead steered Judas to the dark.
The cords of love by which Jesus gradually drew the hearts of the other disciples to Himself, the teaching by which He uplifted their souls above all earthly things, were as chafing bonds to the selfishness of Judas. And from his fettered greed and disappointed ambition sprang jealousy and spite and hatred.C. M. Kerr, The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
Whatever Judas’ hopes were when he joined the disciples, three years later those hopes were now waning. Maybe Judas had expected Jesus to become an earthly King and saw that it was not going to happen. Or, perhaps Judas had expected more glory and honor showered onto Jesus and His band than the hatred, reviling, and mocking that they often endured. Whatever the reason, after years of waiting, Judas had apparently come to the conclusion that things were not working out the way he had hoped.
What was the precipitating event that caused Judas to finally and eternally turn from righteousness and give in to his flesh rife with greed and hatred? The scene is in Bethany, six days before Passover. Matthew 26, John 12, and Mark 14 are the parallel accounts. They are at the house of Simon the Leper. A woman enters Simon’s house and proceeds to anoint the head of Jesus with expensive perfume, kept in an alabaster vial (box/flask).
Another alabaster vial account is in Luke 7:36-50. These verses are not all parallel to each other. There are two separate perfume anointing incidents. The incident in Luke occurred halfway through Jesus’ ministry and because he taught a parable, its focus is more on forgiveness than preparation for Jesus’ burial, as Jesus stated the incidents in Mark, John and Matthew were.
A huge commotion results when this woman pours out her perfume. The disciples erupt in indignance, rebuking the woman for this ‘waste’. The passage doesn’t identify Judas as being specifically the one who was indignant at the ‘waste’ of the potential of selling it for 300 denarii and given to the poor. Both passages just record that “some were indignant,” and as a result, the woman received a scolding.
Both the Matthew 26 and Mark 14 passages note that Jesus then interceded, saying that her act is a good deed and told the men to leave her alone. He said “She did it to prepare for my burial.”
But these two passages note that immediately after, it was Judas who departed the scene and went to the chief priests with intent to betray Jesus.
MacArthur notes, “He had cast his lot with an unpopular cause, Iived in constant danger and opposition, labored in difficulty, and had nothing but the barest necessities of life for sustenance.” (MacArthur Thesis A Character Analysis of Judas Iscariot)
And now Jesus was talking of His burial?! Judas must have been thinking, ‘When does it get good?!’
Judas had had enough! He went to the chief priests. Bethany was only 1.75 miles from Jerusalem, so it would have been easy for Judas to slip out, cement his hellish bargain with the priestly hypocrites, and return to the group without them suspecting. Of course, Jesus knew. He knows what is in a man.
And that is the lesson. We all possess a sin-nature the same as Judas. Judas became the most despicable man in all of history past and future. However, that doesn’t mean we don’t have nearly that same potential. Instead, we must ensure that we are saved by grace through faith alone, and that we possess the Holy Spirit to aid us in slaying that sin nature in our long walk of sanctification.
If not, we may be as Judas. His proximity to Jesus didn’t help him. His viewing of Jesus’ miracles and healings didn’t help him. Judas’ ministry along with the other disciples didn’t help him. Hearing the Gospel over and over didn’t help him. The only thing that helps us in our eternal problem of our sin & separation from Holy God is our repentance of our sin and appealing to Jesus as Lord and Savior.
Eleven disciples became softened by the words and ministry of Jesus. One became hardened. He was hardened in his greed. Avarice became all to Judas.
Let us be like Moses.
By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, 25 choosing rather to endure ill-treatment with the people of God than to enjoy the temporary pleasures of sin, 26 considering the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt; for he was looking to the reward. (Hebrews 11:24-26).
Moses waited for his reward. He knew even a reproach from Jesus is better than all the earthly riches one could pile up. And Moses should know! Egypt was wealthy and Moses lived in the midst of it.
Judas impatiently sought his reward too soon, in the form of 30 pieces of silver. Once he had them in his hand, he found that they burned his conscience. They did not satisfy. He threw them back to the priests- but it was too late. (Matthew 27:1-5). Judas went out and hanged himself. The son of perdition was now in perdition.
Our reward is Jesus. Mary who anointed Jesus’ feet with expensive pure nard from her alabaster jar (John 12) knew that. To Mary, Jesus was the most precious and beloved. Her act was an appropriate way to display due honor and unreserved devotion to Jesus, the Messiah.