Judas Iscariot (the apostle who betrayed Jesus)

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Judas Iscariot (the apostle who betrayed Jesus)

  • Peterssen: Judas Iscariot

Judas Iscariot (the apostle who betrayed Jesus)

As is the case with some of the other Apostles, not much is known of the background of Judas other than he came from Judea and was the son of Simon Iscariot. I found two schools of thought regarding his surname of ‘Iscariot’ – one associates it with the town of ‘Kerioth’ in Southern Judea from which the family supposedly came – the other, that his family were terrorists and that ‘Iscariot’ comes from a Greek word meaning ‘dagger’ and thus would have been appropriately chosen as the ‘family’ or ‘sur’ name. Regarding his personal appearance – while most artists are inclined to depict him as pretty much of a villainous-looking person, there is also the thought that he was probably rather ordinary looking and quite possibly projected in his appearance what seemed to be a pleasant, friendly personality.

Now to the Bible and what it tells us.

Trying to imagine myself as an on-the-scene observer here is how I might well have reacted to Judas Iscariot—

Knowing he was chosen by Jesus to be an Apostle (Mat 10:4-Mk 3:19-Luke 6:16), I assumed potential for greatness.

Although I had heard he was ‘treasurer’ for the Apostles, when he objected to money being spent on “costly perfumed oil: to anoint the feet of Jesus (John 12:5), I became suspicious of his priorities.

When he sought out the chief priests and made a deal with them (Mat 26:14 & Lk 22:3), I was shocked, reluctant to believe and tried to rationalize his plan.

When, at the Last Supper, he asked Jesus, “Surely, it is not I, Rabbi? (Mat 26:25)j, I was struck by his arrogance.

When Jesus saw him in the Garden of Gethsemane, knew why he was there and still called him “Friend” (Mt 26:50), my heart cried.

When he gave Jesus that identifying kiss of betrayal (Mk 14:45), I was momentarily numbed in disbelief and then frustrated with helpless rage.

When hearing of his despair and his suicidal death (Mat 27:5), in my human weakness, I felt neither sorrow nor compassion.