1. It would do us well to give Judas his own session. Last year “The Gospel of Judas” made a huge splash which seems to have died out today. Judas in the Gospels plays an important part in the story and casts even a longer shadow in the history of the church. Let’s see what we can find out.
2. “Judas” is the Greek version of the Hebrew name “Judah”. It was a very popular name in the first century probably more from the fame of Judas Maccabaeus who overthrew the Syrian lords who controlled Judea.
3. There is no end to seeking the back story on Judas. The intrigue begins with his name. Does “Iscariot” refer to:
a. Man of Kerioth: the place he was from
b. Man of the lie
d. Sicarii: the Dagger Bearer: a member of the Zealots
4. Judas in the list of the disciples is already noted as the one who would betray Jesus. This of course is not known by the disciples until the revelation at the Lord’s Supper. The only other reference to him is that he holds the common purse. John calls him a thief and a lover of money. Now the back stories begin.
a. Judas as zealot. Judas desired Jesus to overthrow the Romans. Jesus’ actions on the Temple mount made it clear he would not use violence to overthrow the Romans. Jesus then becomes a threat and should be taken care of.
b. Judas was upset with Jesus over the ointment incident. Jesus was clearly too soft and inconsistent as shown by allowing the woman to anoint him. Jesus is then a threat and should be handled.
c. Judas as money hungry. He loved money and Jesus was his opportunity to get some. Would he betray him for only 30 pieces of silver? A man motivated merely by profit surely have gotten a much better deal, or Matthew used the symbolic amount for an injured slave of Zech 11:12.
d. Judas as would-be Messiah. Jesus was too soft. Judas would rub him out and take his place.
e. Gnostic Gospel of Judas: Judas as Jesus’ closest friend who is ordered by Jesus to do this so that Jesus would be free of his evil body (for Gnostics all things material were evil) and could escape the world.
5. Option e is clearly out. Modern authors who wish to excite those who hope for a new revelation to upend the church might grasp for it but no one serious really takes it seriously. There is no way we will answer this question based on what we have in the Bible. What do we know?
6. Luke says that “Satan entered into Judas”. John also mentions Satan’s involvement in Judas’ work (Jn 13:27). Why his mention here? Why not in Matthew and Mark? Any thoughts?
7. What ought we to make of Judas?