Matthew 20:17-19 (Judas’ Expectations)

Recall the context: Jesus is on His final journey to Jerusalem and has just stated plainly that He would be betrayed to the Jewish religious leaders who would condemn Him to death and deliver Him to the Gentiles who would “mock and scourge and crucify Him”, but on the third day He would be raised up.  Now consider Judas Iscariot in this context: he had witnessed Jesus’ miracles and even experienced the power of His kingdom by exercising authority over unclean spirits, casting out demons and healing the sick (Mat 10:1).  Like the rest of the twelve he really believed Jesus was the Messiah, and not unlike us believed He would establish a political kingdom through a dazzling manifestation of His power after the manner of the world.  Not unlike the other disciples he had no comprehension of the literal meaning of Jesus’ plain and repeated warnings of what would happen in Jerusalem as the real means by which His heavenly kingdom would be established (Luk 19:34).  And like them he too was jockeying for position in the kingdom that he supposed Christ would establish (see Mat 20:20-21,24).  However, there was a part of his heart that was darker than the other disciples, being motivated by greed (Joh 12:6).  Because he was entrusted with the money box (Joh 13:29), he perhaps also harbored a subtle pride (not unlike what we ourselves might sometimes feel) that he was more worldly-wise than the rest.  Considering the disciples’ incomprehension of Jesus’ plain warning that He had spoken of at least five times, especially in regard to Him literally being crucified and rising from the dead (cf. Luk 9:23 which can only be understood figuratively), how might Judas have understood His words?  Is it possible that the subtle darkness of his heart and greed for gain after the manner of the world completely deceived him to interpret Jesus’ words not as what would literally happen, but as a directive about the means by which the kingdom he supposed Jesus was going to establish would come about—specifically that one would “betray” Jesus to His enemies in order to create an occasion for Him to manifest His power?  Cf. Jesus’ words to Judas in Joh 13:27 and think: did Judas betray Jesus with what we often think of as completely evil intent out of pure greed for the 30 pieces of silver he received, totally convinced that Jesus was not the Messiah and doing it just to enrich himself?  See Mat 27:3-4.  Did Judas ever cease being “religious” on the outside so that the other disciples even suspected him?  See Joh 13:21-22.  But did he have the true nature and pure character of God in his heart?  What does this teach us about the great and terrible danger of our subtle, secret sins, and how they deceive us from true righteousness to expedience, even to the point of justifying evil as good, so that we pursue a way that seems right to us but in the end it leads to death?  Cf. Isa 5:20-21, Pro 14:12.  Also in this light, what do we learn that Luke means when he writes that “Satan entered into Judas” (Luk 22:3, see also Joh 13:2,27): that Judas experienced demonic manifestations, or that God gave him completely over to a deluding influence in accordance with the deceitfulness of his own heart, in order that he might believe and act upon a lie that would ultimately destroy him?  Cf. Psa 18:25-26, 2Th 2:9-12.  And again, who are those who are most full of the devil: those whose sins are plain to see and who outwardly manifest the nature of Satan, or those who have a form of godliness and are deceived to believe they are serving God, when in their heart of hearts they are unrepentant of their love for the world and cling to its vain pleasures?  See 2Co 11:13-15.  Is then the goal of our Christian walk to just clean up the outside with a religious veneer?  See 1Ti 1:5.  What then must be our prayer and heart’s desire?  See Job 31:6, Psa 26:2, 139:23-24.  Because our hearts are impure, what must we allow the Lord to do?  See Zec 13:9, Mal 3:2-3.  Are we like Judas?  In spite of our outward profession of faith, is there a darkness in a part of our heart that deceives us to believe we are serving God, when in fact He is giving us over to believe a lie that our heart is in agreement with?  What impact should such an understanding have upon us?  See Ecc 12:13-14, 2Co 7:1, Rev 14:6-7.  How does this help us understand why the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom and how important it is to obey God’s commandments even when it seems expedient to do otherwise?  Cf. Psa 111:10.

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