After predicting for some time that He would be delivered up to the religious leaders to be put to death, here at the Last Supper Jesus has shocked His disciples that He would actually be betrayed by one of them who was closest to Him. His pronouncement deeply grieved them, and caused varying degrees of self-examination and soul searching as they each pondered who it could be, wondering and questioning Him if it might even be they themselves. For just as Jesus knew what was in man (Joh 2:24-25), so those who come to know Him also come to know themselves and their own sinful nature that is capable of such treachery. Although in hindsight we know it was Judas who betrayed Jesus, and so our perception of Him is biased from the start, is it possible that he too recognized his own shortcomings, as did the others, but was just more deceived by his sin than they, justifying that he had scored a nice sum of money from the corrupt religious leaders for Jesus’ cause (of which he as the purse holder would personally benefit), and that Jesus would not really be put to death, but would manifest His power that he had personally witnessed to establish the sort of kingdom they were all expecting? Consider that Judas had a share and office in Jesus’ ministry (Act 1:17,20) with authority to cast out unclean spirits and to heal every kind of sickness and disease (Mat 10:1), so that none of the other disciples suspected him or doubted his loyalty (Luk 22:23, Joh 13:22). Consider also that when Judas saw that Jesus was in fact condemned to death and delivered over to Pilate, he was overcome with remorse, tried to return the money in hopes that he might undo the outcome of his foolishness, and went and hung himself when he realized he could not (Mat 27:3-5). Are such actions those of a cold-hearted traitor who from the start was totally motivated by greed and never had any fealty toward Jesus? Or rather, are they the actions of someone who was deceived by his own greed and worldly ambitions to act in a way that betrayed not only Jesus, but all that he professed to hold dear? Although we tend to imagine Judas as a base criminal of the worst sort who was only in it for the money, and so console ourselves that we are not nearly so bad as he, in what ways do the temptations and deceptions of sin that touched his heart also touch ours, so that we are perhaps not so very different from him as we might suppose? While it is surely grace on God’s part that delivers us from our sins that would cause us to stumble and fall into perdition, what is it on our part that guards our hearts from such deception? See Mat 26:41, 2Th 2:10-12, 1Jo 2:15-17; cf. Joh 12:25.
What does Matthew alone record that Judas also asks Jesus along with the other disciples in regard to His pronouncement that one of them would betray Him? See Mat 26:25. Is it necessarily the case that Judas only asked in order to mimic the other disciples and not draw attention to himself, or is it possible that he was totally deceived by his sin to believe that he was acting boldly and with great faith in Jesus to orchestrate events that would enable Jesus to manifest His power and establish the sort of kingdom they all envisioned? Cf. Luk 22:36-38, Joh 13:26-30. Is it possible that even today, those who follow Christ but whose hearts are not pure and are seeking a worldly kingdom could be just as deceived as Judas, even to the point of betraying Him, even while they suppose they are acting boldly in faith for His cause? In what way are those like this who in Christ’s name war after the manner of the world, such as during the crusades? Cf. Luk 6:27-35.
How did Jesus answer Judas’ question? See Mat 26:25. Was His answer a straight yes or no? I.e., did Jesus say, “Indeed, you’re the one”? Notice that His words are actually the Greek Σὺ εἶπας, that means literally, “You said it”, with emphasis on You; (it is implied and supplied for our English translation). On what other occasions did Jesus answer similarly? See Mat 26:64 (σὺ εἶπας, you said it), Mat 27:11 (σὺ λέγεις, you say it), Luk 22:70 (ὑμεῖς λέγετε ὅτι ἐγώ εἰμι, you (plural) say that I am), Luk 23:3 (σὺ λέγεις, you say it). How are all these occasions related? What is the significance that on all these occasions when those whose hearts were not pure and opposed to the true nature of His kingdom were making inquiry of Him, Jesus did not answer them directly, but put it back on them? See Luk 6:37, Joh 3:17, 5:45, 8:11, 12:47-48; cf. Mat 12:37, Luk 19:22. In what way do Jesus’ cryptic answers on these occasions also reflect His divine nature? See Psa 18:25-26; cf. Exo 33:11, Num 12:6-8. Although in hindsight we understand Jesus’ words to Judas both here and in Joh 13:27 as a direct response to his treachery, how might Judas at the time have understood Jesus’ words in light of his deceived perception? How is this similar to the way that God dealt with Balaam? See Num 22:7-12,15-22,32-35, etc…, Num 24:25, 25:1, 31:16, Rev 2:14; cf. again 2Th 2:10-12. What does this remind us about the danger of duplicity in our relationship with God, and serving Him with anything but a pure heart? Cf. 1Ti 1:5, Jam 4:8.