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The Betrayal and The Denial


The Unleavened Bread

Matt 26:
23  Jesus replied, "The one who has dipped his hand into the bowl with me will betray me.
24  The Son of Man will go just as it is written about him.
But woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man!
It would be better for him if he had not been born."
25  Then Judas, the one who would betray him, said, "Surely not I, Rabbi?"
Jesus answered, "Yes, it is you."

As I mentioned in the previous study guide, Judas was the leaven cast out from the Passover feast. Perhaps Jesus chose him as a disciple - one of the Twelve - as a warning to Christians in the future that such people may be in their ranks even among the leadership. He already made this clear concerning the religious leadership of Israel, but the church should also be discerning and judge concerning those supposedly within the faith. What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside. "Expel the wicked man from among you." 1Cor 5:12,13 And so Paul also warns the Ephesian elders in Acts 20 saying, "Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them. So be on your guard!" Acts 20:30,31

Why did Judas Betray Jesus?

Matt 26:
14  Then one of the Twelve-- the one called Judas Iscariot-- went to the chief priests
15  and asked, "What are you willing to give me if I hand him over to you?"
So they counted out for him thirty silver coins.
16  From then on Judas watched for an opportunity to hand him over.

Judas was after money. The earliest record of his decision to betray Christ is found in Matthew and Mark both accounts of which follow the incident in which a woman had poured expensive perfume on Jesus. John records that it was Judas who objected to this waste of money. Then in John 12:6 it says, "He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it." Judas was hoping to get rich from the charity of others. He is like some "Christians" who are motivated by greed and steal what is given by others in charity. If Jesus is not around, these kind of people will also teach false doctrine for the purpose of financial gain, as Paul writes:

"If anyone teaches false doctrines and does not agree to the sound instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ and to godly teaching,  he is conceited and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words that result in envy, strife, malicious talk, evil suspicions  and constant friction between men of corrupt mind, who have been robbed of the truth and who think that godliness is a means to financial gain." 1Tim 6:3-5
Judas was probably humiliated at the woman's generosity. For he demanded that all charity should go through him and his money bag. And there are some today who demand that your service to God should be through them and their "ministry". They don't appreciate other people's ministries. If you're not giving money to them then you are not serving Christ. And they insult and mock you claiming that your efforts are a waste. That's Judas!

The Suicide

Matt 27:
3  When Judas, who had betrayed him, saw that Jesus was condemned,
he was seized with remorse and returned the thirty silver coins to the chief priests and the elders.
4  "I have sinned," he said, "for I have betrayed innocent blood."
"What is that to us?" they replied. "That's your responsibility."
5  So Judas threw the money into the temple and left. Then he went away and hanged himself.

Some reckon that Judas repented and was saved. But this is not a proper repentance. There are many, especially in non-Christian religions, who recognize that they are sinners and that they have sinned. That doesn't save them. Here we see that Judas was not looking for the forgiveness of his sins, but rather he was determined to pay the penalty for his own sin. He put himself in the place of God and acted as his own judge and executioner - leaving God out of the picture. He rejected Christ as the atoning sacrifice for his sins. And he didn't call upon God as his Savior.

But this also speaks of the irresponsibility of the institutional religious leaders. For here was a man who came to them confessing his sins and with an apparent desire to repent. But what was their response? "We don't care!" Thus they were also willing accomplices in pushing him to suicide. But then again these are the type of people that Judas went to. Why didn't he go to the other disciples and confess his sins? Because he had no intention of joining them. He identified himself with the same people who crucified Christ. In a sense he was worst than them in that he knew Christ more and thus even as a betrayer could say confidently that Jesus was innocent. This is particularly interesting in view of the fact that it is commonly human nature to condemn unjustly out of anger and then afterwards justify oneself. But Judas simply could not justify such a betrayal. Perhaps he didn't think it would lead to Christ's death. Often we underestimate the effects of sin. And we may also overestimate the "goodness" of other people.

The Thirty Silver Coins

Matt 27:
6  The chief priests picked up the coins and said,
"It is against the law to put this into the treasury, since it is blood money."
7  So they decided to use the money to buy the potter's field as a burial place for foreigners.
8  That is why it has been called the Field of Blood to this day.
9  Then what was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet was fulfilled:
"They took the thirty silver coins, the price set on him by the people of Israel,
10  and they used them to buy the potter's field, as the Lord commanded me."

There is nothing in the Law of Moses that specifically speaks of "blood money" nor or putting blood money into the treasury. However they may have derived a specific application from Deut 23:18 which says, "You must not bring the earnings of a female prostitute or of a male prostitute into the house of the LORD your God to pay any vow, because the LORD your God detests them both." And I think they appropriately expanded this to incorporate all money which is a product of sinful behavior. But if this is the case, then it is an admission on their part that Jesus was indeed innocent. Here was yet another classical example of the hypocrisy of these people, making much of minor things while neglecting the more important things. "You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel." Matt 23:24

The reference to Jeremiah is actually recorded in Zechariah. There have been three explanations for this discrepancy. One is that there was simply a transliteration error in the text, as the abbreviations for Jeremiah and Zechariah could be confused. Secondly it could be that by "Jeremiah" Matthew is simply referring to the prophets generically. Or that Jeremiah also prophecied this in an oral rather than written tradition.

It is quite insightful to read the context of the prophecy in Zechariah chapter 11.

4 "Pasture the flock marked for slaughter.
5  Their buyers slaughter them and go unpunished.
Those who sell them say, 'Praise the LORD, I am rich!' Their own shepherds do not spare them.
This was the attitude of Judas and the religious leaders.
10 I took my staff called Favor and broke it, revoking the covenant I had made with all the nations.
11  It was revoked on that day, and so the afflicted of the flock who were watching me knew it was the word of the LORD.
12  I told them, "If you think it best, give me my pay; but if not, keep it." So they paid me thirty pieces of silver.
13  And the LORD said to me, "Throw it to the potter"-- the handsome price at which they priced me! So I took the thirty pieces of silver and threw them into the house of the LORD to the potter.
Here it speaks of a covenant being broken, just as Jesus at the Last Supper spoke of a New Covenant being established. Notice also the phrase "they priced me", yet it was the Lord God who was speaking. Judas valued the Lord God at 30 pieces of silver. (How much do you value God?) In the end his earnings literally ended up in a cemetery as did he. The wages of sin is death.


Matt 26:
31  Then Jesus told them, "This very night you will all fall away on account of me,
for it is written: "'I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.'
32  But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee."
33  Peter replied, "Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will."
34  "I tell you the truth," Jesus answered, "this very night, before the rooster crows,
you will disown me three times."
35  But Peter declared, "Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you."
And all the other disciples said the same.

Matt 26:
69  Now Peter was sitting out in the courtyard, and a servant girl came to him.
"You also were with Jesus of Galilee," she said.
70  But he denied it before them all. "I don't know what you're talking about," he said.
71  Then he went out to the gateway, where another girl saw him and said to the people there,
"This fellow was with Jesus of Nazareth."
72  He denied it again, with an oath: "I don't know the man!"
73  After a little while, those standing there went up to Peter and said,
"Surely you are one of them, for your accent gives you away."
74  Then he began to call down curses on himself and he swore to them,
"I don't know the man!" Immediately a rooster crowed.
75  Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken:
"Before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times."
And he went outside and wept bitterly.

There are some similarities between Judas' betrayal and Peter's denial. Both did so for their own personal benefit. Judas was after money and Peter wanted to preserve his life. Both were sinners. But there are also significant differences. Although this was a act committed at a point in time, Judas' betrayal was the culmination of a prolonged chosen lifestyle of sin. But Peter's act was out of character. Judas jumped into sin whereas Peter stumbled into it. It was a temporary weakness of the flesh, as Jesus alluded to in the garden. "Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak." Mt 26:41 And as we can see in his first statement of devotion to death the spirit was willing. Many times there are things which we intend, but find resistance from our flesh in carrying them out. And this is particularly true when confronted with sudden fears. They tend to invoke a knee jerk reaction.What is on our heart and in our spirit cannot be evaluated by such knee jerk reactions, but by our chosen lifestyle. And this is the difference between Judas and Peter.

Later Peter himself would write of the kind of "denying" that brings condemnation.

2Pe 2:1  But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them-- bringing swift destruction on themselves.
But what of Jesus' teaching that
"Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven.
But whoever disowns me before men, I will disown him before my Father in heaven." Mt 10:32,33
Or of Paul's writings:
"if we endure, we will also reign with him.
If we disown him, he will also disown us;" 2Ti 2:12,13
But this is not speaking of an unpardonable sin. The disowning they are speaking of here is a permanent decision. Whereas Peter had not disowned Jesus with conviction but only due to a temporary weakness of the flesh. Peter did indeed go on to publically acknowledge Jesus. If he hadn't then yes he would have also been disowned on the judgment day. But notice what Jesus said beforehand of this matter:
Luke 22:31,32  "Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers."
Jesus knew he would he would disown him. It seems despite the fact that he prays for his faith not to fail, yet he expects his faith to fail! For when Peter denied Jesus, didn't his faith fail? Yes, but that is not what Jesus is talking about here. Here he is speaking of a permanent failure - a complete falling away. Whereas repentance is always an open door.

It is interesting to note the difference of Jesus' attitude between Judas and Peter despite the similarities of their actions. Judas he condemns outright. Peter he prays for and encourages. Here we see Him even giving Peter future responsibilities to strengthen the brethren even inspite of the fact that Peter would temporarily deny him. This is Jesus' attitude towards true believers who fall into temporary sin. He forgives even before the acts are committed. But also such sins do not disqualify them for service.

Verses quoted from the NIV version
The Berean Christian Bible Study Resources Jan 29,2022