Teaching the Twelve Apostles: Judas Iscariot

This month’s blog will present perhaps the most challenging apostle of the Twelve, Judas Iscariot. I will begin with introductory key verses, followed by a few notes on the life of Judas, thoughts on teaching the tough topic of suicide, and, finally, list some teaching points.

Key Verses Regarding Judas

Mark 14:10–11

Then Judas Iscariot, who was one of the twelve, went to the chief priests in order to betray [Jesus] to them. And when they heard it, they were glad and promised to give him money. And he sought an opportunity to betray Him.

Luke 22:47–48

While He was still speaking, there came a crowd, and the man called Judas, one of the twelve, was leading them. He drew near to Jesus to kiss Him, but Jesus said to him, “Judas, would you betray the Son of Man with a kiss?”

John 17:12

While I was with [My disciples], I kept them in Your name, which You have given Me. I have guarded them, and not one of them has been lost except the son of destruction, that the Scripture might be fulfilled.

What Do We Know about Judas?

  1. He went to the chief priests to hand over Jesus (Matthew 26:14–15).
  2. He led a crowd armed with clubs and swords into the Garden of Gethsemane to arrest Jesus (Matthew 26:47).
  3. He received thirty pieces of silver to betray Jesus (Matthew 26:15)
  4. He eventually tried to return this money to the chief priests (Matthew 27:3).
  5. Satan entered Judas before he arranged to betray Jesus (Luke 22:3–4).
  6. He betrayed Jesus with a kiss (Luke 22:47).
  7. Judas carried the disciples’ moneybag (John 13:29).
  8. He took his own life (Matthew 27:3–6).
  9. His choices were foretold in the Old Testament (Psalm 109:8; Psalm 41:9).
  10. Matthias replaced Judas as the twelfth apostle (Acts 1:23–26).

Judas’s Struggles with Sin

Judas certainly struggled with sin, and it seems that we learn more of Judas’s transgressions than those of any other disciple. We remember Jesus’ dinner with Mary, Martha, and Lazarus when Mary “took a pound of expensive ointment made from pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped His feet with her hair” (John 12:3). Judas is indignant because he valued the money for himself, not out of concern for the poor. Judas also made arrangements with Jesus’ enemies and was paid to assist in His arrest. Finally, he led soldiers to the Garden of Gethsemane and facilitated Jesus’ eventual execution under the guise of a kiss, an expression of love and trust.

No doubt these are wicked sins. At the same time, it’s important that students understand that any and all sins will condemn us without saving faith in Jesus Christ. While we don’t minimize Judas’s sins, we take care not to compare his failures to our own.

Teaching Regarding Suicide

Suicide is a challenging topic and may be best suited for older students. It may also be advisable to make parents aware that you will be addressing this aspect of Judas’s life, especially with younger students.

Did Judas go to heaven or hell? There are two key verses which certainly suggest the latter. Jesus says in Matthew 26:24, “Woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that man if he had not been born.” Our Savior also says in John chapter 17 regarding the apostles, “Not one of them has been lost except the son of destruction, that the Scripture might be fulfilled.”

While suicide is a sin (since our lives belong to God and are therefore not ours to take), we remember that those who take their own lives have not necessarily rejected salvation in Jesus. We understand, for example, that those who struggle with mental illness, times of intense grief or stress, or drug and alcohol addiction may act out of character. In other words, one that commits suicide may do so still trusting in Christ for forgiveness.

Along with this, consider the following teaching points.

Teaching Opportunities with Judas

  • Judas was not an “especially bad” sinner.
    • For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23)
  • God desires that all people spend eternity in heaven.
    • This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. (1 Timothy 2:3–4)
  • Jesus suffered and died for Judas’s sins.
    • “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)
  • Judas regretted his sins, but appears not to have trusted in Jesus for forgiveness.
    • Then when Judas, His betrayer, saw that Jesus was condemned, he changed his mind and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders, saying, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.” They said, “What is that to us? See to it yourself.” (Matthew 27:34)
  • Only lack of faith condemns.

    • Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. (John 3:18)

Scripture: ESV®.

Looking for more posts on teaching the twelve Apostles? Browse Pastor Rigdon's other posts at the link below.

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Phil Rigdon

The Rev. Dr. Philip Rigdon and his wife, Jamelyn, live in Kendallville, Indiana, with their two rabbits, Frankie and Buttons. He serves as pastor of St. John Lutheran Church and School in Kendallville. He enjoys writing, running, and playing guitar.

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