Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered outside the gate. Therefore, let us go forth to him outside the camp, bearing his reproach. For we have no continuing city here, but we seek one to come.
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From stories in Matthew 26 and John 12
Jesus’ disciples, other than Judas, truly loved him, and they humbly received the Lord’s reproof of their attitude toward the woman who anointed his head with oil. They were corrected by Jesus’ words. And because they received Jesus’ correction, they were at the same moment freed from the chains of Judas’ slander. This means that Judas was left with no followers. He had almost stolen their hearts, but now, when they were rebuked as he had been rebuked a few days earlier, they made a critical choice. They didn’t realize it, but it was a choice between the Slanderer (the Devil) and the Lord Jesus. It was a choice of the heart rather than the head, and they chose Jesus.
All slanderers are proud, and when Judas was “robbed” of his followers, he felt humiliated and angry. He felt victimized and misunderstood. His fellow disciples had made the choice to stick with Jesus, and now Judas’ influence over them was destroyed. He had no one on his side and no one whom he could manipulate with his quiet suggestions. The only way he could possibly have remained with Jesus and the disciples was if he, too, repented and humbled himself to the Lord’s reproof. But pride had too firm a grip on his heart for that. He could endure Jesus’ rebuke of him personally because doing so made him appear to be humble and he could win the other disciples’ sympathy; however, when Jesus forced them to make a choice between his thoughts and Judas’, and they all chose Jesus’, Judas was left standing there alone.
He probably began to see Jesus as delusional, unreasonable, and dictatorial, and the disciples as being manipulated by him. But what about the poor? Had his fellow disciples been so blinded by Jesus that they would follow him in forgetting the poor, contrary to what the prophets had said? He would have seen himself as the most righteous and wise man among them all. But what could he do to remedy the situation?
Judas’ thoughts were twisted by the lies that were in his heart. Clearly, to him, things were getting out of hand. He would have seen Jesus as a good man but one who was becoming delusional, as a man who now was beginning to think too much of himself, and by allowing such expensive gifts to be wasted on his feet and head, Jesus was forgetting the poor. He would have been insulted because Jesus should have but wouldn’t listen to him; and he so overpowered the disciples’ spirits that now they had chosen Jesus’ words over what the Bible itself clearly said to them! What was a “righteous” man such as he supposed to do?
In the heat of his indignation, he reached the same conclusion that Caiaphas the high priest had reached a couple of days before: for the good of the nation, Jesus must be stopped. This is at least part of what Judas thought, and he did what he considered to be the only righteous thing: work with the anointed elders of Israel to rescue God’s people from a delusional miracle-worker. Judas saw himself as the disciples’ protector, their superior, the guardian of their spirits, and the paragon of faithfulness to the Scriptures, but now neither Jesus nor the disciples appreciated his wisdom or his value. He wasn’t wanted. He would go somewhere else, to people who would understand him and would embrace his wisdom and discernment.
Of course, the truth was far different from what Judas knew. The truth was that he was a thief and wanted the money for himself, not for the poor. The truth was that he was consumed by self-importance and that he, not Jesus, had become delusional in his exalted opinion of himself. The truth was that the love of God in Jesus had rescued the disciples (again) from following after a wicked spirit that appeared to be holy. And the truth was that Jesus had not forgotten the poor at all, and that, just as Jesus had told Judas and the others, he was about to die and those two women were sent by God to prepare his body for burial.
The love of money is the root of all evil. Judas’ lust for money corrupted his heart and blinded him. Pride ruined him and made it impossible for him to receive correction. Envy of the respect the other disciples had for Jesus impelled him to maneuver to a position of importance. And God’s children who receive no correction are made “bastards, and not sons”, and in the end, bastards in the kingdom of God will be disinherited by the Father. No one but sons and daughters will be saved.
Poor Judas. Feeling misunderstood and mistreated, he went out and bargained with wicked men to turn Jesus over to them for thirty pieces of silver. Thirty pieces of silver in exchange for eternal life! That is the kind of madness to which the spirit of slander will take a man, even an anointed man such as Judas Iscariot.
Slander only succeeds where there is pride and envy, and it never works openly, but only in shadows, that is, in hearts that are darkened with condemnation. Judas’ heart was darkened with the shadow of condemnation because he had been stealing money from Jesus’ bag that he carried. When Paul told the saints to, “Give no place to the Slanderer”, he meant by that, at least in part, to “keep your heart pure.” Yes, slander is Satan’s most powerful weapon against us; there is no question about it. Still, slander can have no power over anyone who stays humble and who keeps the commandments of God.