Judas and UsJohn Thompson
The betrayer of our Lord.
A name packed with so much shame, judgment, fear, evil and horror that we reserve it for the most devious and damaging people we know.
From the moment the silver left the hands of the Pharisees, modern society has chosen the depiction of him: Oily, shifty, unkempt, sly, sneering, cheating, and for some reason, some have represented him as red headed, as if that somehow is a connotative of the actions he would take. And while his actions would lead us to draw him as clearly an evil guy, of whom evil is intended and expected, I think we are wrong in jumping to that conclusion.
I don’t know that Judas was the skulking, black hooded creep we think him to be.
Jesus, as we can clearly see, called him as a disciple. For those that would try to say, “Judas was never really a disciple; he was always evil,” they are more incorrect than they think. Certainly Jesus knew- but he called him, nonetheless: Jesus answered them, “Did I not choose you, the Twelve? And yet one of you is a devil.” John 6:70
A deeper aspect that we should also remember is something we overlook many times too: the disciples who wrote the gospels did so after having experienced it all. That’s why there are so many references to the future event of Judas’ betrayal; they have narrative of hindsight in their writings.
Taken as a derivative of Judah, Judas means, “God be Praised,” and Iscariot, means, “man of Kerioth.” These are direct translations, and there are some scholars that would like to tease out differing meanings, but let’s set up Judas properly. Judas was a common name, like John or Robert. We know this because Jesus own brother was named Judas- he just went by the alternate name you know, Jude. The disciples weren’t expecting a betrayal out of him based on his name alone. Concerning character, it isn’t too much of a leap to think they regarded him as trustworthy because it was he, not Matthew – who was a tax collector and well acquainted with money and math – who was trusted with the moneybox. John tells us, “Having charge of the moneybag he used to help himself to what was put into it.” John 12:6b