What If Judas Didn’t Betray Jesus?

illuminare banner
The What if…Imaginative Adventures in Faith.
(This question was submitted by ADT)
What if…Judas didn’t betray Jesus?
Judas has to be the most reviled person in human history. His name is synonymous with infamy though it actually means Praise. It’s from Loudas, the Greek form of Judah. Another variant is Jude. The meaning of his surname “Iscariot” is the subject of conjecture however. Probably a derivative of Ish Kerioth i.e. man of Kerioth, a town in the tribe of Judah. (Joshua 15:25)
Judas’ principal accomplishment in life was that he betrayed Jesus for 30 pieces of silver. Judas loved money. He exemplified the saying the love of money is the root of all evil. (1 Timothy 6:10) He was a crook, an embezzler of funds. John outrightly called him a thief. (John 12:6) But what if he didn’t betray Jesus, would history have changed? Would things have turned out differently for humanity? Would Jesus have gone to the cross?
Well, unknown to many, if Judas didn’t betray Jesus two people in particular would have lost credibility as prophets. The two men are Zechariah and David. They were the ones who prophesied the treachery of Judas. Those prophecies were hyper-realistic. It was as if they were watching a video. They captured Judas in reflections and conversations. One of the tests of the credibility of a prophet is fulfillment: “But you may wonder, ‘How will we know whether or not a prophecy is from the Lord?’ Here’s how: If what the prophet spoke in God’s name doesn’t happen, then obviously God wasn’t behind it; the prophet made it up. Forget about him.” (Deuteronomy 18:21-22 NLT, MSG) If Judas didn’t act according to prophecy the credibility of both Zechariah and David was at stake.
Zechariah’s prophecy came 500 years before the event! He literally “saw” Judas bargaining with the high priests – saw a raw video feed. In that video feed Judas was talking to someone: “Then I addressed them: ‘Pay me what you think I’m worth.’ They paid me an insulting sum, counting out thirty silver coins.” (Zechariah 11:12) It’s obvious from this prophetic video feed Judas felt underappreciated, even felt insulted by the amount paid for his treachery.
But according to Mathew Judas was the one who approached the religious leaders with the proposal to betray Jesus: “What are you willing to give me if I hand him over to you?” (Matthew 26:15 AMP) That in itself points to an exaggerated sense of self-importance. As prophesied by Zechariah they did pay him thirty pieces of silver. Mathew says from that time on Judas began to look for an opportunity to betray Jesus.
However Judas suffered a murderer’s remorse and decided to return the money. This was Mathew’s account: “Judas, the one who betrayed him realized that Jesus was doomed. Overcome with remorse, he gave back the thirty silver coins to the high priests, saying, ‘I’ve sinned. I’ve betrayed an innocent man.’ They said, ‘What do we care? That’s your problem!’ Judas threw the silver coins into the temple and left. Then he went out and hung himself.” (Matthew 27:3-5) Amazingly, Zechariah recorded this same scene. He even captured Judas’ thoughts. (He must have hung himself right after this): “Throw it into the poor box. This stingy wage was all they thought of me and my work!” So I took the thirty silver coins and threw them into the poor box in God’s Temple.” (Zechariah 11:13)
How did Jesus feel about the whole thing? Well, David tells us in his prophecy: “Even my close friend, in whom I trusted, who ate my bread, has lifted his heel against me.” (Psalm 41:9) And we see eerie fulfillment of that prophecy in the Book of John. Jesus used those exact words: “He who eats my bread with me has raised up his heel against me.” (John 13:18) And when the disciples wondered about the identity of this betrayer Jesus replied and acted out the words of the prophecy: ‘“It is the one to whom I give the bread I dip in the bowl.” And when he had dipped it, he gave it to Judas, son of Simon Iscariot. When Judas had eaten the bread, Satan entered him…”’ (John 13:26)
Now, here’s the implication of the failure of the prophecies about Judas: if the prophetic credibility of David and Zechariah fail we must call their other writings into question. Which goes to the credibility of the Christian faith and the Bible. The books of Psalms and Zechariah must necessarily lose potency. At best they’d be history textbooks, though Psalms will double as a collection of poems and rap songs.
Prophecy-events concerning Jesus extended from his conception to his crucifixion and resurrection, as well as his ascension and session in heaven. (Psalm 110:1) The betrayal of Judas actually constituted a tiny detail in the string of events. At least the religious leaders thought so. Which was why they blackballed him. They knew they couldn’t arrest Jesus in the open for fear of the people. They needed a mole in his organization to inform them on his whereabouts. Judas fit the bill. (Acts 1:16) He on the other hand felt he DELIVERED a major political prize.
With or without Judas Jesus would still have gone to the cross. Why? Because it had been prophesied he would. And the prophecies were independent of Judas. Indeed it had been decided before the foundation of the world. (1 Peter 1:20) It’s why Jesus came. Isaiah had already prophesied his death. It was a whole narrative. Isaiah 50:6 for example talks about his physical ordeal leading up to the crucifixion: “I offered my back to those who beat me and my cheeks to those who pulled my beard. I did not hide my face from mockery and spitting.” He prophesied his silence before his accusers – “He was oppressed and treated harshly, yet he never said a word… As a sheep is silent before the shearers, he did not open his mouth. Unjustly condemned he was led away.” (Isaiah 53:7-8, Mark 14:60-61, 15:3-5) And David weighed in as well. He told us in advance the soldiers would wager for his clothes at the crucifixion: “They divide my garments among themselves and throw dice for my clothing.” (Psalm 22:18, Matthew 27:35) And that famous statement made by Jesus on the cross – “My God my God why have you forsaken me?”… Well, David prophesied it verbatim 1000 years before the event. (Matthew 27:46, Psalm 22:1) When Jesus said he could have been arrested in the temple he minimized the value of Judas. (Luke 22:53) In essence, both Jesus and the religious leaders felt Judas played no more than a bit role in the scheme of things. The religious leaders felt they deserved all the credit. They arranged the midnight trial, they assembled the mob, arranged subornation of perjury, scaled things up to Pilate, and whipped up the crowd to get Barabbas the murderer and insurrectionist released in the place of Jesus… (Luke 23:17-25) Incidentally, Barabbas was also named Jesus. Indeed Barabbas means “son of the father.” So this was a Jesus for Jesus deal, the Son of the Father for a son of the father. It foreshadows the Christ/Antichrist confrontation. Our friend Judas Iscariot was therefore a nobody in the grand scheme. This makes nonsense of the heretic doctrine of the gnostic Gospel of Judas (which wasn’t written by Judas by the way) that Judas made the salvation of mankind possible. What arrant nonsense! The chief promoter of the text is National Geographic.
So here’s the summary. If Judas hadn’t betrayed Jesus a tiny bit in the prophecy chain concerning Jesus would have failed. But it’s details like that that make the Bible incredible. God obsesses over details. Look at nature. Our faith is reinforced by those tiny little details. And oh, by the way if Judas hadn’t betrayed Jesus Mathias would not have become an apostle. (Acts 1:26) He was the replacement apostle. David had prophesied, “Let someone else take his position.” (Psalm 109:8).
Now, Jesus had said, “For the Son of Man must die, as the scriptures declared long ago. But how terrible it will be for the one who betrays him. It would be far better for that man if he had not been born!” (Matthew 26:23-24) Well, if you want to know the full ramification of that statement read Psalm 109:8-15. It contains the curses on Judas. It was prophesied he would die very young, his children will be fatherless, his wife a widow, his children will become beggars, his home will be ruined, creditors will seize his estate, he will lose all his earnings and assets, no one will show kindness to his children, all his offspring will die, his family name will be blotted out in the next generation, the sins of his parents will never be forgiven and his name will disappear from human memory. Judas would have escaped this fate if he had not betrayed Jesus.
If you’ll like to give your life to Jesus, please pray this prayer: Father I acknowledge that I am a sinner, that Jesus Christ died for me, that you raised him from the dead. Please forgive me. I accept Jesus today as my Lord and my Saviour. Amen.
© #Illuminare Leke Alder | talk2me@lekealder.com