18. Journey to the cross: The Judas connection

I saw “Jesus Christ Superstar” at an outdoor amphitheater back in the mid-1990’s. No one had prepared me for what I witnessed. I just sat there — off to the side — and wept. The next day, someone explained to me that the story was told “through the eyes of Judas Iscariot.” And I wept again.

For those who have never heard the biblical account, here are portions of Matthew’s testimony and John’s testimony concerning the relationship they observed between the Savior and His betrayer …

 

Testimony from Matthew, the tax collector chosen by Jesus to be one of the Twelve …

[Before the last supper gathering] “Then one of the Twelve—the one called Judas Iscariot—went to the chief priests  and asked, “What are you willing to give me if I deliver him over to you?” So they counted out for him thirty pieces of silver [Zechariah 11:12]. From then on Judas watched for an opportunity to hand him over.” 

(Matthew 26:14-16, NIV)

 

Testimony from John (Jesus’ most trusted friend):

“… many of [Jesus’] disciples said, ‘This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?’

 “Aware that his disciples were grumbling about this, Jesus said to them, ‘Does this offend you? Then what if you see the Son of Man ascend to where he was before! The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you—they are full of the Spirit and life. Yet there are some of you who do not believe.’ For Jesus had known from the beginning which of them did not believe and who would betray him. He went on to say, ‘This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled them.’

From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.

“’You do not want to leave too, do you?’ Jesus asked the Twelve.

Simon Peter answered him, ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.’

Then Jesus replied, ‘Have I not chosen you, the Twelve? Yet one of you is a devil!  (He meant Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, who, though one of the Twelve, was later to betray him.)  

(John 6:66-71, NIV)

*   *   *

[Jesus speaking at the last supper with the Twelve] “‘I am not referring to all of you; I know those I have chosen. But this is to fulfill this passage of Scripture: “He who shared my bread has turned against me [Psalm 41:9].”

“’I am telling you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe that I am who I am. Very truly I tell you, whoever accepts anyone I send accepts me; and whoever accepts me accepts the one who sent me.’

After he had said this, Jesus was troubled in spirit and testified, ‘Very truly I tell you, one of you is going to betray me.’

His disciples stared at one another, at a loss to know which of them he meant. One of them, the disciple whom Jesus loved [John, Jesus’ best friend], was reclining next to him. Simon Peter motioned to this disciple and said, ‘Ask him which one he means.’

Leaning back against Jesus, he asked him, ‘Lord, who is it?’

Jesus answered, ‘It is the one to whom I will give this piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish.’  Then, dipping the piece of bread, he gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot.  As soon as Judas took the bread, Satan entered into him.

So Jesus told him, ‘What you are about to do, do quickly.’ But no one at the meal understood why Jesus said this to him. Since Judas had charge of the money, some thought Jesus was telling him to buy what was needed for the festival, or to give something to the poor. As soon as Judas had taken the bread, he went out. And it was night.” 

(John 13:18-30, NIV)

 

*   *   *

[After the last supper, then prayer in the Gethsemane] When he had finished praying, Jesus left with his disciples and crossed the Kidron Valley. On the other side there was a garden, and he and his disciples went into it.

Now Judas, who betrayed him, knew the place, because Jesus had often met there with his disciples. So Judas came to the garden, guiding a detachment of soldiers and some officials from the chief priests and the Pharisees. They were carrying torches, lanterns and weapons.

Jesus, knowing all that was going to happen to him, went out and asked them, ‘Who is it you want?’

“Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied.

“I am he,” Jesus said. (And Judas the traitor was standing there with them.)  ‘If you are looking for me, then let these men go.”  This happened so that the words he had spoken would be fulfilled: “I have not lost one of those you gave me. [John 6:39]”

Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant, cutting off his right ear. (The servant’s name was Malchus.)

Jesus commanded Peter, ‘Put your sword away! Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?’”

(John 18:1-11, NIV)

*   *   *

Matthew recorded what happened to Judas after he led the detachment of soldiers and officials to Jesus …

Early in the morning, all the chief priests and the elders of the people made their plans how to have Jesus executed. So they bound him, led him away and handed him over to Pilate the governor.

When Judas, who had betrayed him, saw that Jesus was condemned, he was seized with remorse and returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders. I have sinned,’ he said, ‘for I have betrayed innocent blood.’

“‘What is that to us?’ they replied. ‘That’s your responsibility.’

So Judas threw the money into the temple and left. Then he went away and hanged himself.

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.’ So they decided to use the money to buy the potter’s field as a burial place for foreigners. That is why it has been called the Field of Blood to this day.  Then what was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet was fulfilled: ‘They took the thirty pieces of silver, the price set on him by the people of Israel, and they used them to buy the potter’s field, as the Lord commanded me. [Jeremiah 18:12; Zechariah 11:12-13] ”

 

*   *   *

SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT: Judas sold out his Teacher and friend for thirty pieces of silver — the price of a slave in that culture at that time in history. After Jesus was arrested, Judas had second thoughts and threw the money into the temple before hanging himself in despair.

Over 500 years before Jesus was born, the prophet Zechariah foretold this: “I told them, ‘If you think it best, give me my pay; but if not, keep it.’ So they gave me thirty pieces of silver.

“And the Lord said to me, ‘Throw it to the potter’ — a 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.” (Zechariah 11:12-13, NIV)

I call that a “prophecy connection” and proof that the Lord God orchestrated all the events that will eventually lead to everlasting life with Him for those who believe the truth about Jesus Christ, “Superstar”!

 

 

 

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