The Choosing of the Twelve, Part 5—Judas Iscariot | Mark 3:19

and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.

There’s something about the human condition that makes traitors and turncoats interesting, especially the one that betrayed Jesus Christ. 

For instance, theories abound as to what “Iscariot” means.  For instance, the Reformation Study Bible notes, “Some believe that Judas was a political revolutionary because “Iscariot” may have been derived from the Latin itsicarius, ‘assassin.’ ”  The Faithlife Study Bible Aramaic slur, ishqarya', meaning “the false one.”  Perhaps the best and simplest explanation is that it’s a transliteration of Hebrew ish qeriyyoth meaning “Man from Kerioth” (located in Judea).  The bigger question, though, is what his inclusion among the disciples teaches us.

First, God knew what would happen, and He still used Judas.  Mark acknowledges Judas’s betray, not shying from it, even though it could be embarrassing for our Lord in the world’s eyes.  Acts 2:23 says that Jesus was “delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God.”  God providentially used Judas’s sin to fulfill the plan of redemption, and He also drew those who heard the gospel through Judas’s compromised time as an apostle.  As Martin Luther said, “God can draw a straight line with a crooked stick.”

Second, Jesus still preached to Judas.  The Lord doesn’t tempt with evil (Js 1:13), and, in fact, gave him every opportunity to repent.  Judas was there when Jesus warned of the religious and political leavening of Herod and the Pharisees (Mk 8:15), but some of those same ideas puffed up Judas.  Jesus said that not all of them were clean (Jn 13:10–11), but Judas never came to Him to be cleansed.  Judas obviously had a sinful love of money (Jn 12:4–6), though Jesus warned about that (Mt 6:24), so he served those thirty pieces of silver. 

Even though God used Judas’s betrayal to fulfill the plan of redemption, He didn’t force Judas to sin.  That man was responsible for his own actions.  No matter how far we’ve gone into sin, as long as we are still alive, we can repent, knowing that “now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation” (2 Cor 6:2).

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