How to Spot a Judas in Your Life

Mesu Andrews Featured Articles 6 Comments

ExpectationsIf you’re reading this because the title intrigued you, my guess is you’ve felt the sting of betrayal by a close friend or family member. My husband once picked up a book based on the title, The H.I.M. Book: A Woman’s Manual for Understanding Her Highly Identifiable Male. He picked it off a bookstore shelf, read the table of contents, and found chapter four: HIMs Always Think About Sex. Of course, being a HIM, my hubby turned immediately to that chapter. The first paragraph said something like this: 

“If you’re a man who has picked up this book and turned to the chapter on sex—without purchasing the book or reading any of the preceding chapters—stop it. Put the book down right now. This book is not for you. It was written for your wife, and you shouldn’t be snooping.” 

He immediately bought the book and brought it home to me because the author knew men well enough to predict my husband’s actions perfectly! LOL! 

I hope my blog post title will grab your attention and lead you on the hunt for a type of Judas you may have never considered. 

Who Was Judas? 

Before we shuffle through our phone contacts and/or address books to find those awful folks to label “Judas,” let’s take a look at the original betrayer and who he might have been BEFORE he became the most famous villain in Christendom. Scripture tells us several things about the man: 

  • Judas is named among the twelve disciples—always last and usually with the tag, “who betrayed Him.” (Mk. 3:19; Mt. 10:4; Lk. 6:16) 
  • He was the keeper of the money for Jesus’ disciples (Jn. 13:29) 
  • John—and perhaps other disciples—knew Judas “helped himself” to some of the coins he kept for the group (Jn. 12:6) 
  • He criticized Mary of Bethany when she anointed Jesus’ feet with expensive perfume—because he really wanted to sell it and skim off part of the money for himself (Jn. 12:6) 

 “Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. But one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot…objected, ‘Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages.’” John 12:3-5 

  • Immediately following this encounter, Judas went to the chief priests and betrayed his Master and Friend (Mt. 26:14–16; Mk. 14:10–11; Lk. 22:3–6). 

Why? Why was Mary’s anointing the turning point for Judas? What about this intimate moment turned into the “last straw” for the twelfth disciple? 

A Crowd of Judases 

Scripture recounts another story of Jesus’ betrayal. This one a little subtler. 

“The next day the great crowd that had come for the festival heard that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem. They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting, ‘Hosanna!’  

‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!’ 

‘Blessed is the king of Israel!’ John 12:12–13 

The people who called Jesus a king on Sunday would demand His crucifixion by Thursday. Why? Why did their hearts change so quickly and violently? 

Expectations—the Judas-Makers 

I see a sad pattern in Scripture that holds true in lives today. When Jesus failed to meet Judas’ expectations—namely, that he would become an earthly king and give Judas power to rule beside Him—Judas felt betrayed and so he became a betrayer.  

When Jesus failed to meet the crowd’s expectations—namely, to deliver the Jewish people from Roman occupation—the Jews felt betrayed and so they betrayed their would-be king.  

When we feel betrayed, we’re more likely to betray.  

Notice I said, FEEL betrayed. In neither case did Jesus actually betray Judas or the crowd. His teachings had been clear that His Kingdom wasn’t an earthly kingdom. Still, Judas and the crowd felt betrayed, and it became their perceived reality. A reality they acted on. 

Windows and Mirrors 

I’ve done some soul searching over the past year. Moving to a new place, I have the opportunity to begin new friendships, and I want to build those relationships on a solid foundation. Like most people, I’ve been hurt in the past—yes, betrayed—and I’d like to avoid some of those pitfalls.  

But perhaps before I look out a window for betrayers, I should look in a mirror. Were my past betrayals based on my dashed expectations? Merely feelings that someone had betrayed a promise? Fallen down on their side of the relationship? Maybe broken a confidence that I hadn’t actually made clear was to be strictly confidential? 

Judas Is Still Judas 

Regardless of the reason Judas Iscariot betrayed, he still betrayed the Son of God. However, Judas isn’t the monster I once thought him to be. Tosca Lee’s book, Iscariot, helped me to see this very human disciple in a completely new light. He was a little boy, who grew up to be a passionate follower of Jesus Christ, and then—because his expectations weren’t met—he turned on the only One who could give him life beyond his wildest dreams.  

Expectations are dangerous. Apply them sparingly. Wisely. You’ll find fewer Judases in your life. And, by God’s grace, we’ll avoid becoming a Judas ourselves. 


Today’s Question: 

  • What is your typical reaction when your expectations aren’t met? Anger? Withdrawal? Retaliation? Quick forgiveness—and suppression of emotion? Other? 

Comments 6

  1. Anger, hurt and wanting the other to acknowledge that they betrayed me. Or wanting someone else to acknowledge I was betrayed. One of the hardest things is not to speak to someone other than the person you feel betrayed by about the issue. Yet Matthew directs us FIRST to that person.

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      Wow, Annette. Do you live in my head? That perfectly describes my initial reaction to betrayal. I want others to justify my hurt, to be “on my side.” But the Matthew 18 passage puts the kibosh on that strategy, doesn’t it? Great reminder.

  2. When my expectations aren’t met I tend to withdraw and hope the person picks up on it, which is actually a version of pouting I think! It is a tendency to justify hurt by finding those who will be on our side when we really should discuss it with the person who betrayed us. Although I don’t think Judas was in the market to discuss anything. He seemed to have an agenda and was sticking to it. I’m not sure I agree the only reason he reacted the way he did was because his expectations weren’t met. I’m sure that was part of it, but I think he was also greedy and thought everything had a price. Mesu, you always bring up such good points!

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      And I appreciate your point that greed was also a factor in Judas’ betrayal. So true. I don’t think any of us can know for sure the motivation of anyone else’s heart, but some things–like unmet expectations…and greed–are part of the human condition. Thanks for sharing your perspective. So appreciate your thoughtful answers!

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