THE TREACHEROUS BETRAYAL OF JESUS EXPOSES THE DEPTHS OF DEPRAVITY
Grant Osborne: Without Judas, the arrest and crucifixion would not have occurred during the Passover. Judas serves God’s purpose as well as that of the chief priests when his willingness to betray Jesus for money sets in motion the passion events so that Jesus will die as the paschal lamb for our sins.
R. T. France: The devotion of the unnamed woman is sharply contrasted with the treachery of one of Jesus’ inner circle, and her uncalculating generosity with his sordid bargaining. The reader has been prepared for this development not only by the repeated use of the verb paradidōmi (“hand over,” “betray”) in Jesus’ predictions of what is to come (17:22; 20:18; 26:2) but also by the specific identification of Judas Iscariot in 10:4 as the one “who also betrayed him.”
Donald Hagner: It must be disconcerting to every disciple of Jesus that one of the twelve, that group so uniquely intimate with Jesus, became the betrayer of his master. It came as no surprise to Jesus, however, who knew the human heart so well. But it was a surprise to the disciples, who could not bring themselves to believe that one of their company would betray Jesus. We can only speculate regarding Judas’ motives, though it seems unlikely that the motive was money alone. Perhaps he was disappointed in the direction of Jesus’ ministry and wished to force his hand by having him arrested. Perhaps with the Zealots he shared the ardent expectation of a national-political kingdom that would end the Roman domination of Israel.
Warren Wiersbe: Why did Judas follow Jesus for three years, listen to His Word, share His ministry, and then turn traitor? One thing is certain: Judas was not the victim of circumstances or the passive tool of providence. It was prophesied that one of Messiah’s close associates would betray Him, (Ps. 41:9; 55:12-14), but this fact does not relieve Judas of responsibility. We must not make him a martyr because he fulfilled this prophecy. . .
Judas’s life is a warning to those who pretend to serve Christ but whose hearts are far from God. He is also a warning to those who waste their opportunities and their lives. “Why this waste?” asked Judas when he saw that expensive ointment poured out on Jesus. Yet Judas wasted his opportunities, his life, and his soul! Jesus called him “son of perdition” (John 17:12), which literally means “son of waste.”
Matthew McCraw: Well, we see in this passage, the unfolding of the conspiracy against the divine. In Matthew 26, plans are being made to kill the Son of God. As with some other famous conspiracies to commit murder, this plan did not pan out exactly how the conspirators planned it. However, it did happen exactly as God planned it.
Ray Pritchard: There are two things that perplex us about Judas. First, why did he do what he did? Second, after he had done it, why did he feel so guilty? He was so evil that he sold the Lord Jesus for thirty pieces of silver. Yet afterwards, he felt such remorse that he committed suicide. . .
The most we can say is this. Judas was a potential traitor from the beginning. Circumstances eventually converted him into an actual traitor. That he never intended things to end like they did does not lessen his guilt. It only highlights the tragedy of his life.
I. (:14) BETRAYAL INITIATION – SWITCHING SIDES
“Then one of the twelve, named Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests,”
Grant Osborne: It is common today to say we cannot know Judas’s true motivation (e.g., Hill, Hagner, Davies and Allison), yet Matthew and John make it quite clear—it was an act of avarice. True, it was more complex than that and probably greed mixed with disappointment that Jesus was not the nationalistic hero Judas expected, yet clearly Mammon was the primary reason. Note that Judas is willing to take whatever the leaders offer and settles for what is a decent amount of money though not a lot.
II. (:15) BETRAYAL CONTRACT – SATISFYING GREED
“and said, ‘What are you willing to give me to deliver Him up to you?’
And they weighed out to him thirty pieces of silver.”
III. (:16) BETRAYAL LOGISTICS – SEEKING OPPORTUNITY
“And from then on he began looking for a good opportunity to betray Him.”
Donald Hagner: Matthew’s ἀπὸ τότε, “from that time,” is characteristic, indicating a clear turning point in the narrative, though not so important as those of 4:17 and 16:21.
R. T. France: The importance to the priests of an inside informer has already been indicated in vv. 4–5, and is underlined by the phrase “looking for a good opportunity to hand him over.” It was a matter of letting the authorities know of Jesus’ likely movements so that he could be arrested away from the crowds. The secluded hillside of Gethsemane would offer the ideal answer. There Judas will act as guide to the arresting party, as well as identifying Jesus to them in the dark. We shall note too that at the trial the high priest seems remarkably well informed about Jesus’ alleged claims, more so than Jesus’ recorded public statements would easily explain, and it may be that Judas’ role as informer included passing on aspects of Jesus’ private teaching as well.