Let’s face it. Judas Iscariot gets a bad wrap, though deservingly so. How many other people in history can claim that they set in motion that events that resulted in the death of God in the flesh? Not only that, but he was supposed to be one of the good guys. He was an apostle. He was one of the chosen twelve, hand selected by Jesus Himself. He traveled with the Christ. He ate with Him. He likely stayed in the same houses with Him. He had a unique relationship with Christ, which is more than only a handful of people in history can claim.
But if Judas was such a bad guy, why was he allowed to hang around for so long? Why did Jesus not kick him to the curb? If you claim Jesus kept him around simply for the sake of the crucifixion, then why didn’t the other apostles get rid of him? I mean, dragging someone around with you who doesn’t want to be there while trying to proclaim the Christ would be pretty inconvenient.
I think I know why Judas was allowed to hang around for the roughly 3 years of Jesus’s ministry. It’s because he didn’t act any different than the rest of the apostles. He followed the Christ. He proclaimed the Christ to others. He was likely present during some of the most memorable lessons and miracles of Jesus.
Judas had a weakness. He liked money. Too much. In fact, he liked it so much that he would steal from the money bag (John 12:4-6). This very well may have been the driving force behind his betrayal of the Christ. In his mind, he may have thought that Jesus would find some way out of the situation like he always had when others had plotted against Him (Matthew 12:14-15). That would leave him 30 pieces of silver richer, and no one would be harmed in the process. That may be why he immediately took the money back when He saw that Jesus wasn’t getting away. This was going much further than he had expected.
Of course this is purely speculation. However, I’m pretty confident when I say that Judas was likely not seen as someone of pure evil by all the other apostles. How can I be so confident? When Jesus was eating the Passover feast with the apostles just before instituting the Lord’s Supper, He made the startling claim that one of the twelve would betray Him (Matthew 26:17-25). The problem is that none of them knew who it would be. In fact, several of them were concerned that He could be talking about them. If Judas always came across as a tool of Satan, then every head in the room would have turned toward Judas when Jesus made that claim.
Judas messed up. He messed up royally. He harbored greed in his heart, and it led him to betray the Savior of all mankind. However, Judas is not the only one who betrayed Jesus during all this. I distinctly remember Peter denying Christ three times, even cursing that he never knew Him (Luke 22:54-62). But where were the rest of the apostles? Why weren’t they trying to stop this? Did they turn their back on Christ as well, in turn betraying Him?
The whole situation was fast-paced and likely confusing for everyone involved (except Jesus, who knew exactly what was happening). The twelve were caught off-guard. It’s very easy for us to be caught off-guard as well. Sin doesn’t always walk up and slap you in the face. Many times it pretends to be your best friend and want to hang out, and before you know it you are mixed up in sin. As Christians, we have made a commitment to God and obedience to His will. When we sin, are we not betraying that commitment? We must be ever watchful, or we as well might end up like Judas.