The Real Jesus
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The Real Jesus

Chapter 18

Satan and Judas — the Mental Perversion

   Satan was totally obsessed with the destruction of Jesus. First, he had influenced Herod in an attempt to kill Jesus shortly after His birth. Satan had no doubt also desperately tried to destroy Jesus on many other unrecorded occasions during His young babyhood, and growing years. Satan again tried to destroy Jesus following His 40-day fast and near-starvation at the beginning of His ministry. On several other occasions throughout His ministry, by influencing the minds of religious leaders and others either directly or through his demonic kingdom, the devil tried to have Christ murdered by the hands of His critics and detractors.
   Satan finally managed to accomplish his purpose — and he found his opening, a weak link, right in the immediate personal entourage of Christ — Judas Iscariot. So Satan continually influenced Judas, and was able to take complete possession of his mind at the betrayal, thus finally bringing about Christ's death.
   How utterly frustrating it must have been for Satan to eventually realize that in accomplishing his own malevolent objective, he had only facilitated the magnificent plan of God. Satan had always done only what God had allowed, and on each of these abortive occasions, his best efforts to destroy Jesus only resulted in the further fulfillment of God's master plan. Even Satan's alleged master maneuver, his final "success" in destroying the physical life that was Jesus Christ — the Son of Joseph and Mary, human being, planet Earth — who was also the Son of God, only succeeded in bringing about that final stroke of absolute divine genius: presenting to the world the resurrected, living Savior who would now ascend to the right hand of God in heaven to make daily intercession for those of His brethren who would acknowledge Him.
   Almost instantly, Satan tried to destroy the fledgling New Testament Church of God — and has been attacking, maligning, criticizing, ridiculing, persecuting, and attempting to destroy it down through the ages ever since by every means at his disposal: organized religion, civil government, police states, pogroms, martyrdoms and persecutions of every sort. But Satan's most diabolically effective weapons have continued to be the same old reliable ones he has always used since the days of Judas — destroy from within, cause dissension and doubt, stir one against the other, destroy the credibility of the leadership, accuse the brethren, divide and conquer.
   Jesus "knew who it was who should betray Him" from the very beginning!
   God's Holy Spirit had revealed to Him the deep character flaw in Judas, and in His dozens of hours of intensive prayer in close personal communication with His Father in heaven, Jesus understood thoroughly that there would be one of His own immediate disciples who would eventually fulfill the prophecies. Judas' covetousness for money, his betrayal of Jesus, the thirty pieces of silver, and Judas' burial in the potter's field were all known to Jesus well in advance.
   Was there anything to the story that Judas came from the south of Palestine, from the area of "Kerioth," hence the derivation of "Judas Iscariot," and the tale which would be written in an alleged "gospel" later that Judas and Jesus had met in a chance encounter when they were yet boys, and Judas had been possessed of a "biting demon" (was this the reason for the "kiss"?) which had fled from Judas upon seeing the boy Jesus?
   These and other tales, including the complete rejection of Judas Iscariot as being a historically real person, but merely representing the symbolic rejection of Jesus by "His own," were to be told and retold in the centuries that followed.
   However, there is no personal eyewitness testimony from any of the four gospel writers as to Judas's origins, boyhood, or the allegations of an earlier demonic possession.
   Don't assume for one moment that Judas was unpopular with the disciples; that he was a known "outcast" from the very beginning.
   It is very much more likely that Judas was a pleasant enough personality, and that he would have drawn close to any number of the disciples.
   For slightly more than a three-and-one-half-year period, from the time of his first eager acceptance of Jesus' call, and his determination to remain a loyal member of Christ's own closest disciples, Judas, as any other human being, would have drawn closer to a particular group of the twelve.
   In any group of a dozen human beings, there will grow and develop certain close personal associations, and certain vague but polite discomfitures and animosities. Each man was a strikingly different and unique personality, and it is therefore natural that different groups of two and three of the disciples would tend to gravitate toward each other; there could not be an equal relationship between all of them like some synthetic homogenization of human personalities.
   There is no doubt that Judas' weakness for money was a gradual problem which finally developed into an overt act of thievery now and then which he had kept secret and quiet.
   When did it begin?
   There is no way to know — perhaps clear back in Judas' childhood when he began to get away with petty stealing around his own environment. Knowing the stiff penalties for theft during that time, Judas was a person who was running a great risk, and, therefore, became the more clever.
   Perhaps, after the baptism of John, and his first joyous acceptance of Christ's call, Judas intended to turn over "a new leaf," and in order to prove it (possibly even to himself), probably volunteered to carry "the bag" or the common purse for the twelve, acting as their "secretary — treasurer." Judas may have had special training from some of the professional scribes and could have been the "financial genius" of the twelve.
   Judas was probably a sharp barterer, and managed to stretch the money they were given from time to time when some of the people paid their tithes directly to Jesus and His disciples to show their deepest belief that He was the Messiah, and their rejoicing over His powerful and authoritative teachings, as well as His miraculous healings of the sick and afflicted.
   Judas no doubt formed a few fairly close attachments among the disciples. These are never mentioned after the original group of twelve was identified. But surely Judas was included when Jesus sent His disciples out on a brief evangelistic tour to give them experience in teaching others what Jesus had taught them, in learning the lessons of suffering, rejection and persecution in this or that town, and in having the courage to simply shake off the dust of their feet and go on to the next place.
   Judas preached just as fervently as the rest of them, and who knows, may have been used in performing miracles.
   But perhaps this is the way his road to infamy commenced:
   The first time Judas managed to find a bargain for some foodstuffs and lie about the price, pocketing the difference, he probably felt terribly guilty.
   Certainly, Jesus would know about anything like this from the very beginning, for He could literally read human minds and hearts by the power of God's Spirit; Jesus could see right through the agony of conscience Judas was suffering. The more deeply Judas became involved, the more the normal psychological reaction of anger toward Christ developed. Judas had utter contempt toward himself, and was tremendously jealous of Jesus' purity. These resentments smoldered and became twisted into the deepest sensitivity concerning his own "honesty" and "integrity" and into the deepest hostility concerning Jesus' "hypocrisy" and "egomania."
   Probably, if any of the disciples had actually called Judas a thief (and that was exactly what he was — John 12:6), it would have resulted in an insane screaming tirade, probably even physical violence, and Judas would have quit on the spot!
   Judas could have been as magnetic and charming a personality as any of the twelve, and perhaps was a little more so than most. As the months passed, and Judas continued to live the double life of petty pilferage whenever his lusts and appetites got the better of him, his growing irritation with Jesus' expenditures, personal tastes in clothing and foodstuffs, and most especially Christ's seeming inattention to the poor "suffering people" continued to wear on Judas's nerves.
   Did Judas influence any of the other disciples in these attitudes?
   Probably so.
   It would be ridiculous to think that he held these opinions totally secret inside himself. There must have been times when groups of three or four in intense personal interrelationships would talk about the others who were not present, as often occurs in any other collection of carnal (or converted!) human beings.
   There were minor personality clashes and arguments from time to time, and these were usually silenced by Jesus Himself, who would rebuke the disciples for their hurtful attitudes toward one another.
   Some of the more violent arguments centered around the jealousies of those who were closest to Jesus. Proximity to the source of power in any human organization is always a subject of contention.
   On occasion the disciples' own families became involved in the petty bickering. At such times, there was ample opportunity for a spate of self-pity; the description of how much they had "suffered" and how long they had endured; the hardships they had undergone, and the fact that Jesus didn't seem to be paying them enough attention. Attitudes of fierce family loyalties and mutual commiseration at these alleged slights finally became so intense that, on at least two occasions, there was open conflict about who would "sit on His right hand and on His left hand" when Jesus would set up His kingdom.
   Though the disciples were probably well along in their twenties or even older, on at least one occasion one of their mothers could approach Jesus and beseech Him to bring an end to the agony of doubt and curiosity, and name who would be His chief lieutenants right away (see Matthew 20:21-28)!
   Jesus would exclaim, "I'm sorry! That is not my decision; it is not my choice or my place to appoint who is going to be at my right hand or my left hand in the kingdom, but my Father's!"
   Probably, there had been some frustration among family members because of the long absences, the tiresome journeys, and the personal hardships and sacrifices as the result of Jesus' travels.
   Such feelings could have been expressed over and over again in a family environment about how much these poor men were suffering, and Jesus could have become the object of irritation because of His seeming aloofness to these alleged family grievances.
   Jesus has to give the striking example concerning the giving up of family ties, homes, and human roots to settle an argument about the leadership in the kingdom, to reassure His disciples and their parents in the strongest terms that anyone who had given up homes, families, lands, positions, business, personal wealth or even loss of everything down to martyrdom would "inherit an hundredfold" in the kingdom.
   Jesus wanted to get across the lesson that, when one became truly converted, even though his own personal family and friends might turn against him, he immediately became the "adopted son" of every other member of the body of Christ (which was to become the church) and in that sense, he immediately inherited hundreds upon hundreds of "fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters" in Christ; in the ultimate sense, of course, the actual kinship in the Family of God after the Resurrection would yield an infinite increase.
   Gradually, though, Judas became Jesus' chief critic.
   Jesus knew it, even though on a day-to-day basis in their "love-hate" relationship (Jesus doing all the loving, and Judas doing all the hating), there were pleasant enough exchanges and greetings.
   Not only did Jesus know Judas was stealing, but Judas also began to suspect that Jesus knew it, and this further exacerbated his anxieties. It even brought forth from him open criticism in public meetings near the end of Christ's ministry.
   Mary of Bethany understood even more vividly than some of Christ's own personal disciples that Jesus literally meant what He said about His impending persecution, crucifixion and burial.
   Thus, Mary privately began buying a very expensive ointment she was going to keep until the time of His death so she could insure that she had the finest funeral possible. Mary had heard the tale of the town prostitute who had wiped Jesus' feet with her hair, splashing her own tears on His feet, and totally humiliating herself in abject worship because of the weight of her sins and her deepest desire for Christ's forgiveness.
   During a large public dinner in Simon the Leper's house in Bethany, very near to Christ's last twenty-four hours on earth as a man, Mary was overcome with emotion and grief as a result of the heaviness she saw in Jesus' face and in His demeanor. She then knelt at His feet, and producing a box of very expensive spikenard, began to anoint His feet with it, crying, and using the hair of her own head to wipe them.
   Judas probably looked around at the two or three of the disciples he had influenced the most heavily, and, nudging one with his elbow, said, "Look at that! There is another example of terrible extravagance! Why in the world doesn't Jesus tell the woman to get up and save that expensive ointment; it could be sold for a great deal of money, and we could give it to the poor (Mark 14:4-5). That would make a far greater impression upon people of the kind of person Jesus seems to want to be than to allow Mary to waste all of that expensive ointment on Jesus at a time like this when we are in such financial trouble."
   Judas was pleased to observe that several of the other disciples were equally "outraged" as Judas pretended to be. Judas had set them up for this attitude by a long process of insidious innuendo.
   But Judas was, of course, the first to raise his voice about the alleged outrageous waste. John later recalled, and wrote, that Judas said, "Why wasn't this ointment sold for 300 pence and given to the poor?"
   But John added, "He said this, not because he really cared for the poor, but because he happened to be a thief, and, having control of the common treasury, was constantly skimming from it" (John 12:6, paraphrased).
   Jesus then made another of His "outrageous" statements, neither understood then even by many of His own disciples, nor understood by many who believe in the false Jesus of today: "What are you bothering this woman for? She has performed a fine thing for me — because there will always be poor people in every society and you will always have poor folk with you; and, hopefully, whenever you find opportunity, you should do good to them. But you will not always have me with you! And she understands what you don't seem to understand; and is anointing the hair of my head and my body in advance for my burying!
   "And I'll tell you something else; wherever the gospel is preached throughout the whole world, then what this woman is doing for me here tonight will be spoken of her as a memorial."
   Judas became terribly angry at this stinging public rebuke. His ego had been badly stung and his guilt, rising up like bile in his mouth, became so intense he simply had to choke it down. The only method to quiet his own guilt was to pretend Jesus could not have known about it, and to rise up in righteous indignation against Jesus Christ, hardening his resolve to "get him" if the opportunity would ever present itself.
   Judas didn't like the real Jesus very much. He would have far preferred to have seen a Jesus much closer to the type imagined in the minds of many professing Christians today! When Jesus would refuse to heal someone, not even bothering to answer them at first, and only healed on those occasions where outstanding examples of perseverance or faith were shown, it annoyed Judas!
   He would do it differently!
   Judas knew he could be a better Messiah than Jesus was. Judas reasoned that if only he had studied as hard in the Scriptures; if only he had that unique combination of personal magnetism, quick wit and incisive insight that would deftly turn a social disaster into a great spiritual and moral lesson; if only he could have that amazing power to produce signs, wonders, and miraculous healing — that he, Judas, could have been the real Christ instead of Jesus!
   Probably, Judas came to the point where he honestly felt that he had influenced enough of the disciples so that more than a majority would follow him if he could overthrow Jesus. Actually, Judas' attempts to overthrow Jesus seem to have begun well over a year prior to Jesus' crucifixion, when he seized every opportunity he could to heavily influence as many disciples as possible, so that they would warm up toward him, listen to what he said, agree with his contentions, and join with him in his continual abrasive attitudes toward Jesus' "life-style," the decisions He made and the conduct of their day-to-day business.
   Finally, when Judas knew that Jesus had really enraged the top leadership in Jerusalem, the time suddenly seemed to be right. He had toyed with the idea of betraying Jesus on many occasions prior to this time, but the pieces never fit together. Then, almost instantaneously, the proper chemical ingredients generated the sudden reaction — the time had finally arrived when Judas thought the time was ripe.
   His constant murmuring concerning Jesus' personal tastes and habits had scored on a significant number of the disciples.
   He reasoned he could easily neutralize Peter's bombast, and James and John were quieter, especially John, against whom several of the other disciples nursed jealousy anyway because of John's constant closeness with Jesus.
   Judas's years' long campaign to disaffect as many of Jesus' top disciples as he could had come increasingly into the open in recent months. Now, a sufficient number of the disciples seemed to agree with Judas, and disagree with Jesus' statement about the poor.
   His hatred became so intense — exactly proportionate to the degree of his deepest sense of personal guilt — that his mind was opened up to Satan the Devil.
   As soon as he found opportunity, perhaps early the next morning, Judas, now literally possessed of Satan the Devil, sought out the leading Sadducees of the temple, and struck a deal with them. The main element of his agreement was that he acceded to their demands that he deliver Jesus at a time when no large crowds were present, because the Sadducees knew that most of the people looked upon Jesus as a prophet, and told Judas of the many times they themselves had tried to have Him arrested, only to be thwarted because He always seemed to be surrounded by such a large group of believing people.
   Judas craftily asked, "Okay, how much are you willing to pay me?"
   Perhaps one of the priests vaguely remembering Zechariah's 11th chapter and 12th verse which said, "If ye think good, give me my price; and if not, forbear. So they weighed for my price thirty pieces of silver." And, either as a lark, or even believing some twisted application of this scripture might in fact apply in the "cutting asunder" of a "foolish shepherd," suggested precisely that amount: thirty pieces of silver.
   This was a substantial sum, easily comparable to several thousand dollars in today's economy, and Judas agreed without haggling.
   Rejoining the group in Bethany, Judas was tingling with excitement, constantly scheming and thinking ahead, trying to think of a time when Jesus would be most vulnerable, away from at least most of the people, and perhaps even isolated from a few of His closest disciples, so he could inform on Him with as little risk to himself as possible.
   Also, he fervently hoped that his campaign of feigned love toward Jesus had succeeded; so that, even in the event of the arrest itself, he could pose as being so deeply concerned over Jesus' alleged "illegal ways," that he could preside over the whole sordid scene with a supercilious righteousness, shaking his head sadly, grimacing as if in pain, yet glancing significantly at those few disciples over whom he had almost complete control, so that immediately upon Jesus' disappearance and either terrible castigation and/or even death, Judas himself could pick up the pieces of the organization and carry on.
   In Judas's twisted mind, perhaps he even imagined that he was doing this "for Jesus' own good."
   He would show Him.
   Wouldn't it have been far easier on their entire ministry if Jesus had gone further out of His way to give to the poor? Couldn't they have won far more friends and influenced far more people, avoiding all of the persecution that continually came upon them and the constant rumors that followed Jesus throughout His ministry that He was "a gluttonous man and a winebibber," if Jesus could have avoided the appearance of profligacy?
   Judas wanted Him constrained. He wanted Him contained, rebuked, punished. Perhaps, though maybe he couldn't even admit it to himself, he was entertaining thoughts such as, "We're not going to go anywhere with this whole setup as long as Jesus remains the boss."
   In Judas' own mind, he felt Jesus' arrest by the civil authority would be the greatest event that could have occurred in these three-and-one-half years, releasing his own full potential for leadership. He, Judas, would then set about doing what Jesus seemed to always be so reluctant to accomplish: the setting up of the kingdom right here and now, by the secret recruitment of an army, the quick overthrow of the Roman forces occupying the country, in complete cooperation with the puppet king, and most especially of the religious and commercial leaders.
   Judas felt totally vindicated!
   In his own mind, he had so twisted his reasoning around that he actually saw Jesus as the one who was the extravagant thief, the one who was abusive and abrasive, the one with whom almost no one could get along, the one whom no one could please.
   Judas so misinterpreted Jesus' motives that he came to believe he would be doing the world a favor if he could get rid of Jesus. All Israel would surely pay Judas great homage for ridding the country of this egomaniac who was about to cause great slaughter by inciting the Roman occupation army to counter the threats of insurrection. Of course, Judas did have an immediate second thought: he desperately wanted to take over the leadership of the twelve disciples for himself; and with Jesus out of the way there was nothing to stop him. He had the money, the personality and, soon, the public recognition and the support of the religious leadership as well. Perverted and ferociously misguided ambition had blinded Judas to reality.
   How many countless hours had Judas daydreamed during the course of the last year and a half or so about the marvelous feeling it would be to see the crowd surrounding him! How many clever things he would say! Judas would immediately set up two or three of his closest confidants as the leading apostles, and most certainly, they would not be Peter, James or John! They were too attached to Jesus personally to be of any use in the future.
   Judas would demote Peter, James and John to lesser positions in the group; probably, on second thought, he would have to get rid of them altogether and appoint some new disciples from a few friends he had bribed here and there along the way. Thus, Judas had probably planned to set up a new organization which would solve all of their present difficulties, be they religious, social, political or financial. Judas could virtually see himself, in his mind's eye, plunging along the road toward great success and greater glory! Perhaps he would be able to set up the kingdom right here and now! Surely the people were ready. But he would have to do it through wily cooperation with the present powers, and wait until he had gathered a small army of many hundreds of the key people in the main villages and towns before he could begin an underground recruiting program.
   Judas thought he could amass thousands. He was certain he could do it! Jesus had fed the four thousand and then the five thousand, and, as Judas' shrewd mind began calculating the possible forces he could gather, he probably reasoned he could have at least fifty or sixty thousand troops ready in not much more than one year.
   There was only one "if' — if he could get rid of Jesus, and be given full leadership without any constraints.
   (The popular impression that Judas simply wanted the 30 pieces of silver may well be rather simple-minded. Judas was playing for much higher stakes.)
   It is quite conceivable, however, that Judas did not want Jesus to be crucified and executed, for it was the actual condemnation of Jesus (Matt. 27:31) that rudely awakened Judas from his dream, shook him back to reality and triggered his suicide. Judas probably wanted only to get Jesus "out of the way" so that he could take over the leadership of the disciples; Judas perhaps also wanted to humiliate Jesus a little, "to give Him a taste of His own medicine," and "to teach Him a lesson."
   But it got far out of hand. Once Judas had betrayed Jesus and turned Him over to the religious leaders, his role was finished — he could no longer control the situation.
   Thus, his combination of vanity, ego, guilt and deep personal shame over his deceiving ways, the most vituperative resentment against any who would dare question his "highest moral integrity" and his megalomaniacal vision of his own importance, led Judas straight down the road into total Satanic possession and his own quick, self-imposed destruction.
   When Judas finally came to his senses, when the devil had accomplished his task and left him, he was filled with a sickeningly intense self-revulsion. And in a mindless state of ever increasing self-hatred, Judas first tried to give the money back. Failing this, he simply cast it down in the temple where he thought he could at least partially return the money to its rightful owners. He then went out and hanged himself.
   The ignominy of Judas's death was compounded when his swinging body, bloated and decaying, "burst asunder and all his bowels gushed out" in the very field bought by the religious leaders with Judas' own thirty pieces of silver.
   What does the future hold for Judas? Did he commit the unpardonable sin? Is he heading for the Lake of Fire? Is he lost for all eternity?
   Matthew reports that Judas "repented himself' (Matt. 27:3) right after Jesus was condemned and right before he committed suicide. What does "repented himself' mean? Was it only the carnal remorsefulness of masochistic self-pity following public failure and ego self-destruction?
   It is impossible for any one man to read and know any other man's heart and mind; it is fruitless for any human being to try to fully appreciate the internal attitude and approach behind the external actions and deeds of any other human being. (It's hard enough to know one's own heart and mind!)
   Only the God that created the heavens and the earth and all mankind will judge Judas Iscariot — and that's Jesus Christ Himself — the same fair and faithful and forgiving God who will ultimately judge us all.

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Publication Date: 1977
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