Then Judas Iscariot, one of the Twelve, went to the chief priests to betray Jesus to them. They were delighted to hear this and promised to give him money. So he watched for an opportunity to hand him over. (Mark 14:10-11)
But one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray him, objected, “Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages.” He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it. (John 12:4-6)
Human-speaking, it is amazing that Judas could actually betray Jesus. He was one of the Twelve original apostles; with his own ears he heard the words and teaching of the anointed Son of Man himself—God in human flesh. Along with the other apostles he received supernatural authority and power over demons and infirmities from Jesus before being sent out to proclaim the kingdom of God. He witnessed the sick miraculously healed and demons cast out as they went from village to village preaching the gospel. He saw Jesus perform extraordinary miracles like multiplying food to feed thousands and raising the dead—miracles which only the One True God in heaven could perform. After all of this, it’s possible he even believed that Jesus was the promised Messiah.
Yet, astonishingly, he betrayed Jesus for money. Perhaps he was disappointed that Jesus’ kingdom would not be of this world. Perhaps Judas followed Jesus hoping that he would enjoy power and wealth in this life. But instead Jesus spoke of being delivered to the chief priests and teachers of the law who would have him put to death at the hands of the Gentiles Mark 10:33). He even said that everyone would in fact hate his disciples. Perhaps Judas decided that it was not for him.
Mark 13:13 Everyone will hate you because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.
Could there be any Judases today in the Church? The answer is yes. If Judas who personally followed the Son of God for three years could betray Jesus, it would not be surprising if in the Church today there are those who follow him who would eventually betray him. Like Judas, they are looking to enjoy wealth, fame, and power here on earth by serving Christ. And so eventually they betray Jesus for the same reason as Judas did—for mammon and enjoyment in this life.
There are “servants of God” today dressed in sheep’s clothing who come to us in the name of Jesus. But they are false prophets.
“Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. … “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’ (Matthew 7:15, 21-23)
The Greek word harpax for “ferocious” in verse 15 above is translated “extortioner(s)” in the other four instances of the word in the King James Version. Out of greed they extort money from their victims. But they are dressed in sheep’s clothing—they look and sound like us. They may even think they are one of us. But they are experts in greed.
Jude 1:3 Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt compelled to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to God’s holy people. 4 For certain individuals whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord. … 11 Woe to them! They have taken the way of Cain; they have rushed for profit into Balaam’s error; they have been destroyed in Korah’s rebellion.
“they are experts in greed…”
2 Peter 2:3 In their greed these teachers will exploit you with fabricated stories. Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping. …14 With eyes full of adultery, they never stop sinning; they seduce the unstable; they are experts in greed–an accursed brood! 15 They have left the straight way and wandered off to follow the way of Balaam son of Bezer, who loved the wages of wickedness. …18 For they mouth empty, boastful words and, by appealing to the lustful desires of the flesh, they entice people who are just escaping from those who live in error.
Balaam, of course, was the prophet-for-hire in Numbers 22.
Today there are servants of God who are essentially hirelings and experts in greed. They are experts in receiving generous seed offerings from God’s people by appealing to the lustful desire of our flesh. In return they promise us abundant material blessings and prosperity from God.
Such material blessings for believers are certainly not the central theme of the New Testament. Rather God’s overwhelming desire for us are spiritual blessings in Christ.
Ephesians 1:3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.
In this life we are commanded to deny ourselves, carry our cross, and follow Jesus.
Matthew 16:24 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.
False teachers today, like Judas, have therefore denied our Lord by contradicting what he taught. The Greek word for “deny” in the verse below is arneomai, which can also be translated “contradict.”
Jude 1:4 For certain individuals whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord.
Today in the Church there are Judases who can prophesy, cast out demons, and perform miracles in the name of Jesus. These false anointed ones and false prophets—just like Judas Iscariot did 2,000 years ago—have denied their Lord Jesus Christ for the sake of mammon.
Matthew 6:24 No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.