Mark 14 – How Could Judas Be So Close to Jesus & Still Betray Him?

As we enter Mark 14, we see that the Jewish religious leaders have had enough of Jesus and His confrontations with them. Now they’re trying to figure out how they can kill and be done with Him. But, because Jesus was so famous at this point and had a lot of support from the common people, they were afraid there would be an uprising if they tried (vv. 1-2).

Enter Judas. This is where Judas comes in to play.

“Then Judas Iscariot, who was one of the twelve, went to the chief priests in order to betray [Jesus] to them. And when they heard it, they were glad and promised to give him money. And he sought an opportunity to betray him.”

– vv. 10-11

Who Was Judas?

Who was this man Judas? One thing Mark seems to emphasize is that he was “one of the twelve.” It’s important for us to remember that Judas was one of the twelve disciples.

At some point, Jesus called Judas to follow Him and he did – he left everything behind just like the other 11 disciples. Just like the other disciples too, he would have seen Jesus perform miracles and walk on water. He would have heard Jesus’ parables, teaching and foretelling what would happen in the future.

Here’s a mind-blowing fact. Since Judas was one of the Twelve, it meant that he had been sent out specifically by Jesus with “authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and affliction” and to proclaim the gospel (Matthew 10:1-15).

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Even after all this, how could Judas plan to betray Jesus? How could someone be so close to Jesus and still betray Him? Mark doesn’t really answer this question, but John does. And reading what he wrote, we find three clues to that answer.

1) Judas Was Not Repentant

After the woman poured out really expensive perfume in worship to Jesus, John writes:

“But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (he who was about to betray him), said, ‘Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?’ He said this, not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief, and having charge of the moneybag he used to help himself to what was put into it.”

– John 12:4-6

Somehow, along the way, Judas had allowed himself to get comfortable stealing money and all the deception that must have come with that. His heart was not soft to sin – he was not repentant. He had answered the invitation to walk alongside Jesus, he had even done ministry in his name, but he had never obeyed Jesus’ very first sermon to “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 4:17).

2) Judas Didn’t Have the Christian Resources to Stand Against Satan

In John 13:2, we see that “the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray [Jesus].” Judas was susceptible to Satan’s manipulation.

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Satan is real. But, we as Christians don’t need to fear him because He who is in us is greater (1 John 4:4). We also have the full armor of God to defend against the Devil’s schemes (Ephesians 6:10-20). Apparently, though, Judas didn’t have any of this – he was susceptible to Satan.

3) Judas Was Not “Clean”

Reading on in John’s account of Jesus washing the disciples’ feet:

“Jesus said to [Peter], ‘The one who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet, but is completely clean. And you are clean, but not every one of you.’ For he knew who was to betray him; that was why he said, ‘Not all of you are clean.'”

– 13:10-11

As Jesus Himself says, Judas was not “clean” – which is a picture of salvation.

It’s Possible to Be Really Close to Jesus, but Miss Salvation

So how could Judas be so close to Jesus and still betray Him? The answer is not that Judas was saved by genuine faith and allegiance to Jesus Christ and then lost it – he never had salvation to begin with.

The big takeaway for us is: it’s possible to be really close to Jesus, but miss salvation. It’s possible to be really close, but never entrust yourself to Him as your Savior. It’s possible to be really close, but never repent, stop living your life your own way and follow Jesus as your Lord.

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Let’s examine ourselves and ask the Lord to examine us. Are we so close to Jesus, going through the motions of Christianity, but missing actual salvation?

Discussion Starters

  • What do you think about Judas having been sent out specifically by Jesus with spiritual authority?
  • Read John 12:4-6, 13:2 and 13:10-11. What do these Scriptures tell us about Judas?
  • How could Judas be so close to Jesus and still betray Him? What does this mean for us?

Image: Judas Betraying Jesus With a Kiss by James Tissot. SuperStock / Getty Images

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