John 18:1-14—The Case Against Judas Iscariot

Jesus’s Intercessory Prayer was very much a final report to his Father. Most of it was positive as he reviewed his relationships with his trusted friends. However, there is one line in the prayer that sticks out as different from all the rest. Jesus said:

12 While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name: those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled (John 17:12).

He was referring to a psalm that carries the same foreboding sense as Jesus’s own words. The psalm reads:

9 Yea, mine own familiar friend, in whom I trusted, which did eat of my bread, hath lifted up his heel against me.
10 But thou, O Lord, be merciful unto me, and raise me up, that I may requite them.
11 By this I know that thou favourest me, because mine enemy doth not triumph over me.
12 And as for me, thou upholdest me in mine integrity, and settest me before thy face for ever.
13 Blessed be the Lord God of Israel from everlasting, and to everlasting. Amen, and Amen (Psalms 41:9-13).

One of the first times we learn about Judas Iscariot’s duplicity was when Jesus and the apostles were in Martha’s home being served supper by her.

3 Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair: and the house was filled with the odour of the ointment.
4 Then saith one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, which should betray him,
5 Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor?
6 This he said, not that he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and bare what was put therein.
7 Then said Jesus, Let her alone: against the day of my burying hath she kept this.
8 For the poor always ye have with you; but me ye have not always. (John 12:1-11).

Judas did not take the rebuke lightly. After all, he thought she was wasting money that he intended to pocket for himself. However, in his greed all was not lost. If he could not have that money, then there was a source where he could get more. Matthew tells the same story as John then adds this important bit of information. Picking up where John left off:

11 For ye have the poor always with you; but me ye have not always.
12 For in that she hath poured this ointment on my body, she did it for my burial.
13 Verily I say unto you, Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached in the whole world, there shall also this, that this woman hath done, be told for a memorial of her.
14 Then one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went unto the chief priests,
15 And said unto them, What will ye give me, and I will deliver him unto you?
And they covenanted with him for thirty pieces of silver. {1}
16 And from that time he sought opportunity to betray him (Mathew 26:11-16, see also Mark 14:10-11 and Luke 22:1-3).

Sometime later, John describes Jesus’s last supper as the final act of Judas’s deceitfulness before he showed himself publically as Jesus’s enemy. John reports:

1 Now before the feast of the passover, when Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end.
2 And supper being ended, the devil having now put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him;
3 Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he was come from God, and went to God;
4 He riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself.
5 After that he poureth water into a bason, and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded.
…………………
21 When Jesus had thus said, he was troubled in spirit, and testified, and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me.
22 Then the disciples looked one on another, doubting of whom he spake.
23 Now there was leaning on Jesus’ bosom one of his disciples, whom Jesus loved.
24 Simon Peter therefore beckoned to him, that he should ask who it should be of whom he spake.
25 He then lying on Jesus’ breast saith unto him, Lord, who is it?
26 Jesus answered, He it is, to whom I shall give a sop, when I have dipped it. And when he had dipped the sop, he gave it to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon.
27 And after the sop Satan entered into him. Then said Jesus unto him, That thou doest, do quickly (John 13:1-5, 21-27).

Each of the gospel writers tell the story a little differently. Matthew writes:

21 And as they did eat, he said, Verily I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me.
22 And they were exceeding sorrowful, and began every one of them to say unto him, Lord, is it I?
23 And he answered and said, He that dippeth his hand with me in the dish, the same shall betray me.
24 The Son of man goeth as it is written of him: but woe unto that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! it had been good for that man if he had not been born.
25 Then Judas, which betrayed him, answered and said, Master, is it I? He said unto him, Thou hast said (Matthew 26:21-25).

Mark’s account is much the same, except Joseph Smith added something to their conversation:

30 And he said unto Judas Iscariot, What thou doest, do quickly; but beware of innocent blood (JST Mark 14:30).

John’s report continues:

28 Now no man at the table knew for what intent he spake this unto him.
28 Now no man at the table knew for what intent he spake this unto him.
29 For some of them thought, because Judas had the bag, that Jesus had said unto him, Buy those things that we have need of against the feast; or, that he should give something to the poor.
30 He then having received the sop went immediately out: and it was night (John 13:28-30).

We learn more of Judas’s fraudulent friendship immediately after John tells us about the Savior’s Intercessory Prayer.

1 When Jesus had spoken these words, he went forth with his disciples over the brook Cedron, where was a garden, into the which he entered, and his disciples.
2 And Judas also, which betrayed him, knew the place: for Jesus ofttimes resorted thither with his disciples.
3 Judas then, having received a band of men and officers from the chief priests and Pharisees, cometh thither with lanterns and torches and weapons.

47 And while he yet spake, behold a multitude, and he that was called Judas, one of the twelve, went before them, and drew near unto Jesus to kiss him.
48 But Jesus said unto him, Judas, betrayest thou the Son of man with a kiss?(Luke 22:47-48)

4 Jesus therefore, knowing all things that should come upon him, went forth, and said unto them, Whom seek ye?
5 They answered him, Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus saith unto them, I am he. And Judas also, which betrayed him, stood with them.
6 As soon then as he had said unto them, I am he, they went backward, and fell to the ground.
7 Then asked he them again, Whom seek ye? And they said, Jesus of Nazareth.
8 Jesus answered, I have told you that I am he: if therefore ye seek me, let these go their way:
9 That the saying might be fulfilled, which he spake, Of them which thou gavest me have I lost none. [In his prayer Jesus said, “none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled (See John 17:12).]

10 Then Simon Peter having a sword drew it, and smote the high priest’s servant, and cut off his right ear. The servant’s name was Malchus
11 Then said Jesus unto Peter, Put up thy sword into the sheath: the cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it?
12 Then the band and the captain and officers of the Jews took Jesus, and bound him,
13 And led him away to Annas first; for he was father in law to Caiaphas, which was the high priest that same year.
14 Now Caiaphas was he, which gave counsel to the Jews, that it was expedient that one man should die for the people (John 18:1-14, see Matthew 26:45-51, Mark 14:1-47, Luke 22:47-51).

Matthew tells about the desperate end of Judas’s life.

1 When the morning was come, all the chief priests and elders of the people took counsel against Jesus to put him to death:
2 And when they had bound him, they led him away, and delivered him to Pontius Pilate the governor.
3 Then Judas, which had betrayed him, when he saw that he was condemned, repented himself, and brought again the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders,
4 Saying, I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood. And they said, What is that to us? see thou to that.
5 And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself.
6 And the chief priests took the silver pieces, and said, It is not lawful for to put them into the treasury, because it is the price of blood.
7 And they took counsel, and bought with them the potter’s field, to bury strangers in.
8 Wherefore that field was called, The field of blood, unto this day.
9 Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying, And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of him that was valued, whom they of the children of Israel did value;
10 And gave them for the potter’s field, as the Lord appointed me (Matthew 27:10).

Peter told it somewhat differently, but without a more pleasant ending.

15 And in those days Peter stood up in the midst of the disciples, and said, (the number of names together were about an hundred and twenty,)
16 Men and brethren, this scripture must needs have been fulfilled, which the Holy Ghost by the mouth of David spake before concerning Judas, which was guide to them that took Jesus.
17 For he was numbered with us, and had obtained part of this ministry.
18 Now this man purchased a field with the reward of iniquity; and falling headlong, he burst asunder in the midst, and all his bowels gushed out.
19 And it was known unto all the dwellers at Jerusalem; insomuch as that field is called in their proper tongue, Aceldama, that is to say, The field of blood (Acts 1:12-26).

In his prayer, Jesus had said Judas was a “son of perdition.”That is a dreadful epitaph. Other New Testament writers also understood the depth of his degradation and warned others of the dangers of Judas’s fate. Paul warned:

1 Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him,
2 That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand.
3 Let no man deceive you
by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;
4 Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God (2 Thessalonians 2:1-5).

To his friend Timothy, Paul issued a similar warning:

9 But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition.
10 For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows (1 Timothy 6:9-10 see also 2 Peter 3:4-9 and Revelation 17:6-14).

Judas’s treasonous acts of betrayal were even known among the Nephites. When Jesus was talking with his Nephite disciples his words changed from expressing great joy to deep sorrow when he said:

30 And now, behold, my joy is great, even unto fulness, because of you, and also this generation; yea, and even the Father rejoiceth, and also all the holy angels, because of you and this generation; for none of them are lost.
31 Behold, I would that ye should understand; for I mean them who are now alive of this generation; and none of them are lost; and in them I have fulness of joy.
32 But behold, it sorroweth me because of the fourth generation from this generation, for they are led away captive by him even as was the son of perdition; for they will sell me for silver and for gold, and for that which moth doth corrupt and which thieves can break through and steal. And in that day will I visit them, even in turning their works upon their own heads (3 Nephi 27:30-3).

Later, Mormon reflected on those words when he challenged the Gentiles of our time, to whom the Book of Mormon would bear testimony:

5 Wo unto him that spurneth at the doings of the Lord; yea, wo unto him that shall deny the Christ and his works!
6 Yea, wo unto him that shall deny the revelations of the Lord, and that shall say the Lord no longer worketh by revelation, or by prophecy, or by gifts, or by tongues, or by healings, or by the power of the Holy Ghost!
7 Yea, and wo unto him that shall say at that day, to get gain, that there can be no miracle wrought by Jesus Christ; for he that doeth this shall become like unto the son of perdition, for whom there was no mercy, according to the word of Christ! (3 Nephi 29:5-8).

The first person to be called perdition was Satan who was driven from the presence of God by the war in heaven. The word perdition is from the Latin perdere which means ‘destroy’. The word describes both his purpose and his destiny. Speaking of those benighted people who follow him, the Lord told the Prophet Joseph:

32 And they who remain shall also be quickened; nevertheless, they shall return again to their own place, to enjoy that which they are willing to receive, because they were not willing to enjoy that which they might have received (D&C 88:32).

While reporting the vision that is Section 76, the Prophet Joseph said:

25 And this we saw also, and bear record, that an angel of God who was in authority in the presence of God, who rebelled against the Only Begotten Son whom the Father loved and who was in the bosom of the Father, was thrust down from the presence of God and the Son,
26 And was called Perdition, for the heavens wept over him—he was Lucifer, a son of the morning.
27 And we beheld, and lo, he is fallen! is fallen, even a son of the morning! (D&C 76:25-26, see Moses 4:1-4).

The first person in this world to be called perdition was Cain who killed his brother Abel then “gloried in that which he had done, saying: I am free; surely the flocks of my brother falleth into my hands (Moses 5:33).”Earlier, the Lord had warned Cain about the direction his attitudes and actions were taking him, but Cain only had a tantrum and refused to listen.

22 And the Lord said unto Cain: Why art thou wroth? Why is thy countenance fallen?
23 If thou doest well, thou shalt be accepted. And if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door, and Satan desireth to have thee; and except thou shalt hearken unto my commandments, I will deliver thee up, and it shall be unto thee according to his desire. And thou shalt rule over him;
24 For from this time forth thou shalt be the father of his lies; thou shalt be called Perdition; for thou wast also before the world.
25 And it shall be said in time to come—That these abominations were had from Cain; for he rejected the greater counsel which was had from God; and this is a cursing which I will put upon thee, except thou repent.
26 And Cain was wroth, and listened not any more to the voice of the Lord, neither to Abel, his brother, who walked in holiness before the Lord (Moses 5:22-26).

Again, in the vision of the three degrees of glory Joseph reported that there was still another that was not glory because, like a black hole, there is no light there:

31 Thus saith the Lord concerning all those who know my power, and have been made partakers thereof, and suffered themselves through the power of the devil to be overcome, and to deny the truth and defy my power—
32 They are they who are the sons of perdition, of whom I say that it had been better for them never to have been born;
33 For they are vessels of wrath, doomed to suffer the wrath of God, with the devil and his angels in eternity;
34 Concerning whom I have said there is no forgiveness in this world nor in the world to come—
35 Having denied the Holy Spirit after having received it, and having denied the Only Begotten Son of the Father, having crucified him unto themselves and put him to an open shame.
36 These are they who shall go away into the lake of fire and brimstone, with the devil and his angels—
37 And the only ones on whom the second death shall have any power;
38 Yea, verily, the only ones who shall not be redeemed in the due time of the Lord, after the sufferings of his wrath (D&C 76:31-38).

We are told the names of very few who become sons of perdition. Cain and Judas are two of them. However, I believe we could find the names of others among those who, like Judas, had “betrayed the innocent blood, persecuted the Prophet Joseph Smith after they knew of the reality of his divine call, and then reveled in his death.”

ENDNOTE

{1}B. J. Bamberger reports:
Matt. 26: 15 refers to another sort of silver coin, where it is said that the high priest paid to Judas Iscariot thirty pieces of silver (apyuplo) for the betrayal of the Lord. According to Exod. 21 :32, thirty shekels were the compensation which had to be paid for a servant who was accidentally slain (cf. Matt. 27 :6: “blood money,” KJV “price of blood”). This parallel leads to the assumption that the coins paid to Judas were thirty shekels which were coined in Tyre, or their equivalent-thirty tetradrachmas of Antiochia. Nos. 30-31 in §§ 5 below show specimens of the coins which must have been in Judas’ hands (B. J. Bamberger, “Money, Coins, ” Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible [Nashville, Abingdon Press, vol. 3, K – Q, 1993], 428).

<><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><>

This entry was posted in John. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply