Why Did Judas Betray Jesus Christ? Not Just for Money

By Dong Nianen, France

The sun was shining, white clouds were swimming in the blue sky, and the bright sunlight was filtering through the thick leaves. Under the grapevine trellis in a farmyard, Li Xundao and Li Meien, a father and daughter, were merrily talking, sitting at a stone table. The heartily laughter they gave now and then made the birds cheerfully chirp.

While pouring water into Li Xundao’s cup, Li Meien said, “Dad, from your journey these last few months, you have gained a lot. Your journey has not been in vain. Thank the Lord! Dad, there is a question I don’t quite understand. Please fellowship with me.”

Li Xundao looked at his daughter and said with a smile, “Thank the Lord! Meien, what’s been bothering you these days? Tell me.”

Li Meien sighed and said, “Dad, you see, Judas was a disciple who followed the Lord Jesus, and he was close to Him. Having enjoyed so much grace from the Lord Jesus, how come he betrayed Him? Did he do it only for money?”

Judas Betray Jesus
Good News Productions International and College Press Publishing/Freebibleimages.org/CC BY-NC-ND 4.0

Li Xundao said, “Meien, as you said, Judas closely followed the Lord, but he always deceived his brothers and sisters and deceived God, and he also stole money from the money bag. The reason for his betrayal of the Lord was not only because of his nature and substance; there is another important reason …”

Before Li Xundao finished speaking, Li Meien eagerly said, “I also think it’s not so simple. There must be some other reason. Dad, tell me already.”

Looking at Li Meien, Li Xundao smiled and said, “Well, on this journey, I’ve been reading a book Pastor Zheng Xinliang gave to me. There is the answer to your question in it. Let me read for you.” Li Meien nodded with eagerness.

Li Xundao carefully took out a book from his bag. He opened it and read, “How did Jesus come to die upon the cross? Do you know? Was He not betrayed by Judas, who was closest to Him and had eaten Him, drunk Him, and enjoyed Him? Was the reason for Judas’ betrayal not because Jesus was nothing more than a normal little teacher? If people had really seen that Jesus was extraordinary, and One who was of heaven, how could they have nailed Him alive to the cross for twenty-four hours, until He had no breath left in His body? Who can know God?” (“Work and Entry (10)”).

Most of those who have only heard or seen Christ’s words yet who have never seen Him have no notions of His work; those who have seen Christ and heard His words, as well as experienced His work, find it difficult to accept His work. Is this not because the appearance and the normal humanity of Christ are not to the taste of man? Those who accept His work after Christ has gone away will not have such difficulties, for they merely accept His work and do not come into contact with Christ’s normal humanity. Man is unable to drop his notions of God and instead scrutinizes Him intensely; this is due to the fact that man focuses only on His appearance and is unable to recognize His substance based on His work and His words” (“The Substance of Christ Is Obedience to the Will of the Heavenly Father”). “Meien, these words have spoken clearly. Judas closely followed the Lord Jesus, but why could he betray Him? It is because he didn’t recognize that the Lord Jesus was Christ, the incarnate God, but regarded Him as an ordinary and normal man. In man’s notions and imaginings, they think that if the flesh is really God’s incarnate flesh, the flesh should be a supernatural one, as grand, lofty, and imposing as a great man, and that not only should He speak with much authority and power, but also be accompanied by signs and wonders—only such flesh could be the incarnate God; if the flesh looks ordinary and common and he has a normal humanity, he definitely isn’t God’s incarnate flesh. At that time, Judas only paid attention to Jesus’ humanity. He saw that the Lord Jesus came from an ordinary family, that He was the son of a poor carpenter and had brothers and sisters, that He ate, slept, and had normal human emotions like a normal person, and that He was nothing special compared to the people around Him. So, Judas regarded the Lord Jesus as an insignificant, ordinary, and normal man, but not as Christ. In fact, although the Lord Jesus had a normal and ordinary flesh, His divine substance is apparent and can be known from His work and words. For example, the words Jesus expressed and the mysteries of the heavenly kingdom He revealed as well as His requirements of man are all truths; also healing the sick and casting out demons, calming the storm and the sea, feeding five thousand people with five loaves of bread and two fish, raising the dead, and so on, all these miracles He performed showed forth God’s authority and power. If people truly sought, could they not see from these facts that the Lord Jesus is Christ, God Himself? Thus, Judas’ betrayal of the Lord was because he focused only on the appearance of the Lord Jesus. He thought that the Lord Jesus was an ordinary man, he didn’t realize from His work and words that His substance was God. This is the main reason that resulted in his betrayal of the Lord Jesus.”

Li Xundao took a drink from his cup and then continued, “Meien, you see, isn’t it too dangerous to focus on Christ’s humanity judging from His appearance and not know His divinity from His work and words? At that time, not only did Judas not regard Jesus as Christ, but many people also speculated about Jesus, saying, ‘Is not this Joseph’s son? Is not he a Nazarene?’ Isn’t it also because the Lord Jesus had a normal humanity like an ordinary man, but didn’t have a lofty image of a great man? If we had been in the age of the Lord Jesus, wouldn’t we have easily made such a mistake as well?”

Li Meien nodded seriously, and said, “This is indeed the case! Dad, you have really benefited from your journey; especially those words you read can explain this question thoroughly. Now I have understood the basic reason why Judas betrayed the Lord Jesus. He didn’t regard the Lord Jesus as Christ, but as an ordinary man, so he brazenly deceived God and even betrayed the Lord Jesus Christ. In short, he didn’t understand what Christ was, did he Dad?”

Li Xundao happily said, “Right! Meien, let me read some more passages for you, and you’ll be clearer about this.” With that, he lowered his head and turned the pages of the book.

Li Meien looked at the book and said, “Dad, let me read.” Li Xundao nodded and passed the book to her. She read, “The meaning of incarnation is that God appears in the flesh, and He comes to work among man of His creation in the image of a flesh. So, for God to be incarnated, He must first be flesh, flesh with normal humanity; this, at the very least, must be true. In fact, the implication of God’s incarnation is that God lives and works in the flesh, God in His very essence becomes flesh, becomes a man” (“The Essence of the Flesh Inhabited by God”).

The incarnate God is called Christ, and Christ is the flesh donned by the Spirit of God. This flesh is unlike any man that is of the flesh. This difference is because Christ is not of flesh and blood but is the incarnation of the Spirit. He has both a normal humanity and a complete divinity. His divinity is not possessed by any man. His normal humanity sustains all His normal activities in the flesh, while His divinity carries out the work of God Himself” (“The Substance of Christ Is Obedience to the Will of the Heavenly Father”).

Li Xundao said, “Meien, at that time Judas didn’t understand the aspects of the truth about what Christ and incarnation were, and didn’t have a heart of reverence for God at all, so he dared to brazenly betray the Lord. The incarnate God is called Christ, and Christ means that God’s Spirit has taken on a flesh, that is, God’s Spirit has been realized in a flesh with a normal humanity and a normal mind, and that He comes to work and speak among man as an ordinary and normal person. This flesh has not only a normal humanity, but even more, a complete divinity. The almightiness and wisdom that God’s Spirit possesses, God’s disposition, and His being and possessions have all been realized in Christ. Christ is the truth, the way, and the life. Outwardly, Christ is an ordinary and normal Son of man, not in the least bit supernatural, but He is unlike any man that is of flesh and blood. The created man has only humanity, without any divine substance, while Christ not only has a normal humanity but more importantly has a complete divinity. Therefore, having God’s substance, He can completely represent God, express all truths with the identity of God, express God’s disposition and all that God has and is, and bestow the truth, the way, and the life upon man. No created man is capable of such feats. The Lord Jesus Christ said, ‘I and My Father are one’ (John 10:30). ‘I am in the Father, and the Father in Me’ (John 14:10). The substance of Christ is the incarnation of God’s Spirit, is the truth, the way, and the life. Christ expresses His disposition and all that He has and is, all of which are the truth and can become man’s life. Therefore, Christ is not a vague God in the legend, but the practical God, just like the Lord Jesus who ate and lived among man, true and real, and personally led and shepherded man. Meien, in fact, the greatest mystery of the incarnation has little to do with whether the image of His flesh is lofty or ordinary and normal. Rather it has to do with the complete divinity hidden in the normal-looking person. No man is capable of discovering or seeing this hidden divinity. Just as when the Lord Jesus came to work, if no one had heard His voice or experienced His word and work, then no one would have recognized that He is Christ. Wasn’t Judas so foolish and blind that he didn’t recognize God’s word and work? Don’t you think so?”

Li Meien agreed, “That’s right. People like Peter, John, Matthew, Nathanael, and so on, all recognized the Lord Jesus was the coming Messiah from His words and work, so they followed Jesus Christ and gained the Lord’s salvation. Judas was too blind to know what the incarnation was. God’s incarnate flesh must have normal humanity, and so He can be called Christ, the Son of man. Christ is the truth, the way, and the life. No matter how ordinary and normal the flesh is, Christ is the flesh donned by God in heaven as the Son of man to work among man. He has complete divinity, and can express the truth at any time to supply, water, and shepherd man.”

Li Meien took a drink. Looking at the book on the table, she continued, “Dad, through the words in this book, I can understand all this today. There is the enlightenment and illumination of the Holy Spirit in these words. No ordinary man can write out these words.”

Li Xundao nodded. He took the book and looked at it fondly, saying, “Mm. Yes. Thank the Lord! Meien, this book indeed has the truth. I think it’s from God. Let’s read more.”

Li Meien nodded, and continued to carefully read the words in the book with her father.

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