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Could You Spot Judas?


He appointed the twelve that they might be with him and that he might send them out to preach and to have authority to drive out demons.

Be with Jesus.


Drive out demons.

Picture that ministry in your mind. What was the preaching like? What would you conclude about the powerful ministry where the works of darkness are being overturned? And what must we say about the preacher who has “been with Jesus”?

Now check out who appears in the list of those appointed by Jesus.

…and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.

Sit with that for a moment.

There is absolutely no indication that anything was “off” in Judas’ preaching ministry. No indication that he was the guy in the group who just couldn’t seem to drive out demons. And there’s no indication that he was always lurking in the shadows and being the weird guy in the group.

There is no indication that when Jesus said, “one of you will betray me” all eyes suddenly lit upon Judas. This means that his preaching was at least adequate. There was nothing that caused the other disciples to shake their head at his weird take upon the good news. Every sign pointed to Judas being one of the gang.

What Does This Mean?

A few weeks ago my wife and I stumbled upon this show on Peacock called Traitors. It’s a ridiculous show, honestly. But it hooked us and so we kept watching to the end. The concept of the show is that there are 20 people in a house, three of them are traitors. If you spent any time in youth group it’s like a glorified game of Mafia.

In order to win the money, you have to spot the traitors, banish them from the group, and then split the money with your other survivors. Or if you are one of the three traitors, your goal is to “kill” everybody without being spotted as a traitor.

What is amazing to me about this show is that the ones who are traitors are typically the last person that others would expect. It’s comical as some of the contestants say things like, “I would stake my life on it not being Person X”. But it absolutely is person X.

This show is an illustration of a painful reality of humanity–we aren’t skilled at spotting monsters in our midst. That isn’t necessarily dangerous, but what makes it dangerous is that we think we are amazing at spotting the traitor.

This is how Judas, or any other fraudulent leader, is able to last so long within an organization. They make themselves the least suspecting. Those who work with organizations battling sexual abuse tell us that it’s not only a child that is groomed, it is everyone around them as well. Judas fits in.

I would love to give you 8 steps to spotting a Judas in your mix. But my point here is simple. You and I probably can’t spot Judas. That doesn’t mean that we should always view others with suspicion or to develop an unhelpfully cynical view of humanity. Eleven disciples weren’t Judas.

But it does mean that we ought to be aware of this reality. Don’t ever say, “It could never be Person X” and bend the rules for such a person. If there is a way to spot a Judas it’s not found in results of ministry, it’s not found in eloquent speech, it’s not even found in what he/she appears to be treasuring.

We are probably healthiest when we do not treat people with unwarranted suspicion but also when we aren’t surprised by depravity. True discernment will be grounded in hope instead of suspicion. It also doesn’t insulate anyone from the reality of human depravity. Trying to root out Judas isn’t the answer. But denying the obvious when he rears his ugly head isn’t the answer either.

This article originally appeared here and is used by permission.