Choosing a Betrayer: Matthew 10:1-4

Focus Passage: Matthew 10:1-4 (NIrV)

Jesus called for his 12 disciples to come to him. He gave them authority to drive out evil spirits and to heal every illness and sickness.

Here are the names of the 12 apostles.

First there were Simon Peter and his brother Andrew.

Then came James, son of Zebedee, and his brother John.

Next were Philip and Bartholomew,

and also Thomas and Matthew the tax collector.

Two more were James, son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus.

The last were Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot. Judas was the one who was later going to hand Jesus over to his enemies.

Read Matthew 10:1-4 in context and/or in other translations on BibleGateway.com!

Early on in Jesus’ ministry, three of the four gospels describe Jesus standing on a mountainside and calling twelve of His followers to form a core group of “disciples”. While Matthew, Mark, and Luke all include unique details, they all contain one big similarity. This unifying characteristic is how they end their list of twelve names.

Matthew concludes the list of Jesus’ disciples by saying, “The last were Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot. Judas was the one who was later going to hand Jesus over to his enemies.” (v. 4)

Mark concludes his list of Jesus’ disciples by saying, “Judas Iscariot was one of them too. He was the one who was later going to hand Jesus over to his enemies.” (Mark 3:19)

And Luke concludes his list of Jesus’ disciples by saying, “Judas, son of James, and Judas Iscariot who would later hand Jesus over to his enemies.” (Luke 6:16)

All three of these gospel writers include Judas Iscariot by saying that he was the one who would betray Jesus. While none of the disciples knew this at the time, when they chose to communicate through their own gospels or share the gospel story with others, they conclude their lists of disciples with Judas Iscariot – the betrayer.

But what is amazing to me in these verses is not how each of the gospel writers frames Judas Iscariot. Instead, I am amazed that Jesus chose to include Judas Iscariot in the group – knowing from the start that it would be Judas who would betray Him. Through the act of inviting a betrayer into His core group of followers, even if the betrayer had no idea what he would become, Jesus is sending a message to all of us about God’s love. By inviting Judas Iscariot to be a disciple, Jesus demonstrates that God loves even those who are in active rebellion against Him.

This love extends beyond the core group of disciples. Jesus came to planet earth while humanity was fully rebelling against God. Through Jesus, we see a picture of God’s love that makes what we call “love” seem small. God’s example of love places a rebellion ahead of His own life – and Jesus, by choosing Judas Iscariot to be a disciple, emphasizes this example of love.

Also, because Judas Iscariot followed Jesus for 3+ years and still chose to betray Him, we can see that even being next to Jesus cannot change a stubborn or closed heart. I believe during the time Jesus spent with Judas Iscariot, Jesus tried everything He could to open Judas’ heart to His.

Even though Judas Iscariot betrayed Jesus, Jesus still loved Him – and by loving Judas and calling Him to be a disciple, Jesus shows us God’s love for even the most sinful humans.

This thought was inspired by studying the Walking With Jesus "Reflective Bible Study" package. To discover insights like this in your own study time, click here and give Reflective Bible Study a try today!

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