Did Jesus know who would betray Him?
There was never any point in the Bible where the betrayer’s name was specifically mentioned by Jesus. Not one.
Now, John 13:2 says, “… and the devil had already prompted Judas Iscariot, son of Simon, to betray Jesus.”
Why exactly had the devil not prompted say, Simon Peter, instead? Or even James and John whose names started with J, just like Jesus?
So, let’s look at all of these disciples. Can we analyze their utterances, actions and inaction and see their Betrayal-Propensity-Level (BPL)?
Before that, betray yourself by attempting this question. List all the 12 disciples of Jesus. (Let me help).
Of course, ‘Doubting’ was not his surname. But for his singular act of voicing his doubts about Jesus’ resurrection, y’all tagged him. So, we rarely heard much about Thomas in the gospels.
He was either a naturally reserved man or he had so many questions that he would rather not have ventured into them at all. One of his questions is in John 14:5.
But, was that enough reason to betray Jesus?
“Let us also go, that we may die with him.” (John 11:16)
This was Thomas when Jesus informed them of Lazarus’ death. A statement that definitely drops his BPL. This was one situation in which he could have said, literally, any other thing.
I can imagine what was going through his mind.
What am I to do with these questions. I need to know so many things. Why is Jesus talking about sleeping and dying? Peaceful death? But, they just tried to stone him, when was that? In fact, he is one guy that death seems to like hanging around a lot. I don’t know… Maybe we should all just die.
Some may say, but what if he was being sarcastic? Alright.
As much as I can see how humorous our God can be, i don’t think Jews joked that much with death. And with their belief that no one should die alone, I think his statement was just right. And not from one who seeks to betray.
Jews believe that death should occur in the midst of a supportive community.
Although, it is often postulated that the quiet ones are the dangerous ones and this significantly ups his BPL. He could have been scheming Jesus’ betrayal in his intense moments of silence. And maybe his absolute denial of Jesus’ death could be from someone who already tried to betray him.
But, of course, we know who actually did.
Simon the Zealot.
Could the Zealot have betrayed Jesus?
You see, these group of people had some deep grievance against Romans. They saw them as people to be vehemently fought against by all means.
The understanding of the disciples and most of the people of Jesus’ day was that Jesus was coming to free them from these Romans.
I’m thinking Simon would have seen Jesus more as an arsenal than someone to betray.
Besides, the Sadducees and Pharisees were more or less sold out to the Romans in their white-washed-tomb forms. To betray Jesus would be to hand him over to Roman ass-licking Jews.
These points reduce his BPL.
On the other hand, when the disciples were being listed in Matthew and Mark, his name was right beside you-know-who. What if it was actually meant to be him? Don’t you think that proximity is suspicious?
What if you-know-who had just gone to take a piss or a smoke right before Jesus was to select him? Then our Zealot guy got picked first.
Another angle that could have upped his BPL is if he actually understood that Jesus had no intention of pulling down or dealing with the Romans. This would have been enough reason to betray Jesus, if not for anything, for wasting his zealot time.
Could Philip Betray Jesus?
I just remembered one of Pastor Tolu Moody‘s recent Sunday messages. He referred to John 6 and the feeding of the 5000.
“Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?”
Why had Jesus picked on Philip? Bible says, “He (Jesus) asked this only to test him…”
It could be that this disciple and Jesus were used to small banter borne out of Philip’s urge to always shalaye.
When Jesus asked him that question, he could easily have said, “I do not know”. Or, “Let’s check the next town”. But no, he had to go into wages, mathematics, probabilities and what not.
And if this is the same Philip that disappeared after baptizing the Ethiopian Eunuch, then, we indeed know that he rarely passed up the opportunity to talk, explain and persuade.
Now, this his characteristic, I’m not sure how it affects his BPL.
If Philip truly believed in his literary/public speaking prowess, would he not have considered persuading Jesus rather than to betray Him? Also, people who talk a lot tend to find it difficult to keep secrets.
One of those days, Philip would have just jabo when exchanging banter with Jesus.
“You see, this is why I just knew I had to betray you.”
But, if he actually liked the banter and Jesus, betraying him would have been a tough choice.
Matthew the Tax Collector.
I think many of us know this guy.
Personally, I think the possibility that he could have betrayed Jesus is the same with the possibility that he could not. Same with the question of whether he was a honest tax collector or not.
This guy must have raked in a lot of money as a tax collector. His fellow tax collector in Luke 19:8 said,
Like, if he gave half his possession to the poor and repaid his victims four times over, he’d still be comfortable. Sounds like Abacha’s ancestor.
Yet, Matthew had become a disciple. This could mean absolute loyalty to Jesus and whatever cause He was running or…
He was a spy.
And this would have made it easy for him to betray Jesus as I’m assuming he would have had strong connections to power.
He could have just been playing along, to escape the hatred of the Jews for a while before finding a strategy to mole his way out.
But, this man wrote 28 chapters on Jesus and His ministry, started the writing with some background history and all these with awesome articulation.
This guy was probably almost always bent over , writing,, scribbling and jotting things down. No time to betray.
He had received a purpose for himself. A plan. Some goal that went beyond mere discipleship. Such that, even if Jesus had dropped dead, his book would still have been a #Bestseller. I mean, dinners at this guy’s house were a hit back to back.
I think, in the end, he had more to lose by betraying Jesus than he had to gain.
(To be continued…)
PS: Shout-out to Temitayo who I met at Abia NYSC camp for this bold topic.