The story of Judas Iscariot intrigues me more and more the older I get. I’m not a 100% sure as to why, but recently I heard someone say that we all have a little bit of Judas in us. Maybe that’s it. Maybe I see more of Judas Iscariot in me than I do Simon Peter.

So I’ve decided to share my thoughts on it. First though, I’m going to try and lay out how he is seen by most people. Then I’ll share my perspective.

Elder James Talmage in his legendary work titled, “Jesus the Christ”, had this to say about Judas:

“The crowning deed of perfidy in the career of Iscariot was his deliberate betrayal of his Master to death; and this the infamous creature did for a price, and accomplished the foul deed with a kiss. He brought his guilty life to a close by a revolting suicide and his spirit went to the awful fate reserved for the sons of perdition.”

Pretty harsh words. I believe most people see Judas in this light. Even Jesus called him a devil (the Concordant translation of the Bible uses the word “adversary” not “devil”) (John 6:70-71):, and a son of perdition (John 17:12). But still Jesus called him to be an apostle.

Its true that Judas probably wasn’t the most positive and trusting of a person. Its rumored in the scriptures that as “keeper of the purse”, meaning the treasurer of the donations given to Jesus, Judas often enough to be noticed, would take from the funds for personal purposes. (John 12:6)

Among the Twelve he was the only Judean. I imagine that created some internal, if not external, feelings of not truly belonging. Jesus and the other apostles shared common cultural customs and dialect of language. Remember in Peter’s denials of Jesus, there was one time that his manner of speech gave him away (Matt 26:73). It would be like if Judas was from upper New York and the rest were from Macon County, Georgia.

I also wonder how much time Judas was really around the Savior. Being the treasurer, I’m sure there were many times he was off doing his duties while Jesus was teaching the other apostles. I don’t recall him being mentioned much except with the box of spikenard and his betrayal of Jesus. There is no scriptural reference to his being called as an apostle, but he is numbered among them.

There’s one more thing that I wanted to research. I’ve wondered if Simon the leper, where Mary anointed Jesus, wasn’t Judas Iscariot’s father. There are several places where Judas is called, “the son of Simon”. In my search I found what I was looking for, and more. Here’s the link:

Simon the leper, also known as Simon the Pharisee, was Judas Iscariot’s father. If you recall from the scriptures, Simon didn’t believe in Jesus. He didn’t believe He was a prophet. This is quite peculiar because circumstantial evidence points to Simon being cured of his leprosy by Jesus. I’m sure that Simon’s outlook of Jesus impacted his son Judas’ outlook, making it easier for Judas to betray Jesus.

So to recap, Judas was an outsider whose father, a Pharisee and had probably been healed by Jesus, didn’t believe Jesus was the Messiah. Judas also had a reputation of having sticky fingers when it came to donations for Jesus and His disciples. I think its fair to say that Judas wasn’t a hardcore disciple. So why did Jesus call him to be an apostle?

Now here are some of the things that I ponder most.

We know the plan of salvation is a “plan”. Because it’s the Father’s plan, I don’t believe anything was left to chance. We also know that we received “callings” pre-mortally to be fulfilled in mortality (Jeremiah 1:5). Also, God’s word must be fulfilled (Isaiah 55:11). And when a person speaks by the power of the Holy Ghost, its as if God Himself is speaking (D&C 68:4).

I mention this because of the Old Testament prophecies of how Jesus would be betrayed. Zechariah prophesied that it would be for thirty pieces of silver (Zechariah 11:12). In Psalms 41:9 David prophecies that it would be a “friend” that would betray the Messiah. Simon Peter went so far as to say that those who sought Jesus’ life used that verse as their guide to take Jesus (Acts 1:16), hence using Simon’s son Judas.

So if God’s word has to be fulfilled, then Jesus HAD to be betrayed by a “friend” for thirty pieces of silver. Any other way would have made God’s word void.

I also look at Judas’ behavior after his betrayal of Jesus. I believe it was after Jesus’ “arrest” outside Gethsemane, that Judas better understood the intentions of the Chief Priests; that it was to kill Jesus. He goes back to them to give them back the pieces of silver saying, “I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood” (Matt 27:3-5).

They told him that was his problem. So what did Judas do? The only way to pay the penalty for shedding innocent blood, is to have the slayer’s life taken. Obviously, no one would execute Judas for his betrayal of Jesus, and so, he executed himself. Was it a “revolting suicide” or an attempt to fulfill the law and pay the penalty of his sin?

Each of the Twelve were chosen and ordained by God (1 Nephi 12:7) for specific purposes. I believe in my heart of hearts, that Judas Iscariot was “chosen and ordained” in the pre-existence to be the Betrayer of Jesus, and that is why the manner of His betrayal was prophesied in the Old Testament. I know my line of thinking goes contrary to every teaching in the Church. The “official narrative”, supported by scripture I must add, is that Judas succumbed to Satan’s temptations.

The kindest comments I’ve found for Judas came from Elder Jeffrey R. Holland:

“The most difficult to understand in this group is Judas Iscariot. We know the divine plan required Jesus to be crucified, but it is wrenching to think that one of His special witnesses who sat at His feet, heard Him pray, watched Him heal, and felt His touch could betray Him and all that He was for 30 pieces of silver. Never in the history of this world has so little money purchased so much infamy. We are not the ones to judge Judas’s fate, but Jesus said of His betrayer, “Good [were it] for that man if he had not been born.” (None Were with Him, General Conference, April 2009, emphasis added).

But remember this was a plan, designed by the Father Himself, and there needed to be someone who would betray Jesus. There has to be more to this story than what we currently understand.

Why do I think this? Why am I pitching for Judas? Because, in my own way, I am Judas. I’m not pitching for him; I’m pitching for myself.

Maybe I have it all wrong.

Post Script:

I find Psalm 41:9 so rich! “Yea, mine own familiar friend, in whom I trusted, which did eat of my bread, hath lifted up his heel against me.”

“familiar friend” – He considered Judas His friend, not His betrayer

“did eat of my bread” – I see connotations of the Last Supper here

“lifted up his heel against me” – reminds me of a phrase about bruising heels and crushing heads.

I also find it interesting that Jesus allowed Judas to be present when He instituted the ordinances of the Sacrament and the washing of feet.