The Zealots were both a religious and political party. They believed that Israel could only be liberated from Roman rule through violent methods. Today we might consider their actions like the terrorists of our day. They would eventually come to power around 70 C.E. and the result was the dismantling of the Jewish Temple and the Jewish nation taken into Exile once again. Israel would remain nation-less until 1948!
All of the Gospels depict Judah as a villain, but none is more scathing that the Gospel of John. John was the closest to Jesus of all of the writers and in my opinion, he was the one most hurt by not discovering Judah's betrayal until after the fact.
Good question. The name "Judah" was a very common name in Jesus' day, much like the name "Jesus". It was the name of the forefather of the Tribe of Judah and its Greek pronunciation "Judas" was the name of a very famous Jewish freedom fighter named Judas Maccabeus. There are four other men in the NT named Judas. Judah's last name, in the Greek, is "Iscariot". There are several theories about where that last name comes from, but basically it could be the name of two different cities (one in Galilee and the other in Judea) or it could be the Latin name for several prominent Roman families which literally means "daggerhand." In the monologue tonight, the character's friends do a word play off the Latin word to describe Judah.
Though I don't wish to stir any controversy, his name is more accurately rendered "John the Bapitizer" because his title describes his occupation and not his theology. The Book of Acts tells us that one of the requirements for apostleship was being baptized in John's ministry. This John was such an intriguing character; after all, you didn't see many people in Jesus' day wearing camel hair clothing and most people didn't live on a diet of flowers, locust, and wild honey. Because of recent discoveries, more scholars are beginning to hold to the theory that John was from the ultra-conservative religious /political party of the Essenes.
Bethany was a tiny town about 3 miles from Jerusalem and a place Jesus often went to in Jerusalem. It was here that Lazarus and his sisters had their house and Lazarus was raised from the dead. Through my reading and research, this is the only place that Jesus disagrees with Judah on a personal level. It is only days later that Judah betrays Jesus. Coincidence? I don't think so!
Imagine a huge river that is fed by two large streams. The huge river represents all the prophecies about the Messiah. Each of the large streams represent two different streams of prophecy about the Messiah. One stream is the prophecies about the Ruling King (Messiah sitting on the throne of Israel and its enemies vanquished) which Judah and the rest of the disciples thought Jesus was going to fulfill during His earthly ministry. The other stream is the prophecies about the Suffering Savior (Messiah dieing for the sins of humanity – pictured in the story of Abraham and Isaac) which was Jesus' mission during His earthly ministry. By the way, the Book of Revelation gives yo ua peek at Jesus the Ruling King in (Revelation 20) and (Revelation 21).
Q. How could Judah have been so close to Jesus and yet missed Him as his Savior?
Q. What did he miss that Peter found after his betrayal?
Q. Judah knew the story of Abraham and Isaac and the picture it represented. How could he have missed seeing Jesus as Isaac's substitute?
It's easy to learn the religious lingo (I call it Christianese), be baptized, or witness for Jesus, but you can do all of that – and more – and still miss Jesus as your Savior! Judah had a long list of good deeds/actions he had done in Jesus' presence, but he went to Hell!
As you look deep into your soul, you need to answer the question, "Have I trusted Jesus as my Savior?"
Maybe tonight you've betrayed your Savior like Peter. You've allowed memories, people, or your emotions to get between you and Jesus and you've actually worked against Jesus. You can strangle your soul with regret or restore it to health with restoration!
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