We are nearing the end of our series on “The 12 Apostles of Jesus Christ”. This morning we will talk about Judas Iscariot and his replacement, Matthias. Next week we will conclude this collection of sermons with a final message on the apostle Paul.
Early on in this study I challenged you all to memorize the names of the apostles. Today I want to give you a tool that might help you remember their names. It is an acrostic that I made up for myself some time ago. You might find it to be a bit silly, but this acrostic is helpful to me and perhaps it will be to you also…
In 1983 the pop sensation Michael Jackson was at the height if his popularity. Songs like Thriller, Beat It, and Billie Jean were dominating the billboard charts. That fall the beverage company Pepsi signed Michael (and his brothers) to do a TV commercial on their behalf. During the filming of the commercial in January of 1984, a special effects explosion went wrong on stage and Michael Jackson’s hair caught on fire. His scalp was severely burned. This mishap was broadcast widely throughout the media and is seared (pun intended) into my childhood memory. That said, here is my bizarre acrostic:
Pepsi Asked Janet Jackson’s Popular Brother Michael To Joyfully Sing Their Jingle… “Michael, Please?”
The first letters of each word in this statement are P, A, J, J, P, B, M, T, J, S, T, J, M, P. These letters represent the 12 original apostles and the 2 additional apostles we’ve included in this series. Can you name them with me?
Peter, Andrew, James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James the Less, Simon the Zealot, Thaddaeus, and Judas Iscariot; also Matthias and Paul.
Of all the preachers in the world, you are stuck with the guy who talks amount Michael Jackson’s burning hair. I wonder sometimes how you put up with me… In my defense, I can name the apostles without any difficulty. Okay, enough of that. Let’s get started.
I. GENERAL INFORMATION
Judas Iscariot is sometimes called Judas the son of Simon or Judas the Betrayer. His father’s name was Simon. The surname Iscariot is thought to reference Kerioth, a region or town in Judea. The generally held view is that all of the 12 original apostles were from Galilee, except for Judas Iscariot (from Judea). During Jesus’ earthly ministry, Judas served as the treasurer of the group and was responsible for carrying and managing their money. Matthias was not an original apostle, but he was a member of the larger group of disciples who faithfully followed Jesus throughout His ministry. As such, he was well known by Jesus and the 12. No other names are used for Matthias in the Bible.
Money was very important to Judas Iscariot. He was both greedy and dishonest. The Bible calls him as a thief because he regularly stole from the disciples’ money bag. He was also treacherous in his betrayal Jesus. In the end Judas Iscariot was remorseful, but never repentant. On the other hand, Matthias was a faithful follower of Christ. He was willing to serve in whatever capacity that was needed.
Neither of these 2 men wrote any part of the Bible itself. That said, the early Christian theologian Clement of Alexandria cited writings ascribed to or at least named after Matthias. These are called the Gospel of Matthias and/or the Traditions of Matthias. Some believe them to be one and the same document. While references to them have been preserved, the actual writings of Matthias (if any) have been lost.
II. THEIR MINISTRY WITH JESUS
After preaching a difficult message that had resulted in many disciples withdrawing from Him, Jesus reminded the 12 apostles that He’d specifically chosen them. His words revealed that He already knew that 1 of them would eventually betray Him (John 6:66-71). He was, of course, referring to Judas Iscariot. The evening before His triumphal entry into Jerusalem, Mary of Bethany anointed Jesus’ feet with expensive perfume. Judas Iscariot complained that her action was a waste of valuable resources that could have been sold to feed the poor, but in fact he just wanted the money so that he could steal a portion of it (John 12:1-6).
During the final week of Jesus’ earthly life, Judas conspired with the chief priests to deliver the Savior over to them. He agreed to betray the Lord in exchange for 30 pieces of silver (Matthew 26:14-16). The following evening, the night of the Last Supper, Judas left the meal early to inform the chief priests of Jesus’ whereabouts and plans (John 13:21-30). They wanted to arrest Him privately and out of view. Judas led a cohort of Jewish and Roman authorities to the Garden of Gethsemane (in the dark of night) where Jesus had taken the other apostles to pray. He then betrayed Jesus with a kiss, and the chief priests and elders took Christ into custody (Matthew 26:47-50).
The next morning Judas Iscariot heard that Jesus had been condemned to crucifixion. He was filled with remorse and regret. He hurriedly returned the 30 pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders hoping to undo his treachery, but it was too late. These religious leaders didn’t care about the money; they just wanted Jesus gone, by whatever means necessary. Devastated by the tragic consequences of his betrayal, Judas Iscariot went out and committed suicide (Matthew 27:3-5).
Matthias was 1 of the many disciples who followed Jesus, but he wasn’t one of the original 12 apostles. Jesus commissioned 70 of these disciples to go out ahead of Him in pairs and to preach the gospel in various cities. Though not specifically named, it is highly likely that Matthias took part in this evangelistic effort (Luke 10:1). Little else is known about Matthias, as there are no direct references to him in the gospels.
III. THEIR MINISTRY AFTER JESUS WAS GONE
Judas Iscariot did not live to see the crucifixion, the resurrection, or the ascension. He did not experience the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. He killed himself prior to all of this, and therefore had no ministry after Jesus’ departure. It was his suicide that led to the apostleship of Matthias.
After witnessing the ascension of Christ, about 120 of Jesus’ followers - including the apostles - gathered in Jerusalem for prayer. Referring to the Psalms of David, Peter stood up and proposed that they should select a replacement for Judas Iscariot. 2 men were nominated for the position. The brethren prayed and then drew lots. This resulted in Matthias being chosen to fill the spot that had been vacated (Acts 1:26).
Like the others, the new apostle Matthias was filled with the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost. There are various theories as to what happened next. One tradition states that Mathias journeyed to Damascus and proclaimed the gospel to those living there. Eventually he returned to Judea, and was ultimately stoned to death in Jerusalem for his faith.
In the past, I have heard people debate whether or not Judas Iscariot went to Heaven. Some argue that Judas never intended for physical harm to come to Jesus, was greatly sorrowful about his betrayal, and simply made a innocent yet tragic mistake. Though this may be true, Jesus clearly declared that Judas was not saved. After washing the disciples feet, Jesus plainly stated that Judas Iscariot was “not clean”. When understood in the context of the passage, it is obvious that Judas had never been washed of his sins, was still lost, and therefore had no part with Jesus (John 13:5-11). Whatsmore, despite his terrible guilt, there is no evidence that Judas Iscariot ever repented after committing his traitorous act. If he had, why kill himself? As such, I strongly believe that Judas Iscariot was condemned to Hell.
Matthias was a willing servant who stepped into the role of an apostle when called to do so. He was eager and ready to serve. Judas Iscariot was a liar who may have fooled the apostles, but never fooled Jesus. His life shows us that someone can associate closely with Jesus and his followers while never being saved. The Lord knowingly and purposely chose Judas in order to fulfill His divine plan of redeeming humanity.