The Lord Jesus Christ and his disciples had a bag of money.
They had physical needs like everyone else, and therefore needed money to purchase food and other necessities. They lived simply, and gave any excess to the poor, who were always around them. What little money they had was held in common, and carried from place to place in a money bag. Judas Iscariot was the disciple that was in charge of the money, and he was a thief.
“He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it.” (John 12:6 NIV)
Being in charge of the money was not a position of great honor. We learn later, in Acts, that the disciples were more interested in using their time doing spiritual things than the more mundane "housekeeping" type activities.
“So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, “It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables.” (Acts 6:2 NIV)
Judas probably volunteered for this job, and not because it was prestigious. He most likely wanted access to the group’s money.
Judas was stealing from Jesus, the other disciples, and the poor. There were twelve disciples, and the very one that could not be trusted was put in charge of the money. Surely Jesus knew what was going on. Why was this permitted? I think there is a lesson to be learned here. I don’t think it is the main thing to be absorbed when considering the acts of Judas, but it is a lesson to be learned nonetheless.
Jesus knew that Judas had the capacity to steal, and yet He allowed him to handle the group’s money. If He saw to it that one of the other disciples handled the finances and kept Judas away from the money, there probably wouldn’t have been a problem. But Judas’ weakness was greed, and Jesus didn’t protect him from temptation.
In a way, you might say that Judas was given the opportunity to conquer his weakness when he was put in charge of the money. It was up to Judas to resist temptation and not steal. He didn’t have to give in to sin and steal. It was his choice. He was tested, and he failed, probably on many occasions.
We all also have our weaknesses that we have to struggle to overcome. It isn’t easy, but we can do it. Suppose one of us has a problem resisting alcohol. Does God make sure we are born into a country like Iran or Libya, which allows no drinking? What if we have a lot of difficulty resisting the opposite sex? Does God create us so unattractive that it won’t be a problem?
God, of course, doesn’t shield us from temptation. It is up to us to learn to resist the evil around us, and that includes what tempts us the most.
Judas was greatly tempted by easy money, but he didn’t have to steal from Jesus. He didn’t use the opportunity he had to overcome his greed. His love of ill gotten gain ended up causing him to betray Jesus Christ.
‘Then one of the Twelve—the one called Judas Iscariot—went to the chief priests and asked, “What are you willing to give me if I hand him over to you?” So they counted out for him thirty silver coins. From then on Judas watched for an opportunity to hand him over.’ (Matthew 26:14 NIV)
What sin tempts you the most? The next time you are confronted by this temptation, think of it as an opportunity as well as a trial. It is a chance to defeat the evil one, even when he throws his best stuff at you. You have faced and defeated your biggest temptation! And remember that you are not alone, God is with you.
“No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13 NIV)