The Apostle Who Became a Thief
An article specially designed for parents to read with their children
HAS anyone ever stolen anything from you? How did you feel about it? Whoever stole it was a thief, and nobody likes a thief.
Did you know that one of Jesus’ apostles became a thief? His name was Judas Iscariot.
Judas knew the things it was right to do. Even when he was a small boy he had heard the law of God. He knew that once God had even spoken from heaven with a big voice and told his people: “You must not steal.” Judas knew that God’s law was right.—Ex. 20:15.
When he grew up he met the Great Teacher. Judas liked the things that Jesus said. Judas became a disciple of Jesus. Later, Jesus even picked Judas to be one of his twelve apostles.
Jesus and his apostles spent much time together. They traveled together. They ate together. And money for the group was kept together in a box. Jesus gave that box to Judas to take care of.
Of course, the money did not belong to Judas. Jesus was the one who would tell him how to use it. But do you know what Judas did after a while? He started to take money from the box when he wasn’t supposed to. He would take it when the others were not looking. He became a thief. Now he began to think about money all the time. He tried to find ways to get more of it.
One day a woman took some very fine oil and used it on Jesus’ feet to make him feel good. But Judas complained. He said that the oil should have been sold so they would have more money to give to poor people. Really he wanted to get more money in the box so he could steal it. What do you think of a person like that?—John 12:1-6.
Jesus did not tell Judas right then that he was a thief. But he did tell him not to make trouble for the woman who had been so kind. Judas did not like that. What would he do?
He should have felt sorry. He should have told Jesus that he had been stealing, and he should have put the money back. But, instead, he did something terrible.
He went to the chief priests, who were enemies of Jesus. They wanted to arrest Jesus. But they wanted to do it at night so people would not see them. Judas told them: ‘I will tell you how you can get Jesus, if you give me money. How much will you give me?’ The priests said: ‘We will give you thirty pieces of silver!’ That was a lot of money.—Matt. 26:14-16.
Wicked Judas took the money. It was just as if he was selling the Great Teacher to those men. Can you imagine anyone doing such a terrible thing? Well, that is the kind of thing that happens when a person becomes a thief. He loves money more than he loves God.
Now, let’s be sure that we understand this matter clearly. To understand what a thief is, we need to know what it means to own something. People own things because they have worked for them. Or they bought them with money. Or maybe they were given to them as gifts.
When your father works he gets paid money for it. Does he own that money? Yes, because he worked for it. It is not yours; it is his.
With that money he buys the things in your home. He owns them. Because he owns them, he has the right to say who may use them. He tells you if you can play with them or not. And he probably lets your mother tell you this too.
Sometimes you go to play with other children in their house, don’t you? The things in their house belong to their father. Would it be all right to take something from their house and carry it to your house? Not unless their father or mother tells you that you can. If you carry something home without asking them, that would be stealing.
Why does a person steal? Well, he may see something that belongs to another person. Perhaps it is a bicycle. The more he looks at that bicycle and thinks about it, the more he likes it. If he is not a loving person, he does not care how the other person feels. So he may hit the other person and try to take the bicycle away from him. Or he may wait until the other person is not looking. Then he takes the bicycle away. What is he really doing? He is stealing.
Maybe the other person doesn’t see him steal the bicycle. But someone sees him do it. Do you know who? Jehovah God sees him do it. God sees that he is a thief.
It does not make any difference if the other person has many things or just a few. Some people go to a store and see lots of things there. They see something that they want very much. They may tell themselves that nobody will miss just one. So they take it, but they do not pay for it. Is that right? No, it is stealing.
When people do that, they are being like Judas. Because Judas was a thief! Let’s be sure that we are never like him.