Question: What might cause people, who seem to have strong testimonies, to turn away from the Savior?
Answer: Even though Judas knew Jesus personally, he “turned away from [Jesus] and was offended because of his words.” At times it may be easy to become “offended” by what someone in a leadership position says or does, but those with strong testimonies base their testimony on principles and do not “turn away from the Savior.” (Doctrine and Covenants Manual, D&C 121:11-46):
Judas was from the tribe of Judah and was the only Apostle who was not a Galilean. During the Last Supper, Jesus Christ announced that one of His disciples would betray Him. He quoted from a passage in the Old Testament: “Yea, mine own familiar friend, in whom I trusted, which did eat of my bread, hath lifted up his heel against me” (Psalm 41:9; see also John 13:18).
The phrase “hath lifted up his heel against me” describes a person who has decided to openly oppose or fight against the Lord and His work or to turn his or her back and walk away from it. The use of this phrase in John 13:18 referred to the treachery of Judas, who betrayed Jesus Christ into the hands of His enemies. As recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 121, the Lord used the same phrase when referring to the apostates who had turned against the Prophet Joseph Smith and were seeking his destruction (see D&C 121:16).
“There is a superior intelligence bestowed upon such as obey the Gospel with full purpose of heart, which, if sinned against, the apostate is left naked and destitute of the Spirit of God, and he is, in truth, nigh unto cursing, and his end is to be burned. When once that light, which was in them is taken from them, they become as much darkened as they were previously enlightened, and then, no marvel, if all their power should be enlisted against the truth, and they, Judas-like, seek the destruction of those who were their greatest benefactors” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith , 321).
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3 Then Judas, which had betrayed him, when he saw that he was condemned, repented himself (changed his mind), and brought again (returned) the thirty pieces of silver (which he had been paid to betray Jesus) to the chief priests and elders,
4 Saying, I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood. And they said, What is that to us? see thou to that (that is your problem!).
(JST: And they said unto him. What is that to us? See thou to it; thy sins be upon thee.)
5 And he cast down (threw down) the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself. (JST: hanged himself on a tree. And straightway he fell down, and his bowels gushed out, and he died.)
6 And the chief priests took the silver pieces, and said, It is not lawful (legal) for to put them into the treasury, because it is the price of blood (it is blood money–the price paid to have someone killed).
7 And they took counsel (they talked it over), and bought with them (the thirty pieces of silver to) the potter’s field, to bury strangers (foreigners) in.
8 Wherefore that field was called, The field of blood, unto this day.
9 Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy (Jeremiah) the prophet, saying, And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of him that was valued, whom they of the children of Israel did value;
10 And gave them for the potter’s field, as the Lord appointed me.
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Andrew C. Skinner:
The JST reveals unique details about Judas Iscariot and his despicable act. Immediately after describing the Savior’s prophecy of His Resurrection and appearance in Galilee, the JST for Mark 14:10 reports a startling exchange between the Lord and Judas which helps us understand how one who was a special witness (“even one of the twelve,” as the JST puts it) could have proceeded with his act of betrayal. These JST verses leave no doubt that Judas lost his teachableness, that he acted out of rebellion and ignored an ultimate warning from the Messiah Himself:
“And he [Jesus] said unto Judas Iscariot, What thou doest, do quickly; but beware of innocent blood.
(JST, Mark 14:10) “Nevertheless, Judas Iscariot, even one of the twelve, went unto the chief priests, to betray Jesus unto them; for he turned away from him, and was offended because of his words.”
JST, Matthew 27:4–6 (KJV, Matt. 27:4–5) adds to our understanding of the death of Judas when it tells us that he was later rejected by the very ones from whom he sought acceptance by betraying his master. We also see that Judas did understand the gravity of the warning he had received earlier about shedding innocent blood and that his confession is related to that earlier warning restored in the JST:
“Saying, I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood.
“And they said unto him, What is that to us? See thou to it; thy sins be upon thee. And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself on a tree.
“And straightway he fell down, and his bowels gushed out, and he died.”
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Sources: Come, Follow Me–For Individuals and Families, p. 96; The New Testament Made Easier, Part 1, Volume 2, by David J. Ridges, 95-96; Excerpt from Ensign, June 1999, New Testament, “Restored Light on the Savior’s Last Week in Mortality,” by Andrew C. Skinner.