Without Judas it seems that the whole dramatic ending to the Jesus myth would have collapsed in ignominy. It seems that Jesus was so unknown in Jerusalem after his two of three years of miracle-laden perambulations that nobody would have noticed him if he had continued to preach until he died of old age. Someone had to volunteer to go to the authorities and lead them to the Garden of Gethsemane to find him. Being such a threat to everyday life in the region at the time, it seems that they couldn't find him without Judas. Doesn't that seem surprising?
Of course he probably had to do it because of a prophecy in the Old Testament or for some other mysterious (non-)reason like that. Or was it because the whole thing had to be done in a hurry at passover and they had to act quickly?
In fact Judas did it because he was instructed to do it, by Jesus himself as it explains very clearly in the Gospel of John, chapter 13.
21 After he had said this, Jesus was troubled in spirit and testified, "I tell you the truth, one of you is going to betray me."
[Strange use of the word betray. And as I mentioned in my recent post about Islamic 'science', just saying "I tell you the truth" should be enough to make you suspicious.]
26 Jesus answered, "It is the one to whom I will give this piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish." Then, dipping the piece of bread, he gave it to Judas Iscariot, son of Simon.
27 As soon as Judas took the bread, Satan entered into him. "What you are about to do, do quickly," Jesus told him
[So Judas betrayed Jesus by doing as he was told? I would have thought it would have been more of a betrayal if he had refused.]
Later in Mark 26 in Gethsemane
50 Jesus replied, "Friend, do what you came for." Then the men stepped forward, seized Jesus and arrested him.
So let's get this clear! In the myth, Jesus told Judas what to do, then still called him friend after he had done it! Adding Satan to the account is clearly part of the story-teller's art. It wouldn't have been such a good story without a little betrayal from a trusted companion, and after all this story does need to be made into a good story if you are expected to believe in the rest of it.
But whatever the reason, his role appears to have been pivotal and his reward was that he died horribly and significantly. In its usual inconsistent way the bible describes (Acts 1:18) how he bought a bit of land with the proceeds of his 'villainy'. These were presumably the proceeds that he had already returned to the priests when he was filled with remorse as described in Matt 27:3.
As it says on Judas Iscariot--In Heaven or in Hell?
"Prior to the betrayal, Judas' only recorded sin was stealing from the money box. The other 11 apostles had accounts recorded of them of sins which included unbelief, lust for position and power, not being mindful of the things of the spirit but of man, all the disciples left Him, Peter denied Him 3 times in one night, falsely condemning people to fire when Jesus said He came to save, etc., etc.."
However, for some reason Judas "fell forward and his entrails poured out" and presumably as a friend of Jesus he should now be in heaven. Somehow I feel that the Old Testament version of god still had some influence at the time though, and that justice (as usual) was the last thing on his mind.