Matthew 26:14-16; Mark 14:10-11; Luke 22:3-6; John 13:27; Zechariah 11:12-13
On Wednesday, we remember how Judas Iscariot betrayed Jesus. He negotiated with the Sanhedrin, the rabbinical court of ancient Israel, to turn Jesus over to them.
How could one of Jesus’s closest friends betray him? He had traveled with him, followed his footsteps, sat under his teachings, stayed up late talking in the night. Could he really turn his back on him like this?
The gospel accounts say that “Satan entered into him.” Does that mean Satan forced him to do it? As nice as it is to think that Judas isn’t fully responsible for the betrayal of Jesus, he is. There are only two supernatural powers at play: the will of God and the Evil One. We are either serving God or we are serving the devil. There is no altruistic, neutral “Universe” guiding our steps.
It was Judas’ choice, and it wasn’t just one choice, it was a series of bad decisions. The first decision was to confer with the chief priests. The second was agreeing to their terms. And then he had to intentionally seek an opportunity to betray him.
And for what? Thirty pieces of silver. In Biblical times, that was equivalent to four months wages. It was the exact price paid to a master if his slave died by an ox (Exodus 21:32). That’s all they considered Jesus to be worth. While it’s not an insignificant amount, it certainly wasn’t a get rich quick scheme. Was he really doing it for the money?
Many scholars chalk it up to greed but others believe he became disenchanted when Jesus didn’t prove to be the political leader he had hoped. He was caught up in the narrative of overthrowing the Roman Empire. Alternatively, historians say that the Jewish authorities viewed a rebellion as potentially dangerous for the Jewish people. Could Judas have handed Jesus over in order to prevent a larger rebellion?
While we may never understand Judas’ motives, we know he regretted his actions. Fulfilling Zechariah’s prophecy, he gave the silver to the temple and later hung himself in the field they purchased with the blood money. The guilt and regret was enough to kill him.
While it’s easy to vilify Judas, remember, Judas isn’t responsible for Christ’s death. It was our sin that held Him there. We are all guilty of condemning Christ to the cross. May Judas’ shocking betrayal remind us to question our own motives and consider where our loyalties lie. Just because someone is in ministry or serving the church does not mean they love Christ. If someone who followed so closely to Jesus could turn his back on him, we must guard our hearts and minds from loving the things of this world more than we love the Lord. Popularity. Money. Family. Friends. Political Ideology. Nothing should come before Christ.
After giving himself over to the wiles of the Enemy, Judas returned to Jesus to partake in the Last Supper together, where he waited for the perfect moment to strike.
- Judas betrayed Jesus for a cost. What is Jesus worth to you? Your popularity? Your entertainment choices? Your freedom? Your business relations? What about your life? At what cost will you follow Christ?
- If you aren’t following the will of God, you are falling into the wiles of the Evil One. Who are you choosing to serve with your life?