Holy Week - Wednesday
What can we say about Judas? Here was a man who was one of Jesus’ inner circle, one of the twelve disciples whom Jesus had called to be his follower. He’d walked with Jesus for three years, and seen great wonders: Lazarus raised from the dead; and a storm calmed with word. He’d seen him teach with authority, giving us the Sermon on the Mount, and the Lord’s prayer. He’d witnessed the relationship Jesus had with God, his Father.
Not only that but Judas was a trusted member of this inner circle, acting as the treasurer and responsible for the pursestrings. The other disciples regarded him as a friend, and when at the Last Supper Jesus said that one would betray him they didn’t all point to Judas. Instead they all wondered: “is it I?”. This is the man who betrayed his Master. A close associate and trusted companion.
Betray him he did. The authorities in quandary as they were seeking ways to rid themselves of Jesus. There were hundreds of thousands in Jerusalem for Passover, and if they arrested him openly then maybe there would be a riot. Remember Palm Sunday, when the crowds cheered Jesus. Remember that the Passover is the annual reminder of liberation from Egypt. Many would have thought that Jesus would do the same and liberate them from Rome! What could the authorities do? He was too popular.
Judas gave them their answer. He would lead them to Jesus in some quiet spot, away from crowds. He would give them Jesus, and would give him thirty pieces of silver. Thirty pieces! According to Exodus, that was the compensation you would give to someone if their slave was accidentally killed. Judas sold his master for the price of a slave.
Why? We can only guess, but perhaps it was disappointment with Jesus. It took a long time for the disciples to understand what Jesus’ kingdom would look like. Even after resurrection, they expected Jesus to reign over an earthly kingdom. “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” they asked. Can you imagine the excitement as Jesus entered Jerusalem to popular acclaim. This is it! It is Passover time! Now we’ll overthrow the Romans. And then Jesus blows it. He doesn’t seize the moment.
Maybe Judas began to realise Jesus was going to die. All those predictions which Jesus had given began to fall into place and Judas was disappointed, let down. This is not the best way! This is not the way it should be.
This happens to us too. Have you been disappointed that someone you’ve been praying for has not become a Christian? Are you disappointed with your circumstances? Is Christianity not what you thought it would be?
If that is case, and I guess for all of us at some time or other it is, then beware. Don’t sell Jesus cheaply. Judas only got a few coins in return for his salvation. When you are feeling out of sorts with God then the temptation to turn your back is strongest.
So what is the antidote? Well, begin by telling God. The Psalms are full of the complaints of disappointed believers, and we can use them to help. Then trust God - his timing is better than ours. Finally, watch God: look for his actions; look for his answer; listen to his voice.
But whatever you do, don’t sell your saviour.