Wednesday of Holy Week - Jesus’ Betrayal is Planned

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"Then one of the twelve, who was called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, 'What will you give me if I betray him to you?' They paid him thirty pieces of silver. And from that moment he began to look for an opportunity to betray him" - Matthew 26:14-16

Before arriving at the Last Supper, Judas had already agreed to betray Jesus. Jesus predicted his betrayal at the Last Supper; and following the meal, Jesus sent Judas away, saying, "Do quickly what you are going to do" (John 13:27). Within a few hours Judas would arrive in the Garden of Gethsemane, leading guards, dispatched by the priests, to arrest Jesus.

Why did Judas betray Jesus?

This is a question that believers have debated for nearly two thousand years. Some have speculated that Judas was a Zealot who began following Jesus anticipating that he would lead an uprising against the Romans. When it became clear that this was not Jesus' plan, Judas, in disappointment, betrayed Jesus.

Others have suggested that Judas, by his actions, hoped to force Jesus to rise up against the religious authorities and the Romans.

Or, perhaps Judas, who already felt a bit at odds with the other disciples, was offended when Jesus chastised him at a supper in Bethany during the last week of Jesus' life.

In these scenarios, Judas' politics may have come before his faith, or perhaps Judas' disappointment or hurt led him to succumb to evil.

We likely will not know the full motives of Judas' heart, but the Gospels do tell us that among his motives was a desire for money. John reports that Judas, as keeper of the money used in the ministry of Jesus, would occasionally steal from those funds (John 12:4-6). Matthew tells us that Judas approached the chief priests asking, "What will you give me if I betray him to you?" (Matthew 26:15). They paid him thirty pieces of silver--about five weeks' wages for an average worker.

As Adam Hamilton tells us in his book, "24 Hours that Changed the World: 40 Days of Reflection," ‘Money has a strange way of affecting us. Paul tells us that “the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil” (1 Timothy 6:10).
Jesus was tempted with riches by the devil and regularly preached about the struggle human beings have with the desire for wealth. That struggle is still with us today. On several occasions Jesus spoke to people struggling with greed. He told the man we call "the rich young ruler" that the only way he could break free of his love of possessions was to part with them all, giving everything away to the poor. On another occasion he told a man struggling with greed, "one's life does not consist in the abundance of possessions" (Luke 12:15). Hamilton goes on to say, “I have committed these words to memory and frequently repeat them, as I am regularly tempted to focus on acquisition.”’

My friends, eventually, the love of money can and will come into conflict with our love of God. In Judas' case, the love of money won out. Slowly and by degrees, he came to rationalize him taking from the common purse AND ultimately, his betrayal of Jesus.

Do you ever find your faith in conflict with your finances?

Are you willing to give as God calls you to?

Are you completely honest in your business dealings? on your tax return?

Do you ever compromise your values in order to make the sale, close the deal, or get the raise?

Please pray with me…

Lord, forgive me for the times I have compromised my faith for the sake of having more. Help me to remember that my life "does not consist in the abundance of [my] possessions" and to desire to serve you with all that I am and all that I have. Amen.
Apr 17 2019