Judas Iscariot left the somber Upper Room after he had his feet washed by Jesus, the night of the Last Supper, and visited the high priests to deliver Jesus into their hands.
Why the timing on this? Why not leave before, or wait a few days for the high priests to go after Jesus themselves? The answer is in what happened just a couple of days and, indeed, hours before.
On Sunday, Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey – a victor’s welcoming, palm branches and all. He accepted this welcoming and did not stop the shouting of praises. Monday, He drove the money-changers from the temple with authority and railed against the Pharisees and Sanhedrin.
Jesus, then, delivered a series of powerful, no-holds-barred parables on Tuesday. For someone like Judas Iscariot, who was the holder of the ministry’s treasury, Jesus’ words must have made his jaw drop as he realized Jesus was not here for an earthly kingdom.
I can only imagine what Judas thought when the Pharisees sought to trap Jesus with His words. Maybe now, Judas may have thought – maybe now Jesus will tell them He’s come to lay waste to the Romans. But when the Pharisees asked, “Tell us then, what is your opinion? Is it right to pay the imperial tax to Caesar or not?” [Matthew 22:17].
Then Jesus, knowing they were trying to trap Him, opened His precious mouth with the powerful words, “You hypocrites, why are you trying to trap me? Show me the coin used for paying the tax.” They brought him a denarius, and he asked them, “Whose image is this? And whose inscription?”
“Caesar’s,” they replied.
Then he said to them, “So give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.” [Matthew 22:18b-21].
Maybe, Judas may have thought, maybe he hadn’t heard right. Surely Judas’ savior was this man Jesus. Where was the profit in giving back to Caesar and giving back to God? When the disciples followed Him away from the temple and to the Mount of Olives, Judas heard Jesus’ words again, this time detailing for His most loyal followers what the end times would entail. “Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me,” Jesus said in Matthew 24:9.
For someone like Judas, who only heard what he wanted to hear, Jesus’ words about the servants with the masters’ gold must have bee-lined straight for his ears. “‘So take the bag of gold from him and give it to the one who has ten bags. For whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth,’” [Matthew 26:28-30].
To add injury to insult, in Judas’ depraved mind, there’s Jesus, talking with important people around the dinner table – when in walks this…. woman…
“A woman came to him with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, which she poured on his head as he was reclining at the table. When the disciples saw this, they were indignant. “Why this waste?” they asked. “This perfume could have been sold at a high price and the money given to the poor.”
Aware of this, Jesus said to them, “Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a beautiful thing to me. The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me. When she poured this perfume on my body, she did it to prepare me for burial. Truly I tell you, wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her,” [Matthew 26:7-13].
You see, Judas had his hand in the moneybag all along. John wrote, “He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it,” [John 12:6]. He didn’t care about the poor; he cared about making a profit for himself.
That very night, after Jesus rebuked him, he made a clandestine visit to see the high priests, who had been looking for a way to grab Jesus. Matthew 26 states, “Then one of the Twelve — the one called Judas Iscariot — went to the chief priests and asked, “What are you willing to give me if I deliver him over to you?” So they counted out for him thirty pieces of silver. From then on Judas watched for an opportunity to hand him over,” [14-16].
Why 30 pieces of silver? That’s an awfully exact amount. Listen: in the study of Scripture, there are lessons in such specifics. Looking back in the Old Testament, Exodus 21:32, what is the price of a slave? “If the bull gores a male or female slave, the owner must pay thirty shekels of silver to the master of the slave, and the bull is to be stoned to death.”
Thirty shekels of silver.
Jesus’ was sold off by someone who believed whole-heartily in the prosperity gospel for thirty pieces of silver. The price of a slave.
Judas initiated the betrayal – the high priests did not approach him. Judas was so close to Christ – called one of the Twelve throughout the Gospels – but he still did not get it.
We can go to church all our lives, be this close to Christ….and still die, destined for hell – all because we did not believe. The price of a slave became the price of a Savior – the ultimate in servant-hood.
How do we sell Jesus out? Sure, we may not do it for money… or do we? We change jobs, seeking more money, without praying for the Father’s will on it. Huge mega-churches are filled, thousands upon thousands – all there not for a relationship with Christ, but for supposed blessings that are preached about from the pulpit.
If there were monetary blessings to be had in the Kingdom of God today, missionaries wouldn’t have to beg. Churches wouldn’t die for lack of funds. Christ-centered ministries to help with foster children and orphans and widows wouldn’t have to hold fundraisers. The blessings are not in money, but in God. God alone is the Provider and the Provision. God provides the means necessary to take care of children in foster care.
Listen: the only Gospel Jesus every preached was and is Himself. Paul wrote in 1 Timothy 6:3-5 that preaching and living a religion that has as its core health, wealth and happiness is false doctrine: “If anyone teaches otherwise and does not agree to the sound instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ and to godly teaching, they are conceited and understand nothing. They have an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words that result in envy, strife, malicious talk, evil suspicions and constant friction between people of corrupt mind, who have been robbed of the truth and who think that godliness is a means to financial gain.”
What would Paul have said about Judas Iscariot, the man that sold Jesus out for 30 pieces of silver? 1 Timothy 6:9-11 sheds some light on this: “Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.”
The price Christ paid to be our Savior was one of immense pain, and truly, separation from One Fellowship with God the Father. The price Christ paid was much greater than the price the high priests were willing to pay for His betrayal – yet, Judas accepted it. Do we sell Christ out by our words, action and deeds? Or money?
Do we want the blessing more than the One Who Blesses?
© 2017 Terrie McKee
This post may contain affiliate links to products and/or services, including those available on Amazon.com, as Near Your Altar is a participating member in the Amazon Affiliate Program in addition to other retail affiliates. These affiliate links help provide for this website as well as a small income to my family and I. Please consider clicking on the links to purchase or to browse the affiliate's website, which will open in a new window. We thank you for your support. ~ Terrie
Read Disclosure Policy here