Thirty pieces of silver. The price mentioned in the Old Testament if an ox gored a slave. The price the chief priests were willing to pay for Jesus’ betrayal. The price for which Judas Iscariot sold Jesus out. How much would it take us to sell Him out?
We tend to go right for the ham and the chocolate bunnies at Easter or shout “He is risen!” which is followed often by a refrain of “He is risen indeed!” We tend to go for the pastel dresses, the hats, the baskets and the obligatory deviled eggs rather than to study the story of Judas Iscariot.
There are questions here that arise about Judas. How could someone so close to Jesus betray Him? How could someone like that be part of that inner circle? Didn’t he pay attention to the sermons?
Scripture tells us that Judas was in charge of the money for Jesus and the disciples [John 13:29]. John 12 tells us that Judas objected strongly when Mary, sister of Martha and Lazarus, anointed Jesus’ feet at Bethany. But one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray him, objected, “Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages.” 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. “Leave her alone,” Jesus replied. “It was intended that she should save this perfume for the day of my burial.” [verses 4-7].
So he was a thief, a liar, and nearly every mention of him in Scripture carries with it the terrible description of “one who betrayed Jesus,” or “traitor.” What a horrible description of a man, who's entire biblical legacy is one of complete failure and betrayal.
John’s account of the anointing and Judas’ objections doesn’t tell what happened next. All the other Gospel accounts say that immediately after Jesus told him to leave Mary alone, Judas immediately went to the chief priests and posed the question: “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.”
What are you willing to give me if I deliver him over to you? Today we might change the language a little but not the meaning...How many votes can I receive if this organization or that one that goes against Jesus’ teaching supports me? How many friends can I have if I go against biblical teaching?
Sure, we may not put it in those terms, but we sure do by our actions. We speak one thing and act another. We tell our kids to not take the Lord’s name in vain yet we post “OMG” on social media on cute kitten videos. We declare ourselves to be Christians yet we support the killing of the unborn. We don’t want to miss church but our favorite team is playing at 1 p.m., so we just go to the early service like Jesus is up in heaven with His books open up just to put a checkmark beside your name.
Going to church is about worshiping and learning about God and less about your attendance record.
Judas was one of the Twelve….he was a disciple. He saw the water turned into wine, saw the dead raised, the blind to see and the deaf to hear yet he was more concerned about the moneybag that he had his hand in. Once he saw that Jesus was talking not about a Roman uprising but an upcoming sacrifice, and told him to leave Mary alone as she poured expensive perfume over His feet, that was it. He sold Jesus out for thirty pieces of silver.
Many scholars have tried to piece together what amount in today’s terms that would be. Some say $15,000, others say about $700 – the fact is, it doesn’t matter. Not standing up for Jesus is the same as selling Him out. If an incredible job opportunity depends on you not being a Christian, would you take the cross necklace off and put it in the jewelry box?
Judas, filled with remorse after satan left him, the tool he was, hung himself after throwing the “blood money” back to the priests. It’s interesting to note that the high priests were more concerned with how this returned money would look instead of what they had just done. Matthew 27:6-10 states, “The chief priests picked up the coins and said, “It is against the law to put this into the treasury, since it is blood money.” So they decided to use the money to buy the potter’s field as a burial place for foreigners. That is why it has been called the Field of Blood to this day. Then what was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet was fulfilled: “They took the thirty pieces of silver, the price set on him by the people of Israel, and they used them to buy the potter’s field, as the Lord commanded me.”
The same coin was blood money as they were counted out to Judas by the priests. Don’t we do the same thing? We play the lottery and say if we win the $46 million jackpot we’ll give 10% to the church? Maybe we should tithe the money spent on the lottery and trust in God for our provision instead of luck. We sell Jesus out in our speech and actions. It’s hard to tell the Christians from the non-Christians because, too often, they blend in.
But sometimes…sometimes you can spot a Christian that has completely, utterly sold out to Christ. This is different than selling Him out. This is being sold out to Him. The are people who can move mountains with their mustard-seed faith because they know they pray to Almighty God, Who smiles on their prayers and faith. Someone who you know prays for you.
Twelve weeks ago my family experienced a tragedy. My husband was shot and paralyzed in a random crime event. This week has been rough, even though it’s been 12 weeks. I was driving, tears coursing down my cheeks, and prayed, “Abba Father, I don’t have the words to pray…I am utterly overwhelmed and depressed and I feel like a mountain is on my shoulders…” Immediately I hear a still small voice in my heart…Jesus…saying to me, “My yoke is easy and My burden is light. I will pray for you.”
Romans 8:26 says, “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.” How powerful it is to think that the Spirit intercedes for us, that Jesus, sitting at the right hand of God the Father, can lean over and speak our name to Him?
“Father…Terrie….she really needs peace.”
“Father, Terrie – she is sick. She needs to be well.”
“Father, Terrie…the migraines are so bad the words won’t come – Let’s put them there for her.”
At that time, I sudden had the feeling, the knowledge, that someone was lifting me in prayer. What an awesome experience, to know you are being lifted in prayer by a fellow brother or sister in Christ. I have to couple my hands together and give my husband a steady hand-hold when he's transferring from wheelchair to shower bench, or wheelchair to bed. Knowing there are Christians who are lifting you up right then is like having a hand to hold, to lift you when you cannot lift yourself. To steady you, to give you the strength you need through and in Christ to just make it another day.
Being sold out to Jesus is believing that He hears our prayers, groans, tear-filled sobs and understands the words etched on our hearts that don’t pass over our lips. Being sold out to Jesus is knowing that no matter what, He loves us – and this knowledge makes us want to stand up for Him, knowing we may lose some friends along the way…knowing our blog analytics may take a hit, but it doesn’t matter. What matters is, at the end of the day, we live in such a way that there are no regrets about faith.
Judas was filled with regret because he sold Jesus out. He tried to undo it, but he couldn’t. Once you compromise your beliefs in God, you can’t just fix it yourself like he did by returning the thirty pieces of silver. God will forgive you. He will. You have to understand it’s nothing we do, it’s all because of the grace and sacrifice of the Cross. It takes true repentance, turning away from false non-biblical beliefs and asking God for forgiveness.
Judas was a thief who walked with Christ for three years yet had nothing to show for it, except a body that split in two when it finally fell from the noose – because even though he was close to Christ in theory, in reality he was so far away that he was easy pickings for satan’s hands. We can go to church all our lives, have family names in hundred-year-old stained glass and have engraved pews but we can still die and go to hell. We can be so close to Christ without even knowing Him.
Yet, Jesus had only known the thief on another cross three or so hours when Jesus accepted his only gift: the thief's acknowledgement that Jesus is the Son of God and accepted his only request: to remember him when Jesus came into His kingdom. This thief, not the thief who was a disciple, was ushered into heaven that very same day. He became sold out to Jesus even though he only had hours to live.
When we are sold out to Jesus, we don’t want to see that movie or listen to that music because it’s not pure, holy, or glorifying to Him. We want our whole lives to reflect the Son. When we are sold out to Christ, other people who are sold out can see it – and it’s a joy to serve alongside each other.
How do we become sold out to Jesus? It’s not a checkmark type list, my friends. It’s about asking God to work in your life so that you see Him in everything – and if you don’t see Him, run. Fast. Being sold out to Jesus means that whatever may happen in life, you know God is in control. His plans may not be your plans. It was never our plan to have to deal daily with legs that don’t work, round-trips back and forth to his work twice a day to take him and pick him up, or to encounter places that are not handicapped accessible. We never planned this “new normal.”
Yet, our Lord has a plan, and we are humbled that He chose us to be a part of that plan. It’s not easy. But the eternal rewards for living a life sold out to Jesus outnumber the reasons to sell Him out.
© 2016 Terrie McKee