This morning as I continue to work through the final hours of Jesus’ life, perhaps revealing the worst of people and politics, I am taken again by the actions of Judas, my unfortunate similarities and the predictable response of the chief priests.
Judas was in shock when he finally realized that the man he had set up to display the power of God, witnessed time after time by the disciples, now seemed powerless to deliver himself from Pilot. He had wrongly surmised that Jesus, under the threat of death, would rescue himself, come out of His spiritual closet, finally unveiling the mission that Judas and the others had hoped, the routing the Romans.
Tormented by his error, Judas flings the money at the feet of his religious leaders, hoping to right their joint wrongs, only to witness the epitome of politics. I can imagine the ceremonial fashion these “church leaders” had become so adept at, silently conspiring with each other to protect their institutional image, simply adjust their religious regalia, bending their knee almost prayerfully, as they slowly begin to pick up the coins. They recite the regulation that prevents blood money from being received in their treasury, though they were the very source of the blood money. Then in a self-righteous move that will play well in the “newspaper” they offer the money to a “non-profit” for purchase of a burial place for foreigners. These guys were good!
I love the fact that God had already predicted just such a move in the conversations of Zechariah 11:12-13 (KJV):
“If ye think good, give me my price; and if not, forbear. So they weighed for my price thirty pieces of silver.
And the Lord said unto me, Cast it unto the potter: a goodly price that I was prised at of them. And I took the thirty pieces of silver, and cast them to the potter in the house of the Lord.”
The distraught Judas then took his own life as indicated might happen in Matthew 26:23-24 (NIV): “”The one who has dipped his hand into the bowl with me will betray me. The Son of Man will go just as it is written about him. But woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man! It would be better for him if he had not been born.” These words from a compassionate Christ, not of condemnation perhaps but one of caution, for Jesus already knew Judas’ personality, what he had done and what he might be inclined to do to himself..
I wonder if Judas had missed the merciful side of the Lord, in his zealous distraction and scheming efforts to help the leader he so admired? His life might have gone differently had he been more intimate than strategic.