Thousands of years of debate
and speculation have brought us to one conclusion about why Judas did what he did:
We don’t really know.
It’s possible that he was sick of waiting on Jesus to storm the castle like Judas thought he should. Maybe Jesus had challenged him one too many times to stop digging around the piggy bank when he thought no one was looking. Maybe Judas just liked money and thirty pretty pieces of silver seemed like a fair price to kiss and tell. Maybe it was a combination of all of them.
One thing’s for sure. When Judas finally betrayed Jesus, none of the other disciples whirled around to say, “I knew it!”
The betrayal shocked everyone.
As far as we can tell, Judas didn’t have beady eyes or a pointy villain’s beard. He hadn’t been lurking in the shadows or growling in the corner with his grinch fingers drumming. To everyone else, Judas looked like the rest of them did - like Jesus’ friend and disciple, his companion with whom he broke bread and kept pleasant company.
We know from Judas’ reaction after Jesus’ arrest that he believed Jesus was innocent. Maybe he bought into what Jesus was saying after all but sold him out for a little silver anyway.
Just in case Jesus didn't work out, he’d have a little nest egg to fall back on.
We all live with a hierarchy of values just like Judas did; we say one is more important than all the rest and on the surface, it might look like we buy into Jesus, too. We might go to church every Sunday and Neighborhood Group every other week. We might give generously, serve lavishly, but when push comes to shove, sometimes other values take priority and without even realizing it, we’re selling him out too. When faced with a scenario in which I have to choose, even when I buy into Jesus, sometimes I buy into something else just a little bit more.
It’s like this. Imagine I suddenly get a large bonus at work. I want to be the type of person who would give some or all of it away. I buy into that idea that we should feed the hungry and clothe the naked. But the fact is that sometimes, I buy into fancy meals out and new dresses from Anthropologie more.
Or maybe I buy into the idea that gossip is destructive, but on those days when I have a secret, and sharing it will feel so good...sometimes I buy into the sense of connection I feel with the person with whom I’ve shared a confidence more. Or how about at work or at school, when compromising a little integrity, a little camaraderie, might get me ahead, earn me a little favor, get me some recognition, make a better grade...is it really such a big deal?
It might not be what I believe I believe, but in my actions, I demonstrate my true priorities.
I’d imagine many of us love Jesus. And many of us believe that Jesus is pretty great and worthy of our worship. And like Judas, we’ll follow unto death!*
*Until something else comes along that might serve my true values more.
We see it everywhere. How many in our churches claim to follow Jesus but follow the ideals of appearance and beauty and body image more? How many in our churches claim to follow Jesus, but are willing to sacrifice everything we have to achieve wealth, success, the grade, the job more? How many of us claim to follow Jesus but are enslaved to our addictions, our bad habits, or the pursuit of our own pleasure and happiness more? How many of us claim to follow Jesus but are overly concerned with how well our children are progressing compared to our friends’ children or how other parents perceive us more?
Most of us want to have integrity. We want to follow Christ’s lead. We know the consequences of not following Christ and we love who we are when we do. But...what could we buy with 30 shiny new silver dollars? Do we ever want that more?
For so many of us, the problem is not that we don’t buy into Jesus. We do. Our problem is that Jesus doesn't seem like enough. We want a fall-back plan, a nest egg, something else to catch us if this Christ thing falls through.
When we’re tempted to sell Jesus out, we need to examine our priorities and their consequences. Because it’s not that we want to sell out Jesus. Far from it. But at the same time, we have to ask ourselves - in our heart of hearts, what’s standing in front of us that might tug on our heart strings, whispering, “Pssst...here’s a little silver! It’s shiny! All you have to trade is a little integrity. Who has to know?”
So what’s your price? What are you tempted to buy into more than you buy into Jesus? What have you given or shown greater value to in your life than Christ, in thought, word, or deed? What do we lose when we betray Jesus by giving him a public kiss and nabbing a bag of silver in the shadows afterward?
Pastor Brynn Harrington
What have you been tempted to buy into more than you buy into Jesus? If someone were to look at your bank account and the way you spend your money, or peer over your shoulder at your schedule and the way you spend your time, or eavesdrop on all your conversations, what would they walk away believing you believe most in? What other values do you need to release in order to truly follow Christ?
Confess your fear, your doubts, and your greed for money or power or status to Christ.
Today, put thirty coins in your pocket or your handbag and carry them around with you all day. When you hear or feel the money clink, ask yourself where, if anywhere, you have sold Jesus out today. Remember the price of Judas.
Pastor Aaron Engler
- Ps. 55:12-14.