Have you sold him for less? Wednesday, in Holy Week – Matthew 26:24-25

Have you sold him for less? Wednesday, in Holy Week – Matthew 26:24-25

For the last two weeks, post-Laetare Sunday, we have heard the proclamation of John’s Gospel. Yet today we hear a text from the Gospel according to Matthew because it brings us up to speed with details that led to the death of Jesus. This is the third straight day in Holy Week that Judas will find mention in the Gospel and he will do so for all the wrong reasons.

Why should we focus on a betrayer rather than a Saviour? The answer is simple; the age of betrayers will never end as long as satan continues to hover around. This defeated enemy does not take defeat too well. Remember this; he succeeded in getting into the mind of one of the twelve. These were the closest to Jesus. He does not need everyone to work for him, he only needs one; he may just need you! Judas cracked open the door of his life to satan when he began to steal from the common fund and satan pushed his way right in. The game was now afoot, and the plot now thickens.

Some might think that Judas was a fait accompli; no, he was not. Do not let your mind afford such frivolous thoughts.  It is not that Judas was ‘chosen’ from the beginning to be the betrayer. His compulsions, whatever they may be, are exposed by his words that condemn him. He went to the chief priests. He negotiated a deal for a consideration of money. It was greed that satan used to trip him into the fires of hell. This was all Judas’ doing.

But while greed was his motivation one finds the consideration ridiculously low. This was the base price set in the scriptures for the price of a slave (Exodus 21:32). So why would one who is greedy settle on such a base price? Perhaps enjoyed to his ‘need for greed’ was also an animosity that Judas harboured against Jesus.

The text preceding this one tells us that Jesus was at the home of Simon the Leper when a woman (In John’s Gospel it is Mary) takes an alabaster jar of very costly ointment (in John’s Gospel it is pure nard) and pours it on his head (in John’s Gospel it is his feet). The disciples are very angry asking why was this ointment not sold for a large sum of money and given to the poor (In John’s Gospel it is Judas).

Perhaps Judas was miffed by the rebuke of Jesus when he said, “Leave her alone.” Perhaps he questioned if this was the Messiah. Perhaps, being the only Judean among the eleven Galilean disciples, he felt left out. Whatever his reason, he actively chose to betray the Son of God. Betrayal of God does not necessarily need a price. God is betrayed for far smaller considerations today.

Think of a punishment you would give to one who betrayed you so cheaply. I am sure you are conjuring up some dreadful scenarios in your head. To a man whom Jesus knew was betraying him, a seat at an intimate meal was reserved. Judas was still welcome to sit at the table of grace. There was still a chance to make things right but he chose not to. Why do I say I say so? The RSV translation of the Bible gives us the clue.

Jesus announces midway into the meal that one of the twelve would betray him. Their shock is understandable and the response is remarkable for two reasons. None of them looked around the table and pointed a finger at a possible suspect. Each in their turn asked, “Is it I, LORD?” Only Judas asked, “Is it I, RABBI?” For the rest, Jesus was Lord, the Messiah, the Saviour. For Judas, he was still A TEACHER, like any other teacher of that time, easily dispensable. Big mistake Judas, big mistake!

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