The betrayer at hand- The Holy Week – Wednesday- Mathew 26:14-25
Matthews’s account of the betrayal of Jesus is preceded by the anointing of Jesus feet by ‘a woman’ at the house of Simon the leper. Interestingly in Mathew’s account, the woman is not Mary of Bethany, nor is the meeting at Lazarus’s house, but at Simon’s house. Noteworthy is that Matthew blames ‘all the disciples’ for being ‘angry’ at this ‘wasteful’ use of the expensive ointment.
In Matthew’s Gospel, Judas does not have an active role in the episode, unlike in John’s Gospel. But Matthew continues this incident, of the anointing of Jesus feet, with a Judas incident. Perhaps, a far more deadly one! Matthew thus contrasts the woman’s love with Judas hate.
The Gospels never explicitly tell us why Judas betrayed the Lord. We know that satan entered him and he gave into temptation. What we do see, is what happens after he gives in to satan’s invitation to sin. Judas surely played hardball with the chief priests in negotiating a deal. His question to them is pointed, “What will you give me if I betray Him to you?” The parameters of the deal were clear; it involved betrayal and a consideration.
What was this consideration? We know that Judas settled on silver; we have no idea how long and hard he negotiated. Did he ask for precious stones? And why did he settle for silver and why thirty? Scholars opine that 30 pieces of silver was equivalent to 120 days of work some even suggest a half years salary. In Hebrew culture, thirty pieces of silver was not a lot of money. In fact, it was the exact price paid to the master of a slave, if and when his slave was gored by an ox (Exodus 21:32). The slave’s death was compensated by the thirty pieces of silver.
Perhaps here in lies a thought. This was the price of the life of ‘a slave’. Jesus came to be a slave not a servant, as the English translation has it to be (Doulos in Greek). He ransoms us from satan for the price of a slave; so much does He love us.
I guess that leaves us with Judas’ intention. Why did he betray Jesus who even at the last moment, in the garden of Gethsemane, would call him ‘friend?’ For some reason his heart is away from the ‘Lord’. That’s exactly the word the disciples address Jesus during the last supper, “Lord” (verse 22).They see Jesus as ‘their Lord’ rather than Judas’ acknowledgment of Jesus as “master” verse 25. Judas has still not accepted Jesus as his Messiah.
Sin is a slippery slope. Once you turn the handle and step out, it is hard to stop falling into the gorge of death. Perhaps Judas harboured doubt or anger or hurt against Jesus. Or perhaps his heart was never oriented towards the Lord and was susceptible to the words and temptations of satan.
Whatever be Judas reason, in the end he could not stop himself from falling and even more, from admitting his mistake. He could have repented at the last supper when offered the Body of the Lord. The problem is that he had gotten accustomed to sin, accustomed to the justifying his sins. His last sin at dinner was not betrayal; that was his second last sin. His last sin before he hung himself was the denial of his sin. For scripture tells us:
Then Judas, his betrayer, said in reply,
“Surely it is not I, Rabbi?”
He answered, “You have said so.”
Written on behalf of the Holy Spirit
Fr Warner D’Souza may be contacted on whatsap on +91- 9820242151.
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