Then one of the twelve, whose name was Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, “What will you give me if I deliver him over to you?” And they paid him thirty pieces of silver. And from that moment he sought an opportunity to betray him.
(Matthew 26:14-16 ESV)
Yesterday we studied the story of Mary and how she recklessly used her resources to honor Jesus, not caring about the financial loss. Today we read the story of man who was just the opposite. He cared more about money than about Jesus. His story is just as famous as Mary’s, albeit for a very different reason.
Every word in the Bible is important and today’s passage begins with a very important word: “then“. This tells us that what happens next was initiated by what happened before. Mary’s actions had an effect on Judas Iscariot, one of Jesus’ twelve disciples. Or, more precisely, Jesus’ actions (or non-action) towards Mary’s actions drove Judas to the chief priests and offer to deliver Jesus over to them.
Notice that Judas called Jesus “him”. He didn’t use Jesus’ name. This tells me that he had spoken to these men before about the possibility of betraying Jesus but had decided against it for whatever reason. But now he is ready. There is no need to mention Jesus’ name because this had all been discussed before.
It seems that Judas had been harboring doubts about Jesus for some time, wondering if Jesus was the real deal or was a fraud. Up until now he gave Jesus the benefit of the doubt. But now Judas is ready to pull the trigger on his betrayal. He is so ready that all he wants in return is thirty pieces of silver – the amount of money it cost to buy a slave. This was also the precise amount prophesied hundreds of years earlier [Zechariah 11:12].
Jesus had permitted Mary to pour the perfume on Him without rebuking her. So Judas rebuked her [Matthew 26:6-13]. But then Jesus rebuked Judas for rebuking Mary. This seemingly was the final straw for Judas and He decided once-and-for-all that Jesus was a fraud. So he turns His back on Jesus.
But not only was Judas too prideful to accept rebuke, he had a faulty opinion of who Jesus was. He, like the other disciples, certainly thought Jesus going to overthrow Rome and liberate the Jews from tyrannical Roman rule. He made His ill-fated decision based on who He thought Jesus should be rather than on who Jesus actually was.
How many people do the very same thing? They hear the rebuke of Jesus for their sin and instead of reacting with humble repentance out of respect for God’s authority and wisdom, they become enraged and decide they want nothing to do with Him. Or they have an opinion of Jesus that is flat-out wrong and when He doesn’t live up to those misguided expectations they use that as the basis for denying Him. So Instead they pursue the things of life (e.g. money) that offer pleasure that is at best fleeting and can in no way be permanent.
When we realize and accept exactly who Jesus is – God in the flesh [Philippians 2:5-8] – we can also accept His correction of our thoughts and actions. In fact, we embrace His correction because it comes from a God who corrects out of His love for us [Proverbs 12:1; Hebrews 12:6 et. al]. But when we hold on to our human pride and deny who Jesus really is, life ends in disaster.
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