Thursday, October 27, 2011

Matthew 26:14–16

Matthew 26:14–16 (ESV): Judas to Betray Jesus


This is a very short passage, but in terms of the “plotline” of the Gospels it’s a very important one: Judas Iscariot goes to the chief priests and offers to betray Jesus to them, for a price. They pay him thirty pieces of silver, and from this point on Judas is looking for an opportunity to betray Jesus into their hands.


The story of Judas betraying Jesus—of which this is only the first act—is so well known that to this day we call someone a “Judas” if they betray someone, and if someone receives payment for a betrayal we call it their “thirty pieces of silver.” And with good reason; there hasn’t been a bigger betrayal in the history of the world: a man who was never guilty of any wrong-doing toward anyone is going to be given up to the authorities for a punishment he doesn’t deserve. It is, however, the reason Jesus came to earth in the first place, so in a sense this is actually a good thing; this is the means of accomplishing what needed to be accomplished for the salvation of every Christian in the world. It’s probably the reason Jesus chose Judas to be a disciple in the first place. (I have a hard time attributing hard-and-fast cause and effect when it comes to the actions of God, especially when it comes to Jesus the man since there are some things he actually doesn’t know, but at the same time we can never forget that God is in control of everything—nothing happens by chance, from His perspective.)

There are some things about Judas’ betrayal I don’t understand, however. For example, why did he do it? Is it because he was upset with Jesus about that anointing business we read about in the last passage? Is he disappointed with Jesus, having expected a military leader (as everyone else did)? Has he decided that Jesus is a fraud? Is it literally just for the thirty pieces of silver? I don’t get Judas’ motives here, but mostly because I’m assuming that it’s about more than just the money.

The other thing I don’t understand about Judas’ betrayal is the manner in which he betrays Jesus: when the time comes he doesn’t actually seem to do anything except walk up to Jesus, and then the people who’ve come to take him… take him. It makes it seem like the people going to capture Jesus don’t know what he looks like, and so they need Judas to point him out to them, which doesn’t make much sense to me. But I’m getting ahead of myself, as we haven’t gotten to that part of the story yet…

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