“What are you willing to give me if I hand him over to you” (Matthew 26:15)? For Christians who have come to know Jesus Christ personally, every time we read, or hear this question it stuns our minds and shakes us to our souls. How could one who had walked and talked and eaten with Jesus for three years, ever reduce that relationship to such a thought, indeed, such and action.
Judas was one of the Twelve. He had been personally chosen and called by Jesus, just like all of the others. He had seen Jesus give sight to the blind, cure paralytics, exorcise demons, and raise the dead. He had sat close to him with the others and heard him reveal the truth about things. Being with Jesus could not have been an ordinary experience. To have been one so close to Jesus, to have known the tone of his voice, the power of his touch, the penetrating love in his eyes, must have been ‘impressive’ to say the least. Judas would have experienced all of that, yet there was something in him that was willfully blind, deaf, and dumb to the truth of who Jesus was.
Maybe it was the fact that he was the keeper of the purse. He was the one who handled the money. Maybe he saw taking care of the poor, the widow and orphan, the sick as just part of the “business” in this traveling mission he was a part of through the last three years. Maybe he felt he was more important to the mission, and that it wasn’t going the way “he” wanted it to. Maybe he saw that there was the potential for much more income to be made by this mission and wanted it to be more profitable. Maybe he was trying to force Jesus’ hand, to make him do something to prove that he was the Messiah, something grand and stunning, something politically powerful. We don’t know, of course. There is nothing in the scriptures to tell us what was in the mind of Judas, only this one line from his mouth: “What will you give me if I turn him over to you.”
What we can legitimately deduce is that Judas put money before Jesus. He put his faith in 30 pieces of silver, a princely sum in those days. He put his faith in earthly things over those of God. Are we ever in danger of doing the same thing? Yes. If we are honest with ourselves, especially in this culture, we are often tempted to give more credence to money and the immediate and evident power of wealth, than to give ourselves over completely to the love and power of God. During this Holy Week we are challenged to look at our lives, to reflect on what it is that we give the majority of our time, talent, energy, and money to in our daily lives. Are our minds often overwhelmed with worries over money? Do we spend an inordinate amount of time pursuing earthly things as base as the proverbial, “sex, drugs, and rock and roll.” Are we living for the moment? Or are we living for eternity? These are important Holy Week reflections. Contemplating the reasons for, and the goal of, the last three days of Jesus’ life are worthy of us as Christians, as children of God. These three days are at the core of our faith. Indeed, they are the foundation of our salvation.
Lord, help us to see what is in us that keeps us from centering our all in you. Give us the grace to feel sorrow for having offended you, and fill us with a desire to “go and sin no more” (John 8:11). Help us to be good and faithful disciples, for it is in you alone that we find our joy, our peace and our salvation. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen!
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