Propelled by a seething anger, Judas pushed his way through the Passover crowds until he reached the Temple. Worship was not at all on his mind. He had had enough. No one understood him, no one seemed to care about his opinion, no one appreciated the depth of his financial loss from three years on a fool’s errand. Well, he was going to get something out of it. And then they would know. They would all know.
Selected to be one of the Twelve, the closest followers and confidants of Christ, he was given the honored position of treasurer. Matthew was definitely more qualified, coming from a finance background as a tax collector, but Judas, who passionately loved money, was given the task. Trusted to be honorable, instead he found it quite easy to hide a coin here and stash a bit of money there. He probably felt this was justified, a payment for his extra duties. But it was embezzlement nonetheless and not as well hidden as he thought.
The final straw for Judas came in Bethany about a week before Passover (John 12:1-8). While Jesus and the disciples were dining with Lazarus, Mary and Martha, Mary demonstrated extravagant devotion by anointing Jesus’ feet with expensive perfume, completing her act by wiping His feet with her hair. This was too much! “One of His disciples, Judas Iscariat, who was later to betray Him, objected, ‘Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages.’ He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it” (vs. 4-6).
Despite his noble claims to care for the poor, Judas suffered a public reproof. “‘Leave her alone,’ Jesus replied. ‘It was meant that she should save this perfume for the day of my burial. You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have Me’” (vs. 7-8). Judas lost on two counts. He was publicly humiliated by Jesus’ rebuke, and he lost any chance of enjoying the financial benefit from the sale of the perfume.
With the memory fresh and the wound still open, he now entered the room for a meeting with the Jewish leaders. They knew he was one of Jesus’ closest followers and were no doubt curious about this mysterious proposal he had. It was plain and simple. “Give me the right price and I’ll deliver Jesus to you.” The leaders were elated. Jesus had become an increasing problem to them.
They hated Him for a host of reasons. First, He was from Nazareth, a country boy from a village known for its lowlifes. He had failed to attend any schools and was apparently taught at an unremarkable synagogue. He had no respect for the high place that the leaders had made for themselves and, worse yet, not only showed no respect but openly attacked them for hypocrisy. And then the display the previous Sunday, with throngs of people treating Him like a king, threatened not only their power within the Jewish religion and culture, but retribution from the Roman rulers who watched this potential revolutionary with hand on sword. But He was always surrounded by these admirers, and just about the time they thought they had the advantage, a fantastic miracle would take place right in front of them. When they sought to engage Him in verbal entrapment, He not only landed on His feet but left the challengers embarrassed for their efforts.
The opportunity provided by Judas was more than they could have imagined. They wasted no time agreeing to the price: 30 pieces of silver, the price of a common slave. A strategy was devised, with Judas promising to be their inside man in bringing down the so–called Messiah.
Judas walked back through the crowds, comforted that he had taken back power and profited to boot. He knew his actions would not only destroy Jesus but end any hopes entertained by the Twelve for their future. But his future was secure. They would lose everything. Only he would come out on top.
He could hear the jingle of the coins as he walked, keeping time with his pace. Today was not just profitable. Today Judas rendezvoused with destiny
By Major Allen Satterlee