We read about “the Twelve,” but Jesus had more than twelve followers. (In Luke 10, he sent out at least 70.) All four gospels specify that Judas was “one of the Twelve,” because “the Twelve” were the ones Jesus was closest to. Treachery is always sad, but this was a shocking betrayal by a member of Jesus’ inner circle.
- Exodus 21:32 said if you accidentally killed or badly hurt a slave, you owed the owner 30 pieces of silver. That was about five weeks’ wages for an average worker, a modest price—but it was Judas’ price. What does it mean to you to be loyal to Jesus? In what ways do you show how much that loyalty means to you?
- The only reason the gospels give for Judas choice is a desire for money (e.g. John 12:4-6). How easy or hard do you find it to accept Jesus’ teaching that “life does not consist in an abundance of possessions” (Luke 12:15)?
Oh the late night youth group college discussions that Judas has sparked. The what happened to him, the why did he do it questions that arise out of tension with this story. On the surface, it is easy to dislike Judas, he sold out his friend, teacher and the very the Son of God for 30 pieces of silver, a despicable act.
I would venture however, that we (yes this is a you and I thing) have sold him out for far less. Not to be overly pious, but its true we do not live fully into our baptismal nature as forgiven and blessed children of God. When we fail to live into our potential, to live up to the high price that was poured out for us in Christ, we betray him. So this makes all those discussions about Judas more complicated and personal.
I remember the essence of another heated discussion we got into in high school when we learned about the concept of the “ends justifying the means.” I said essence because I don’t remember the class, teacher or anything else, but I do remember a heated discussion and inner struggle when it came to wrestling with this. At first the black and white of it was a no brainer, of course to do a good thing you should be able to do whatever is necessary, and then you started to recognize the complications to this choice, the ramifications could at times be endless, and very profound just because you did what you thought was a good thing.
In someways I think this may be a part of why Judas did what he did. I don’t think it was a straight out money grab, the silver really wasn’t that much, but I truly believe that he thought this could be a win win for him. Selling out Jesus may have been justified by Judas because it would get him off the dime, (as it were) cause him and his followers to finally take some action and if he got a few bucks for his efforts so be it. The revolution would be underway, he would get what he wanted and in the process, its not the silver that caused Judas to betray Jesus, but it was Judas desire for his own outcomes, plans and desires that betrayed Jesus.
So maybe a good lenten question for us is where do our desires and dreams even for good things get in the way of or even betray God’s will for us? Big question I know. But it is Lent, bring the question to the cross.