Reading: Matthew 26:4-16; 27:1-10

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.

We don’t know much about Judas Iscariot. He was one of the original twelve, hand-picked by Jesus to be His apostle. We know he was the group’s treasurer, and that he objected (along with the other disciples) to Mary “wasting” a great sum of money by pouring a jar of expensive ointment over Jesus’ head. But why did Judas betray Jesus?

It might be easy to answer that Satan made Judas do it, or that it was to fulfill the scriptures, and leave it at that. But Jesus clearly also holds Judas responsible for his choices (Mt. 26:24). What was going on inside Judas? How did he become a traitor?

We know that the disciples expected a very different sort of kingdom than the one Jesus brought. They wanted deliverance from foreign, pagan rule. They thought Jesus would free them from the yoke of Rome. When did they figure out this was not what Jesus had come to do?

Judas goes to the chief priests several days after the “triumphal” entry of Jesus into the capital and heart of Israel – Jerusalem. He had been acclaimed as King, and had accepted the praises of the people. But nothing had happened. Could it be that Judas either began to realize Jesus was not going to overthrow the Roman government after all, or thought maybe His hand could be forced by a confrontation with the Jewish authorities?

We don’t know for sure. But we probably don’t need to look too far into our own minds and hearts to discover that our own expectations of what Jesus should be doing, and how He should do it, may have much more to do with our own misplaced desires than with Jesus and His Kingdom.

The first of Martin Luther’s 95 Theses reads: “When our Lord and Master, Jesus Christ, said, ‘Repent,’ he called for the entire life of believers to be one of repentance.” Though this may sound rather unpleasant, the more we see how subtle our sin is, the more we see how thoroughly and frequently we need to turn from it in godly sorrow, embracing our King for who He is and not who we want Him to be.

Suggested further readings on idolatry (misplaced desires):
Deuteronomy 30
Psalm 81
Isaiah 55
Ezekiel 14:1-11
Jeremiah 2:1-13
Romans 1:20-25
1 John 2:15-18, 5:18-21


Written by Betsy Crowe