But Judas Iscariot said,"Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and the money given to the poor?"
If you were a friend of Jesus in the first century, could you see yourself behaving any differently from Judas? If we value money, security, and always having ourselves come out on top, then we will betray Jesus. It is only a matter of time.
If you read John chapters 12 - 13 and Matthew 26 together, you get a much fuller picture of Judas. It’s almost too good of a snapshot for Judas’ motives and ours line up. Judas values money, security, and always being seen to do the right thing. Hey, those are my values too. While it may be convenient to say “the devil made Judas do it,” or that it was fate, this isn’t biblical.
Like a prosecuting DA, we must lay out a case based upon the facts. Unfortunately, Matthew and John have a different order to their stories. But the character of Judas, and its implications for our own propensity for betrayal, has veracity.
Judas is given a specific amount, thirty pieces of silver. Jesus is the most unquantifiable presence in our lives. In the passion story, irony drips blood. We often trade the invaluable for the known quantity. We leave open ended grace and head for the certainty of written doctrine. We trade mercy for law. We trade the joy of seeking for the security of our life with the 99 in the fold. We move from being children of a heavenly father who owns the sheep on every hill, to the employees of an institution that provides us with a weekly allowance. We take our thirty pieces of silver and walk away from the mystery of what lies beyond door number 3.
I’ve been hearing a lot about church splits these days. The story goes like this, the denomination loosens one of its policies. The people go to their local priest or pastor and say, “Didn’t we always believe X-Y-Z?” The only real answer to this question is, “We are not in the ‘certainty’ business, we are in the ‘seeking’ business.” An oil firm may have a division devoted to exploration. If the management puts a production quota on these geologists, neither the division nor the company will last long.
If you start at the beginning of Matthew 26, the order of events is this: