[From January 29, 2016]
"Then one of the twelve, who was called Judas Iscariot, went to he chief priests and said, 'What will you give me if I betray him to you?' They paid him 30 pieces of silver. And from that moment, he began to look for an opportunity to betray him."
It was Dante who conjectured of all the regions of hell, the one at the deepest core would be reserved for Judas Iscariot - the betrayer of Jesus. Indeed, Judas has quite a black mark on his name because of his actions during Jesus' final week on earth.
Scripture (the book of John) tells us that Judas was the treasurer of the disciples. He handled the money. We don't know if they had much money between them. Did they pool their savings when they started? Did they get donations along the way? Were there wealthy benefactors? We're not sure. But Judas must have been good with finances & numbers. Is it surprising, then, to discover that it was money that became his downfall (or at least his temptation)?
30 pieces of silver. It was worth about 120 denarii. A denarius was a day's wage. So this was 1/3 a year's salary. Did Judas negotiate that figure or just take their first offer? Was he that desperate for money, or just disillusioned with Jesus (or as his role as a disciple?)? One third of a year's salary doesn't seem like it's that much, actually. Especially for something as big as betraying the Savior of the World!
I've heard a pastor once say that whatever our strength is - whatever we're best at or most interested in or excel around - THAT has the potential of becoming our downfall. Like Judas and money. As I reread this story today, I wondered... what would I be most likely to betray Jesus over? I don't think it would be money (though the $1.5B Powerball Lottery drawing earlier this month started me fantasizing about acquiring incredible wealth). Would it be fame & celebrity? Though I like to be liked (who doesn't?!) I've never really sought to move in those circles. Sex seems to be another lure that many pastors succumb to. Maybe it's because we're in the business of loving others & empathizing with folks... is sexual indiscretions this taken to the extreme? Actually, LOTS of people succumb to this. That's no excuse, though. I pray that my marriage with Jody and our love for each other will keep me vigilant in this department.
I don't know what I might betray Jesus for. Hopefully nothing. But if one of Jesus' closest friends could do it, I'm not immune. How tragic that Judas gave him up for a mere 30 pieces of silver... and then once he got it, realized his mistake. He never even "enjoyed" the "reward." (Which tells me that the lure of temptation rarely satisfies.)
Lord, I want to enjoy you, not temptation. Keep me loyal and faithful. AMEN.