Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Spy Wednesday: The Day Judas Sold his Saviour...and His Soul.


The price of a Saviour... The price of a Soul. 30 pieces of silver. At the time, the sum was worth the wages of 4 months of labour at the rate of a Denarius.  Yet that was the deal struck between Judas Iscariot, and the Sanhedrin, that in exchange for betraying Jesus to them, Judas would receive that sum.


Despite recent attempts by revisionists and theological liberals to rehabilitate Judas and paint him as some kind of hero,  Scripture itself, from which we get everything we do know about Judas does not support such revisionism.


We first meet Judas when the 12 apostles were called from among all the disciples have all been called, in MK 3:14-15, a passage which ends with “...and Judas Iscarot, who betrayed him”.

So just who was Judas, and what could have possessed him to sell Jesus to the religious authorities who wanted Him dead?  One can deduce from scripture that Judas may have been a bit of an outsider among the 12. All were Galileans except-possibly- Judas.  We do not know for certain, but it is probable , because of his name “Iscariot” which is thought to mean “of Carioth”  that his family hailed from the region of “Carioth Hesron”, in Judea, near Jerusalem. 

Israel was far from a united entity at the time under Roman rule. Judeans tended to look upon Galileans as impure and less civilized than themselves, and this was further complicated  by the fact that the half breeds of Samaria inhabited the land that se[prated them.  Though part of the Roman Empire, they were ruled separately, with Herod Antipas having jurisdiction over Galilee while Pontius Pilate ruled as procurator over Judea in Jerusalem.  Thus an element of camaraderie may have existed between the Galileans from which Judas may have felt excluded. This would be combined with the disdain in which most Judeans held the Galileans.

Another factor that likely contributed to Judas becoming disillusioned may have been the idea of the suffering Messiah.  Most Judeans, who would have studied under the Pharisees and scribes would have had the concept of a warrior-Messiah who would ride in and lead he overthrow of the hated Romans, and a Kingdom on earth. When Jesus turned out to be the suffering messiah, and that the kingdom was to come about after his suffering and dying, he may have wondered why he was with them.  It is possible that Simon the Zealot, who was one of the violent Sicarii before he became a follower of Jesus also saw Jesus originally as the warrior messiah, but it is clear that his heart was legitimately converted, and understood that Jesus would be different.

We do not know exactly when Judas reached the tipping point in his mind, where he, like all of us needed to make that final decision on who Jesus was to Him,  but there are hints that his heart may have turned quite a both before that fateful Passover week in Jerusalem.  Some have speculated that when the Eucharist was first explained by Jesus in John 6, that Judas may have had his moment of truth then and there, but maintained his silence, and control of the purse.  Peter spoke up on behalf of the apostles  when he said “You have he words of life. To whom shall we go?”  Judas , by his silence was likely assumed by the others to be giving his assent to Peter’s words as they were.
But Jesus said “Did I not choose you, the Twelve, yet one of you is a devil?”  Did Jesus perhaps see something he others missed? It could be tat from that point on, Judas began living a lie.

Over a year passes before we read about Judas again., and he surfaces at the dinner, on he Saturday before the Crucifixion. A woman, identified as Mary in some accounts, came in while Jesus was dining with the Apostles at the home of a Pharisee named Simon the Leper.  She breaks open an expensive Alabaster jar containing Very expensive Spikenard, which was reckoned at a value of 300 Denarii, which was nearly a year of workman’s wages, or as Philip calculated, “Enough to feed 5000 people” , and poured it on Jesus, in his hair and on his feet.   All the apostles started protesting at what they saw as a terrible waste.  However, John who wrote about it singled out Judas’ protest,  that the Spikenard could have been sold and the proceeds given to the poor.  John’s reaction was to record the incident, once again, taking a moment to take a swipe at Judas, as all his references to the man seem to do, by the snide remark pointing out that “Not because Judas actually cared for the poor, but was a thief, and he also held the common purse and would help himself to the contents.

Finally we come to Wednesdays, and the reason it became known as “Spy Wednesday”. Judas made his way to the palace in which the high priest resided, and had little trouble gaining an audience  there once he made clear the purpose of his visit, to strike a deal whereby he would betray Jesus to them.   No doubt there was haggling and negotiation of the kind one sees regularly in middle eastern bazaars, and the price of 30 pieces of silver  was finally agreed to.  Whether Judas and the high Priest knew it at the time or not, this was to fulfill the Old Testament prophecy found in  Zechariah 11:12 –13 . “So they weighed out as my wages 30 pieces of Silver. Then the Lord Said to me, “Throw it into the Treasury”- This Lordly price at which I was valued by hem.” .

And so Judas, who has walked with Jesus- the Son of God Himself- for three years, listening to his teaching, sharing friendship, and just being in his presence had become a paid spy for those who sought to destroy Jesus, and with he promise of he silver,  he returned to the 12, and would join them for the last time at the Passover Seder which they would eat the next day in the upper room, and where his treachery would be fulfilled.

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