Luke 22:1-6 The Plot to kill Jesus
1 Now the festival of Unleavened Bread, which is called the Passover, was near. 2 The chief priests and the scribes were looking for a way to put Jesus to death, for they were afraid of the people.
3 Then Satan entered into Judas called Iscariot, who was one of the twelve; 4 he went away and conferred with the chief priests and officers of the temple police about how he might betray him to them. 5 They were greatly pleased and agreed to give him money. 6 So he consented and began to look for an opportunity to betray him to them when no crowd was present.
Matthew 26:14-16 Judas Agrees to Betray Jesus
14 Then one of the twelve, who was called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests 15 and said, ‘What will you give me if I betray him to you?’ They paid him thirty pieces of silver. 16 And from that moment he began to look for an opportunity to betray him.
Who is this? Who is this Jesus?
Yesterday, in the story of the anointing of Jesus by Mary, we saw that Jesus is one who is loved. Jesus is deeply loved. Jesus is adored. Jesus is the subject of devotion. We also saw that Jesus accepts love and will not have it denied by others. We too can discover that relationship of love with Jesus. To know we love him and he loves us is the result of prayer. Often it comes about when we turn to Jesus in our vulnerability and open our hearts to him, allow him to tend our troubles and meet us in our sorrows and then we discover that relationship of love with our saviour.
Yesterday in Judas’ protest at Mary’s action, we also heard the seeds of today’s dreadful turn of events. Judas had begun to react badly toward Jesus and his mission. Today we discover that Jesus is one who is betrayed. Jesus knows what it is to be betrayed.
The usual interpretation of Judas’ behaviour is that he had his own understanding of what he was doing following Jesus and that he thought he was following a rebel leader, one who would rouse the people in revolt against the Roman occupation, one who would claim the land again for the Hebrew people, cause trouble and make a stir. We can imagine that he had all of a young man’s passion for a cause and then was disappointed as that cause didn’t come into being.
His restlessness and disappointment seem to grow after Jesus’s entry into Jerusalem. Perhaps he thought that Jesus had lost the moment. Perhaps Judas begins to see that this whole venture is going to end where Jesus had told his disciples it would, with his death, and Judas is so bitter about that that he turns traitor.
To be betrayed is one of the worst experiences that can happen to us as people. We know the circumstances; the friendship which doesn’t hold water, unfaithfulness in a committed relationship, emotional or sexual abuse, the seeking after power at the expense of another at work, political manoeuvrings that leave a person out in the cold. It results in anger, frustration and loss, and it rancours. It is a horrible experience and almost impossible to forgive.
It is important to understand that Jesus has been in that place too. One to whom he opened his heart betrays him. One of the most poignant moments in the story of Jesus’s passion is when Judas leads the soldiers to Jesus and goes to kiss him which is the prearranged signal and Jesus asks him ‘Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?’ To be betrayed with a sign of affection is bitter indeed. When we ask ‘who is this Jesus?’ One of the answers is that Jesus is one who understands and has walked the hardest paths we walk.
Judas pays a high price for his betrayal. He let his own ambitions and desires get in the way of his relationship with Jesus. It is only after Jesus is condemned to death that he understands what he has done to his companion and friend. In remorse and recrimination, he takes his own life. He has been but a puppet of those who wanted Jesus put to death. When Judas throws his payment at their feet, in their hypocrisy they won’t keep it. They know it is blood money.
Lord Jesus we know that you experienced betrayal. Give us the courage to invite you into the hardest and most troubling places in our lives. May we know your healing of those hurts and may we discover the capacity to forgive. Amen.