Well friends, this is over 200 blog postings for me! And using the lectionary for blogging reflections for Palm Sunday is interesting. For the ‘Passion’ side of this Sunday the gospel reading passage includes just about all of chapters 26 and 27 of Matthew – events before the last supper going up through the crucifixion.
I might do some of this text next week, but for this morning I am going to focus on the story about Judas in Matthew. In the beginning of Chapter 26 Jesus tells his disciples again that he is going to be betrayed and killed. During a dinner party, a woman comes up to anoint Jesus with a very expensive bottle of perfume. This is the end of the line for Judas, whatever he was thinking about what this event, he made a deal with the authorities to betray Jesus directly after this incident.
26 1-2 When Jesus finished saying these things, he told his disciples, “You know that Passover comes in two days. That’s when the Son of Man will be betrayed and handed over for crucifixion.”
3-5 At that very moment, the party of high priests and religious leaders was meeting in the chambers of the Chief Priest named Caiaphas, conspiring to seize Jesus by stealth and kill him. They agreed that it should not be done during Passover Week. “We don’t want a riot on our hands,” they said.
6-9 When Jesus was at Bethany, a guest of Simon the Leper, a woman came up to him as he was eating dinner and anointed him with a bottle of very expensive perfume. When the disciples saw what was happening, they were furious. “That’s criminal! This could have been sold for a lot and the money handed out to the poor.”
10-13 When Jesus realized what was going on, he intervened. “Why are you giving this woman a hard time? She has just done something wonderfully significant for me. You will have the poor with you every day for the rest of your lives, but not me. When she poured this perfume on my body, what she really did was anoint me for burial. You can be sure that wherever in the whole world the Message is preached, what she has just done is going to be remembered and admired.”
14-16 That is when one of the Twelve, the one named Judas Iscariot, went to the cabal of high priests and said, “What will you give me if I hand him over to you?” They settled on thirty silver pieces. He began looking for just the right moment to hand him over.
What do you think Judas’ motive was for betrayal. I wonder with Jesus speech about not worrying about the poor whether Judas thought he had lost the crux of the mission? Did Judas think Jesus was becoming arrogant by letting this woman anoint him with very expensive oil – in the middle of dinner?? Maybe Judas thought; “We have created a monster, this guy is getting ridiculous.”
Judas made the deal. In Mark’s gospel there is no word of what happen to Judas after he ‘kissed’ Jesus in the garden. It is consistent with Matthew’s gospel it is told what happen to Judas with a reference to the Hebrew Scriptures. This story is at the beginning of Chapter 27.
27 1-2 In the first light of dawn, all the high priests and religious leaders met and put the finishing touches on their plot to kill Jesus. Then they tied him up and paraded him to Pilate, the governor.
3-4 Judas, the one who betrayed him, realized that Jesus was doomed. Overcome with remorse, he gave back the thirty silver coins to the high priests, saying, “I’ve sinned. I’ve betrayed an innocent man.”
They said, “What do we care? That’s your problem!”
5 Judas threw the silver coins into the Temple and left. Then he went out and hung himself.
6-10 The high priests picked up the silver pieces, but then didn’t know what to do with them. “It wouldn’t be right to give this—a payment for murder!—as an offering in the Temple.” They decided to get rid of it by buying the “Potter’s Field” and use it as a burial place for the homeless. That’s how the field got called “Murder Meadow,” a name that has stuck to this day. Then Jeremiah’s words became history:
‘They took the thirty silver pieces,
The price of the one priced by some sons of Israel,
And they purchased the potter’s field.’
And so they unwittingly followed the divine instructions to the letter.
Judas regrets his actions and hangs himself. It is interesting in Luke’s version (Acts 1) he splits into like Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5) who lied about how much they had to give to the ‘new christian commune.’ I suppose that it is not important how Judas died, he choose to betray a friend and regretted his actions. It is ironic that both he and Jesus died the same day, but one receives our contempt and the other receives our worship. Death is a constant. It is how we live that makes the difference.
Here’s to living a great day on the journey. Peace.
Here’s to living a great day.