Summary: Apostles, Pt. 20
DO THE RIGHT THING (MATTHEW 27:1-10)
The parents of a teenage girl received a letter from the college freshman:
Dear Mom and Dad,
I just thought I’d drop you a note to let you know what’s going on with me. I’ve fallen in love with a guy named Blaze. He’s a really neat guy, but he quit high school a few years ago to get married. That didn’t work out, so he got a divorce last year. We’ve been going out for several weeks, and we’re thinking about getting married in the fall. Until then, I’ve decided to move into his apartment. I think I might be pregnant. Oh yeah, I dropped out of school last week so that I could get a job to help support Blaze. I’m hoping I’ll be able to finish college after we get married.
With utter shock and dismay they turned the next page:
Mom and Dad, I just wanted you to know that everything I’ve written so far in this letter is a lie. None of it is true.
But Mom and Dad, it is true that I got a C in French and a D in Math. And it’s also true that I need some more money. Could you please send me a hundred dollars?
Thanks a bunch.
She received a check in the mail from her parents two days later.
Have you ever felt the shame and guilt of doing something incredibly stupid, despicable and unforgivable? Judas had more reasons than anyone of Jesus’ disciples to feel that way. All of them were deserters (Mt 26:56, Mk 14:50), but Judas was the traitor. He felt the pangs of guilt, the punishment of shame and the penalty of sin compounded by the feeling of hopelessness and friendlessness.
What can we do when we are at the lowest point of our life? What is the alternative to remorse, regret, reproach and resignation?
Don’t Just See Something’s Wrong; Do What’s Right
27:1 Early in the morning, all the chief priests and the elders of the people came to the decision to put Jesus to death. 2 They bound him, led him away and handed him over to Pilate, the governor. 3 When Judas, who had betrayed him, saw that Jesus was condemned (Matt 27:1-3)
A young man came in for an interview with his manager. “Tell me,” the young man asked her, “how did you become so successful?”
“Two words,” she said.
“And what are they?”
He asked, “How did you make right decisions?”
“One word - experience.”
“And how did you get experience?”
“Two words,” she said.
“And what are they?”
Tom Watson, the former head of IBM, was asked if he was going to fire an employee who made a mistake that cost the company $600,000. Watson shook his head, and explained, “No, I just spent $600,000 training him. Why would I want somebody to hire his experience?” (Ashton Applewhite, And I Quote 78, St. Martin’s Press, 1992)
Judas was symptomatic of someone ignorant of and indifferent to change. He saw the wrong crowd not just before Jesus’ arrest but also after His arrest. The moment he realized the chief priests and the elders were interested to put Jesus to death and not just to put him to shame, he decided to talk to them and return the money. To be fair to Judas, he only knew about the plan of the chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin to put Jesus to death after he was arrested (Matt 26:59), not before. The word “put to death” shows up after Jesus was arrested. There are about 30 references to Judas “betraying” or “delivering” Jesus to his enemies but none of his intention to kill Jesus.
The Bible was clear: the Pharisees and the Herodians were the ones who plotted to kill Jesus (Mark 3:6) and the chief priests and the elders of the people were the ones with the power to put Jesus to death (Matt 27:1). Later, the same chief priests and the elders were the ones who decided to use the money to buy the potter’s field as a burial place for foreigners (Matt 27:7) and to buy off soldiers, telling them to accuse the disciples of stealing Jesus’ body (Matt 28:12-13). Yet Judas had no excuse; twice, specifically in Matthew, Jesus predicted His crucifixion (Matt 20:19, Matt 26:2).
Judas made two wrong decisions. His decision to meet the chief priests and the elders was puzzling. He tried correcting his mistake by making another mistake – meeting the same people for another bargain. It was the type of people and the kind of negotiation that got him in trouble in the first place. Judas was a failing, frustrated and futile opportunist. He did not see what he did was wrong until Jesus’ fate was sealed. Notice he saw no wrong in receiving money, in betraying Jesus but only that it got out of hand. So he was a relativist as well.