Summary: Lenten Study of Characters at the cross
We Were There - Judas Iscariot
Matthew 26: 14-16, 47-50; 27: 1-10
CALVIN CHRISTIAN REFORMED CHURCH
It hits you square in the soul, doesn’t it - like stepping out of a warm home into a sleet-laced east wind that slaps and stings your face. What an incredible, almost terrible paradox before us this morning -
- the beauty, the hope of new life, family, baptism
- the tragedy, the despair of death, alone, destruction
We celebrated baptism -
the gift of life that God grants to a young family, the hope and anticipation of the future in the life of Samantha. Faith and joy in the presence of Jesus Christ.
But we do that in the context of Lent - weeks of sober preparation for Good Friday and Easter; weeks when we are remembering some of the people who were there in the time of Jesus’ suffering; there and active.
As part of that, let me put in this little plug, an aside, for the devotional that was handed out a couple of weeks ago. It follows the same theme of looking at people involved in Jesus’ path to the cross. I hope you are using this for personal or family devotions.
If you aren’t, it’s available for download from our website: www.calvincrc.ca.
As Kathy described to the children, and as we encountered in the Bible reading -
today we meet Judas Iscariot; Judas - man from Kerioth in Judea.
As much as we met Samantha, and together with her family anticipate a future of joy, of life, of hope in her life, so equally powerfully do we see absolute chaos, emptiness and tragic despair in his life.
Nothing....... except darkness.
Judas - his name is infamous, his actions reviled.
But little is actually known of him.
We know he was the treasurer of Jesus’ band of disciples - part of the executive we’d say, no mere hanger-on. We also know from other accounts that he wasn’t above padding his expense account from donations to the ministry. Fringe benefits, shall we say?
Some bible scholars and historians suggest that he was a quiet zealot, wanting freedom from Rome, as did most in his home province of Judea. Hoping, somehow, that Jesus was the ticket to that freedom.
And he, Judas, was there -
there for the miracles,
there for the teaching,
there for the prayer times,
there for the confrontations with the politicians and leaders,
there - and sent out - along with the others to teach and heal.
But somewhere along the way something died.
Whatever it was that caused him to drop his career, leave behind a stable home life, and follow Jesus –
Whatever passion, whatever hope, whatever dream had propelled this man from Kerioth, had died.
The last straw came just before the first moments of our reading - a woman anoints Jesus with an incredibly expensive perfume, and lavishes him with her love. Spends about 4 months wages on this one moment of worship.
The disciples, Judas among them, object.
Imagine how that devotion could have been channelled to social and political restitution in oppressed Israel?
Perhaps Jesus was not their man after all!
The flame flickered out at that moment in Judas’ life.
In the Old Testament bible prophecy of Zechariah, 11:12-13, a shadowy picture is painted of a shepherd whose care for the sheep is unappreciated. He asks for his wages and is given the disgustingly low amount of 30 pieces of silver. Take that amount, says God to the shepherd, and throw it into the temple.
That ancient shadow reappears in Judas.
Judas has moved beyond mere disillusion with Jesus. If that were all, he would have simply left, just gone home to resume his former life. The option was there.
But he doesn’t.
Disillusionment has become infected and turned to disgust.
And Judas, the man fascinated with money, figures he may as well try to salvage something for himself from this whole experience — even if it is only a little; a trifle compared to the months he’s given trudging behind this leader.
Jesus is cheap junk - trade him in like one would an old car;
30 pieces of silver.
Judas Iscariot had a heart that turned ice cold. How else can you explain the act of betrayal? Not just pointing out Jesus from behind a bush, but going into the open...... the greeting..... the kiss?
Thinking no more of destroying the life of Jesus and the hopes of the disciples than young boys would think of kicking in an ant hill.
It doesn’t matter.
Or did it?
We’ll never really know what went on in his heart and mind.
Perhaps Judas just wanted to shake Jesus up and force him to act by coming against him with the vigilante mob.