Summary: He did it for the money; we too are vulnerable to greedy love of money
"Why Did Judas Do It?"
For a prosecutor to win a conviction in court,they must offer a reasonable motive for doing the crime. A jury will want to know why someone did the particular deed. In life, we expect some rational explanation for human behavior.
So too, the betrayal of Jesus by Judas, arranging for his arrest, demands some explanation, a reason for what he did. What was his motive --- and why did he do it?
Judas seems to have had every possible spiritual advantage. He was chosen to be one of the twelve by Jesus. For three years he traveled and lived as a disciple. Judas heard Jesus teach. preach and tell parables, he saw the many healings and other miracles.
He helped pass out food during the feeding of the 5000, he was there to see Jesus raise the dead and he was even in the boat when Jesus calmed the storm at sea.
Imagine what those three years must have been like.
How could Judas do such a thing, after all that he had seen & done? How could he be exposed to Jesus everyday, for all that time, hearing the incredible things Jesus said, seeing the amazing things Jesus did, how could he in the end, betray him? How could he be so unmoved, so little effect on him as to not respond with amazement and gratitude?
Doesn’t it make you wonder, how come and why did Judas do it?
The Bible is quite explicit --- that it was Judas, he had a choice. The text holds him responsible for his decision -- he wasn’t a patsy or a pawn, powerless to do anything else.
On the night of the Last Supper --- there in the Upper Room, he was next to Jesus in the place of honor, and Jesus washed Judas’ feet as an expression of love. I believe that even then, Jesus was holding open a door, a possibility – a desire to Judas to repent, and to not go through with his terrible arrangement. Judas had another option, but he chose to betray his Lord.
Motive for this decision to betray has long fueled attempts to explain his character and reasons. In choral music and stage productions, often Judas is the most interesting part, the most complex and best developed character. Theologians and artists love to speculate about Judas, and suggest justifiable motivations for his betrayal of Jesus.
Most suggest that Judas became disenchanted with Jesus over time. He may have followed Jesus expecting to be on the ground floor, of the coming kingdom where he would rule with Jesus. But when he realized that it wasn’t going to happen, that there would be no fame or fortune, he cut his losses by taking the 30 pieces of silver.
If Judas signed on expecting Jesus to overthrow Roman tyranny, perhaps by having Jesus arrested,he hoped to force Jesus into a rebellion against Rome.
Maybe, wanting Jesus to bring about an earthly kingdom,
Judas meant to make it happen, sooner not later.
Or, maybe as a good Jew, Judas was scandalized when Jesus claimed to be God, and for religious reasons,he had to stop this blaspheming dangerous false teacher.
Some suggest that Judas was tricked by the religious leaders, or maybe they threatened, forcing him to betray Jesus. Maybe Judas was afraid that if Jesus did in fact, cause a rebellion, then the Romans would kill anyone associated with Jesus.
These are all good reasons and understandable motives,
but they don’t match the testimony of Scripture.
The gospel writers do tell us why Judas betrayed Jesus,
quite clearly, that he did it for the money.
Then one of the twelve, who was called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, "What will you give me if I betray him to you?"
They paid him thirty pieces of silver.
And from that moment
he began to look for an opportunity to betray him.
The Greek is quite specific that Judas was negotiating a deal a business arrangement - seeking economic advantage, by getting the best price that he could manage, and so for 30 pieces of silver he sold his relationship with Jesus.
They paid him thirty pieces of silver. And from that moment he began looking for an opportunity to betray him. It seems pretty clear, he did it for the money.
I find it revealing that writers and commentators
search endlessly for a motive other than his greed for money.
I suppose because we are offended by such cold crassness, as ’betrayal for bucks’ or ’The Price is Right" Surely, its not just about the money.
But from my experience in the business world,
when someone says, "its not about the money" generally, it is about the money.