Silver for (someone) Gold

March 27, 2024

Matthew 26:14–16 (ESV)

Then one of the twelve, whose name was Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, “What will you give me if I deliver him over to you?” And they paid him thirty pieces of silver. And from that moment he sought an opportunity to betray him.

For three years now, he has followed Jesus. Leaving behind family and friends, work and all that he had, because he believed that Jesus was the One. At least at some point, he had. These days he wasn’t quite so sure. From what he had read, God’s Messiah was supposed to be a king, a conqueror, the One to raise an army and rid Jerusalem of her Roman captors. The One to restore Israel to the rightful place of prominence that she so rightly deserved. And yet, for the better part of these three years, Jesus has been nothing but talk. 

Talking about God. Talking about His love. Talking about His Kingdom, and yet doing nothing to advance it. Sure, there have been miracles and healings – but even the luster on those has been wearing off. It’s nice to heal a blind man or cure someone of leprosy – and he had to admit, the whole raising Lazarus from the dead thing had taken his breath away – but none of that was moving Pilate and his soldiers out of Jerusalem, taking Herod off his throne, or ridding anyone of having to answer to Caesar. As far as Judas is concerned, talk is cheap, and it is time for action. 

For the better part of those three years, he has been in charge of the money. Making sure there was always enough to support what Jesus had going on. It’s not cheap to house and feed all these people as they travel across the countryside, and it feels as though his “friends” don’t seem to understand. They’ve taken him for granted, what he’s done and how difficult it’s been, and so from time to time, he’s helped himself to a little something off the top. As a “thank you” for all that he’s done. No one’s ever noticed – they’d have to be paying enough attention for that – and so it’s been easy to make sure he feels appreciated, if only by himself. But now, as things feel more unhinged and dangerous than ever, Judas makes an executive decision. 

It’s time to cut bait. 

Time to get out. 

Count your losses, get what you can, and move on. 

And so, while the rest of his friends are lounging in Bethany, he excuses himself and makes his way to Caiaphas in Jerusalem. He’s heard that he and the other chief priests are sick of having to deal with Jesus and His followers, and they just might be his ticket out. As he approaches the palace, he’s still trying to decide – what will he ask for? What would it take? Maybe he’ll let them make the first offer. 

“What will you give me?” 

“Thirty pieces of silver.” 

Hadn’t he heard that number somewhere before? A shepherd talking about being impatient and detesting his flock? No matter. It’s more than enough.


Now the only question was how, and when……

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