No one wakes up one day and says “today is the day I am going to ruin my life.” It happens much more slowly than that. The worst moment, the worst choice, the worst day, all sneaks up on you through small, minute, seemingly inconsequential decisions until all at once they have reached their climax. Affairs don’t begin the minute you’re with another person. Murder doesn’t spring out of nowhere the second you pull the trigger. Thieves don’t walk into a bank thinking they’re there to make a deposit, only to pass a note and demand a withdrawal. Life comes at us hard and heavy, it wears us down, it asks us to compromise and reveals things about us that we wish weren’t true. Each of us has a breaking point. No one is strong enough on their own. Everyone has a price.
It just so happens Judas’ was thirty pieces of silver.
But like I said, it didn’t start there. Jesus made mention more than once about knowing that Judas’ heart wasn’t all in.
John 6:64, 70 (ESV) – But there are some of you who do not believe.” (For Jesus knew from the beginning who those were who did not believe, and who it was who would betray him.)
Jesus answered them, “Did I not choose you, the twelve? And yet one of you is a devil.”
John seemed to have noticed as well.
John 12:3–7 (ESV) – Mary therefore took a pound of expensive ointment made from pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (he who was about to betray him), said, “Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?” He said this, not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief, and having charge of the moneybag he used to help himself to what was put into it.
Did his friends know he was capable of this? Of promising to betray the man he had followed these last three years? Of turning in and turning over the One they believed to be the Messiah, God’s own Son? Did they realize his heart had fallen so far? Did they see the slow decay over time, or only look back and wonder how they had missed?
Wednesday of Holy Week marks a turning point. The moment when everything changed and on which everything turned. Unexpected? Hardly. Any less tragic? Absolutely not. When Judas, hands over his heart to the devil and walks into the chambers of the High Priest, he represents each one of us. His price was thirty pieces of silver, ours is often much less. His story is recorded for the world to hear. Ours are much more private.
Luke 22:3–6 (ESV) – Then Satan entered into Judas called Iscariot, who was of the number of the twelve. He went away and conferred with the chief priests and officers how he might betray him to them. And they were glad, and agreed to give him money. So he consented and sought an opportunity to betray him to them in the absence of a crowd.
We can look back and try to blame Judas for setting in motion the events that ended Jesus’ life. We can think to ourselves, if we were in His position, we’d never do the same. We’d be lying. You and I are just as responsible for what is about to happen next as Judas is. I wonder if he saw it coming? I wonder if he felt the slide? Did he ever realize he was in too deep? Often, I don’t – until it’s too late.
What is the life of the Son of God worth? The truth is a price far too great to tell. But for today, in the heart of all fallen man, the going rate is thirty pieces of silver.