He [Judas] was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it (John 12:6).
Yesterday we looked at the role of Caiphas and the Sanhedrin in orchestrating the death of Jesus. Today, we’ll be taking a closer look at Judas Iscariot and his betrayal. It’s possible that Judas joined up with Jesus because he thought Jesus would have enough political clout and positive influence to liberate the Jewish people from the oppressive Roman rule. However, when it became apparent that Jesus wasn’t going to do anything to get rid of the Romans, Judas became disillusioned and impatient. So he decided to force the situation or bring it to a head by delivering Jesus up to those who hated him. Discontentment may have been the primary motivation of Judas.
Judas also may have been motivated by greed. In the passage above, it says that Judas was the treasurer or the money-keeper for Jesus and the other men, and it adds that he was a thief who stole money from their common funds. It’s pretty obvious that Judas loved money more than he loved the master and he evidently didn’t see any problem with stealing from his friends. Therefore, when Judas saw an opportunity to get a payoff from the religious leaders, he gladly took it, even if it meant betraying Christ into the hands of his enemies.
Matthew 26:14-16 records this event: “Then one of the Twelve—the one called Judas Iscariot—went to the chief priests 15 and asked, “What are you willing to give me if I deliver him over to you?” So they counted out for him thirty pieces of silver. 16 From then on Judas watched for an opportunity to hand him over.”
Judas was willing to betray Jesus for thirty silver coins. That’s the price-tag, that’s how much that Judas valued Jesus at the time. Judas was not unlike a spy who sells out our national security for money or spiritual leaders who turn their religion into a commercial enterprise, or the county auditor who embezzles money.
No wonder Jesus taught that it’s not possible to serve both God and money; we have to decide which master is more important (Matthew 6:24). It’s not wrong to have money, but it is wrong for money to have you.
What is Jesus worth to you? Hopefully you agree with the assessment of Paul the apostle, found in Philippians 3:7-9: “But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. 8 What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith.”
Jesus is our greatest treasure, the pearl of great price. There is nothing more valuable than a relationship with him. Paul was willing to give up everything that got in the way of his wholehearted devotion to Christ. What about you—is anything getting in the way?
You are our great treasure, dear Lord, and we rejoice in your goodness toward us. You are worthy of all our praise and for all eternity we will worship you. Strengthen us today to stand up for you and live for your glory.
Can you honestly say that knowing Jesus is more important to you than anything else?