Judas didn’t think of the long-term consequences of his betrayal; he just thought of the immediate pay-off. We can do the same thing too, sacrificing eternal life for temporal satisfaction.
Matthew 26:20-25 - Betrayal
Hello and welcome to the Bite-Sized Gospel with Aneel Aranha. Today we will reflect on Matthew 26:20-25. Listen.
When evening came, Jesus was reclining at the table with the Twelve. And while they were eating, he said, “Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me.”
They were very sad and began to say to him one after the other, “Surely you don’t mean me, Lord?”
Jesus replied, “The one who has dipped his hand into the bowl with me will betray me. The Son of Man will go just as it is written about him. But woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man! It would be better for him if he had not been born.”
Then Judas, the one who would betray him, said, “Surely you don’t mean me, Rabbi?”
Jesus answered, “You have said so.”
Most of the time, when we read Scripture or hear it read aloud (as we just did), we miss the intensity of the drama inherent in the situation described: the pathos, the poignancy, and the passion. This is why reflecting upon it is so important because it allows us to see, hear, and feel things we otherwise wouldn’t and realize things that we might not otherwise realize. Consider today’s story.
Jesus is having what he knows will be his last meal with his apostles. And while they are eating, he tells them that one of them will betray him. Quite naturally, they get very distressed. They know they are not leading perfect lives. They know they keep goofing up time and time again. They know they don’t understand much about their master or his purpose. Peter, for example, is rebuked by Jesus practically every time he says or does something.
Therefore, when Jesus says one of them will betray him, I am sure they are all thinking: “My God, is he talking about me? Am I the one who is going to betray him?” And they want to know. So they ask him, one by one, “Surely not I, Lord?” I can understand their fear. They love this man. They would die for him (or so they would like to believe). They want to be with him in heaven. And to think that they might betray him — it is horrifying!
And then the real betrayer, the one who had made a deal to sell him out and KNOWS he is the one, asks the same question: “Surely not I?” There is a Hebrew word called ‘chutzpah,’ which loosely translates as audacity, but audacity doesn’t describe Judas as well as chutzpah does. The chutzpah of the man to ask a question to which he knows the answer. And I wonder what is going on in HIS head as he asks the question.
Does he know his betrayal is going to lead to Jesus’s death? I think maybe he does. He knows the Jewish leaders have tried to kill Jesus on many occasions. But does he know that his betrayal will lead to his OWN death? I don’t think so. People like Judas don’t think of the long-term consequences of their actions; they look at the immediate payoff. And Judas got his: thirty pieces of silver. But then he got the rest of his wages: death. Because “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23a).
What a tragedy! However, let us remember that “though the wages of sin (might be death) the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23). We don’t have to go the way of Judas. We can go the way of Jesus.
May the Spirit be with you.