Your Daily Lenten Devotional
February 29, 2012
What Is Your Price?
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. (Matthew 26:14-16)
Into the Wilderness
Before arriving at the Last Supper, Judas had already agreed to betray Jesus. Jesus predicted his betrayal at the supper; and following the meal, he sent Judas away, saying, “Do quickly what you are going to do” (John 13:27). Within a few hours Judas would arrive leading guards dispatched by the priests to arrest Jesus.
Why did Judas betray Jesus? This is a question that believers have debated for nearly two thousand years. Some have speculated that Judas was a Zealot who began following Jesus anticipating that he would lead an uprising against the Romans. When it became clear that this was not Jesus’ plan, Judas, in disappointment, betrayed Jesus. Some have suggested that Judas, by his actions, hoped to force Jesus to rise up against the religious authorities and the Romans. Perhaps Judas, who already felt a bit at odds with the disciples, was offended when Jesus chastised him at a supper in Bethany during the last week of Jesus’ life. In these scenarios, Judas’ politics may have come before his faith, or perhaps Judas’ disappointment or hurt led him to succumb to evil.
We likely do not know the full motives of Judas’ heart, but the Gospels do tell us that among his motives was a desire for money. John reports that Judas, as keeper of the money used in the ministry of Jesus, would occasionally steal from those funds (John 12:4-6). Matthew tells us that Judas approached the chief priests asking, “What will you give me if I betray him to you?” (Matthew 26:15). They paid him thirty pieces of silver–about five weeks’ wages for an average worker.
Money has a strange way of affecting us. Paul tells us that “the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil” (1 Timothy 6:10). Jesus was tempted with riches by the devil and regularly preached about the struggle human beings have with a desire for wealth. That struggle is still with us today, as shown by the human greed and gluttony behind the economic crisis that began in 2008.
On several occasions Jesus spoke to people struggling with greed. He told the man we call “the rich young ruler” that the only way he could break free of his love of possessions was to part with them all by giving everything to the poor. On another occasion he told a man struggling with greed, “One’s life does not consist in the abundance of possessions” (Luke 12:15). I have committed these words to memory and frequently repeat them, as I am regularly tempted to focus on acquisition.
Eventually, the love of money can and will come into conflict with our love of God. In Judas’ case, the love of money won out. Slowly and by degrees, he came to rationalize his taking from the common purse and ultimately his betrayal of Jesus. Do you ever find your faith in conflict with your finances? Are you willing to give as God calls you to? Are you completely honest in your business dealings? on your tax return? Do you ever compromise your values in order to make the sale, close the deal, or get the raise?
Lord, forgive me for the times I have compromised my faith for the sake of having more. Help me remember that my life “does not consist in the abundance of [my] possessions” and to desire to serve you with all that I am and all that I have. Amen.
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In this companion volume that can also function beautifully on its own, Adam Hamilton offers 40 days of reflection and meditation enabling us to pause, dig deeper, and emerge changed forever. The reflections, ideal for use in Lent, include Scripture, reflection on the events of Jesus’ final day, stories from Hamilton’s ministry, and prayers.
Used with the kind permission of our friends at Abingdon Press.