Hello, I’m Daniel Westfall on the channel “Pray With Me”.
In John 13, Judas left the last supper early to betray Jesus. Today we look at Judas’ point of view.
As chief accountant for the disciples, he managed the generous money gifts Jesus attracted, and he was aware of Jesus meagre living expenses. As a disciple of Jesus, I Judas probably felt that an occasional contribution from the common purse to his own ministry and personal expenses was reasonable. Some people, like John who wrote the gospel, took a narrow view of this and called it stealing. But Judas was a practical man, and in the air of super-spirituality that was consuming Jesus and the disciples he was the only one who had the foresight to think about things like salaries and pensions.
Perhaps Judas saw more clearly than the other disciples when things began to go sideways. Jesus had damaged his own cause by offending the whole Jewish political and religious establishment, and he wasn’t interested in doing damage control or in improving his public relations skills. He just kept thumbing his nose at the leaders, doing healings on the Sabbath and parading into Jerusalem. Life with Jesus was becoming a walking disaster. Judas didn’t want to walk into disaster. A bit of planning and management was in order.
Judas also had a lot of respect for Jesus’ skill. Jesus was an amazing miracle-worker, and he had other strange powers, like the time he just walked away from that crowd that was trying to push him over a cliff. So if the soldiers came to arrest Jesus, surely he would just walk away again. In fact, Judas rather liked the irony of his plan: he would take a bit of money to betray Jesus, and then watch Jesus walk away from the betrayal. And Judas would walk away from Jesus. It was too bad that Jesus didn’t offer the disciples a separation package if they quit, but Judas worked around that. He got the Pharisees to fund his package with 30 pieces of silver.
I wonder if the Last Supper was the last straw for Judas. Jesus stooping to wash the disciples dirty feet? Silly thing to do, acting like a servant. That’s not the ministry Judas signed up for. And that bit where Jesus called the wine his blood and the bread his body? Judas was ok with a feast, but this was getting a bit weird.
John describes what Judas did: “As soon as he had taken the bread he went out. And it was night.” Yes, it was night. Judas went into the night to betray Jesus. Soon Jesus would go into the night and begin his journey to the cross. The disciples would go into a night of fear and disillusionment and denial. In a few years, Jerusalem and the temple would go into a night of Roman destruction and spiritual darkness.
Jesus, the world in our time is headed into night. Can we avoid it by going off the grid, as Judas wanted to do? Or should we follow you into the night? Will your body be bread for us? Will your blood be our drink? Is faithfulness to you and to your community of disciples a higher value than survival and escape? Jesus, in the night it seemed you threw away your life. We are not yet willing to throw ours away. Help us not to join Judas in choosing a separation package and Plan B. Help us to follow you into whatever night is coming and to wait with you for the dawn.
I’m Daniel on the channel “Pray with Me”.