Matthew 26:14-25

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.

On the first day of Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Where do you want us to make the preparations for you to eat the Passover?” He said, “Go into the city to a certain man, and say to him, ‘The Teacher says, My time is near; I will keep the Passover at your house with my disciples.’” So the disciples did as Jesus had directed them, and they prepared the Passover meal.

When it was evening, he took his place with the twelve; and while they were eating, he said, “Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me.” And they became greatly distressed and began to say to him one after another, “Surely not I, Lord?” He answered, “The one who has dipped his hand into the bowl with me will betray me. The Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that one by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that one not to have been born.”

Judas, who betrayed him, said, “Surely not I, Rabbi?” He replied, “You have said so.” Matthew 26:14-25

Certain names live in infamy – Hitler, Pol Pot, Stalin, Benedict Arnold – but often we forget that such characters don’t emerge in a vacuum. Judas didn’t come out of nowhere. Healthy systems produce healthy leaders. Judas was a product of the system that raised him and taught him what it meant to be an adult.

From our point of view, we look back all the way to Genesis 12 for the promise and purpose of our forebears, the people of Israel. From that very beginning, the call was crystal clear. God would bless God’s people and they would bless all the peoples of the world. Like electricity, God’s love would flow forth, go to and through God’s people, connect with those they touched, and return to its source in God. This is the only plan there is. It is written into the universe.

But, like electricity, all it takes is a switch, or a break in the wire, and you’ve lost the power of your connection. Enough of a break and the entire grid – the system itself – breaks down.

Follow the line back through Judas and the Bible teaches us about how it is that people abuse their freedom to be responsible. They exchange worship of, and obedience to, the Creator in exchange for worship of, and obedience to, their own creations. They forget the Source of their blessings and come to think of themselves as the end all and be all of life. They elevate their own tribe at the expense of all others. The system feeds on itself until it consumes itself. Human sin interwoven into human systems.

Judas was raised in an age, beleaguered as they were, when Jews clung to their identity as special people, chosen people. He was raised with a faith that pitted his good people against their evil enemies – Romans, Samaritans, Gentiles everywhere. A faith which said that the current evil age would find consummation when God would act to set his people free to take their rightful place at the top of the pyramid. Judas was raised in every age. Including our own.

For Judas, Jesus was the worst kind of disappointment. He didn’t deliver the goods. Judas didn’t see the breadth of Jesus’ love and concern as Jesus blessed rich and poor, Jew and Gentile, the leaders of synagogues and the leaders of Roman soldiers. Or perhaps he did and he resented it. Either way, Judas was ready to make a deal. He sold Jesus out for 30 pieces of silver.

All people, of every age, in every culture and human system, do well not to cast Judas and the other infamous characters in history as tragic accidents but as reflections of the darkness in their own beliefs and expectations. Recasting God in our own image never ends well.

Let us pray: Dear Lord, our sins betrays you. We chase after the gods who are not gods. We choose selfishness over service. We forget about the common good as we sink deeper into greed. We take for granted what a blessing it is to be invited to your table. The table where there is room, and plenty, for all. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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2 Responses to “Matthew 26:14-25”

  1. Dave Armstrong Says:

    One of the reasons I like your daily devotions so much is that they are “Daily Reminders”

  2. Carolee Groux Says:

    Dave Armstrong I wholeheartedly agree with you that Rev. Kerry’s daily devotions are “daily reminders” for us.

    “We do chase after the gods who are not gods. We do choose selfishness over service. We do forget about the common good as we sink deeper into greed. We take for granted what a blessing it is to be invited to your table.”

    Thank you Lord Jesus for communion at your table; and for your forgiveness of our sins. Amen.

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