Right now, across the world, people are worried about their health. And across the board, from successful business owners to unemployed folk, they are worried about money. Making ends meet. Keeping the factory afloat. Paying the bills.
We do not have to love money to be anxious about having enough of it to keep body and soul together. As Christians we may also be concerned about the deleterious effect of the coronavirus on congregational income, Christian Aid Week, foodbanks, and other charitable causes which are dear to our hearts.
So what of Judas Iscariot? So often known as the one who betrayed Jesus, what was his motivation? Here is a wee reflection.
It had been so exciting to be appointed as one of the twelve disciples of the Teacher from Nazareth. At long last he had been noticed. He felt worthy, he felt important, he felt proud.
Admittedly it was a motley crew he had been asked to join, and no mistake. But there was nothing to keep him at home, so he went along willingly, with a song in his heart.
None of them could have been prepared for the experience: miracles of healing, spell-binding stories, teaching from scripture as they had never heard before. Lepers, the disabled, prostitutes, people not in their right mind, women and children even – there was no-one whom this new Rabbi was willing to turn away. He was turning the world upside down.
Of course the powers-that-be didn’t like it. Didn’t like him. Judas was willing to bet that he wasn’t the only one of the twelve who took a private delight in seeing them being put down by the man from Galilee. As Nathanael had once exclaimed, “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” (John 1:46) But he soon became as captivated and devoted as the rest of them.
They went to all sorts of places – in the countryside, by the seashore, towns, villages, hilltops. But it was when the Master insisted on going to Jerusalem for the Passover that things began to turn sour. The powers-that-be would not be prepared to stand by and let a seemingly rival power overturn theirs. They were frightened, and like a cornered animal they were poised to strike, no holds barred.
This wasn’t what Judas had signed up for. Bit by bit he became disillusioned. It was never going to work out as the Teacher had promised. It was all words, words, words. The Temple authorities, the Romans, simply would not let it happen. As for the Master’s repeated declarations that he would suffer and die in Jerusalem, well, what was the point of that?
And when he was put to death, where did that leave the twelve men who had left everything to follow him? On the next gallows, more than likely. No, this was absolutely not what Judas had signed up for.
It was time to nip it in the bud. The other eleven were no help at all. Their heads were still in the clouds. Judas would have to see to it himself.
He wanted out. There was only one problem though. He was skint. How could he go back home without any money? Looking like a ragged beggar? A nobody?
So he asked the powers-that-be what they’d give him in return for the betrayal. And when they promised a decent pile of silver, his mind was made up. He’d do it, and then he’d go back home and set himself up in a nice house and profitable business.
It was time to stop depending on strangers' charity.
It was time to get real.