In Matthew 26:14-25, in today’s liturgy, the church presents to us Matthew’s account of how Judas went to the chief priests to negotiate on how to betray Jesus and Jesus’ foretelling of His betrayer as we read yesterday from John’s gospel.
What we shall do today is to analyse the nature of this betrayal. We shall also analyse why Judas betrayed Jesus and what leads to betrayal and how we have also betrayed God.
How the Journey Started.
In all the gospel records, the decision of Judas to hand Jesus over to the chief priests and Pharisees, came immediately after the anointing at Bethany (Read Matthew 26:6-16, Mark 14:3-11 and John 12 and 13).
During the anointing at Bethany, Judas complained bitterly the reason such expensive ointment could be wasted on Jesus (John 12:4-5).
Judas was irked by the attitude of Mary and viewed the act as senseless. To see the family spend such an amount of money and waste it on oil was unbearable for Judas.
Also, Jesus’ response to Judas may have angered Him all the more and he decided to make a little money from handing Jesus over. So the gospel today of Matthew 26:14-25 began from this.
The Chief Priests Saga.
The chief priests and the religious leaders have been looking for a way to arrest Jesus. Judas knows quite well that the chief priests are envious of Jesus. He knows they are looking for a way to arrest Him. Then, he tried to use that opportunity to make a little money from the situation.
His aim may be to play on the intelligence of the chief priests, knowing the power of His master Jesus. Maybe he hoped that Jesus may disappear from their midst if they arrested him.
So, in Matthew 27:3, when Judas saw that Jesus was condemned he was filled with remorse and then decided to return the thirty pieces of silver. So everything about Judas’ betrayal of Jesus was financially motivated.
In today’s gospel of Matthew 26:14-25, Judas makes clear his motive of handing over His master. He asks the chief priests: “What are you willing to give me if I hand Him over to you?” (vs. 15). He is more interested in what they will give Him and what He would gain.
Betrayal arises whenever we continue to seek for what to gain in every situation. There is always the tendency to betray the people that trust you whenever you want to use them to your advantage.
One who betrays first of all sees a false gain and can go to any extent to achieve that.That was the case of Judas. Any one who betrays thinks that there is something to gain outside there. But later, it will end in regrets.
We betray God too, when we think there is something to gain outside of Him, only for us to discover we have been wasting our time all these while. Only in God can one have true happiness.
The Real Problem.
The problem of Judas is not just money. Judas has been in charge of money all these while. The problem of Judas is that desire to take advantage of any situation.
He tries to find an opportunity to look for something to gain, even if it means putting the other person in pain.
Today, betrayal also comes whenever we try to take undue advantage of any situation. Whenever we try to use every situation to our advantage without considering the people that would be affected, the pains they may undergo and what it may cost them, always leads to betrayal.
Many have betrayed their country, families,friends because of that desire to take undue advantage over them.
2.Did you discover that Judas sold Jesus for only thirty pieces of silver which was a price for a slave according to Exodus 21:32.
Despite the low amount, Judas was eager to accept it, to tell you that He wanted to gain from the existing altercation between Jesus and the religious leaders.
Betrayal Always Comes From Within.
1.In Matthew 26:14-25, While Jesus was eating with the apostles, He pointed at them and said “one of you is going to betray me”. John says in his gospel that Jesus was greatly troubled at this.
Nothing pains more than a betrayal that comes from a close companion. Betrayal always comes from within.
It may come from people who are close to you, someone you suffered for and someone who promised you heaven and earth.
Betrayal always comes from people you once trusted with your last blood and was free to share everything with him/her. Betrayal always comes from someone you never expected. The pain of a betrayal is enormous.
2. Did you recall that the chief priests have planned several ways to arrest Jesus but they could not. In Matthew 26:4-5, the chief priests have already made plans to arrest Jesus but they were afraid of the crowd, they were waiting for the festival to be over.
The funny part of this is that Jesus’ closest company made the plan to be orchestrated easily. Someone once said, “do not be afraid of those who know nothing about you but be careful of those who know everything about you” .
Just like in the case of Julius Caesar’s death which was championed by his closest companion Brutus, the greatest problem, the worst betrayal, the greatest disappointment you may get in life tomorrow may come from someone you are sharing your secrets today with.
Like Jesus and Judas, Betrayals always come from the people we call our own.
We betray God.
When Jesus died on the cross, He might be saying, “yes, these people will use this and know how much I love them”.
Instead of forgiving the world from heaven , God sends His only son to suffer for our sake. God uses this to let the world know how deeply He loves them. But what God gets from us is rejection.
We turn our backs on God and live the way we want. We betray the love of God through the type of life that we live. So, it is not only Judas that betrayed Jesus, we also have betrayed Him.
God chooses you to serve Him but instead of working for Him, we work to satisfy our personal desires and pleasures. We have also betrayed the love of God.
This holy week calls for a sober moment to reflect how we live and turn a new leaf.
May God help us and give us the grace to trust always in His guidance and direction. May He never abandon you. Amen