Judas Betrays the Lord
Translated by Allan Liang
Jesus led the disciples in healing and casting out demons, performing miracles and preaching the gospel of heaven; unknowingly, it was already the third time Jesus entered Jerusalem, during the celebration of the passover. Jesus knew that now his time had come, and told his disciples three times that he would be delivered into the hands of the teachers of the law and the chief priests, suffer and be killed, but rise from the dead on the third day (Mark 8:31, 9:31, 10:33-34). However, the disciples heard this teaching, but could never understand. Worse, faced with such an important spiritual mystery, they didn’t understand and did not seek for the answer. Because they did not take to heart the things Jesus repeatedly emphasized, they were bound to make errors in their spiritual judgments. Indeed, when the disciples reclined with Jesus in Simon’s house, and seeing Mary pour an entire alabaster jar of highly expensive perfume on Jesus’ head, their hearts were filled with dissatisfaction, and their mouths with criticism. In their politically correct thinking, if this perfume was exchanged as money and used to help the poor, that would be doing good and would be praised by all. But what meaning was there in pouring the perfume all at once on Jesus’ body? This was an unfortunate waste that made their hearts ache terribly. On the outside they were angry at Mary. On the inside however, they blamed Jesus for not giving the command for Mary to stop and allowed such an absurd act to happen. Their love towards the poor appeared to be greater than even Jesus’, and a type of self-righteousness and superiority spontaneously emerged. What they didn’t know was precisely these self-righteous rebukes toward Mary exposed the greatness of the darkness of their souls. The Gospel of John points out that the person who openly rebuked Mary for not caring about the poor was Judas of Galilee. However, did Judas really care about the poor? Absolutely not! “He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it” (John 12:6). In reality, Judas hoped that Mary would exchange the perfume as money and offer it to Jesus’ team for ministry work. This way, as the steward of money in the team, he would have an opportunity to satisfy his greed. But this time, such a wonderful opportunity slipped by. He probably thought to himself, “I’ve followed Jesus for three years now, even though I get to satisfy my greed sometimes, I don’t get too much out of it. I hoped to wait until Jesus became king, and secure a place of power for myself. But Jesus now speaks about going to his death, and doesn’t seem like he wants to be king. This way, when will there be an end to my waiting?” Judas saw that the Jewish authorities attempted to arrest Jesus a number of times, but failed each time, and so his greed was kindled, prompting him to assist the authorities in arresting Jesus, through which he could receive some reward money. The Scriptures for our devotion today (Mark 14:10-11) talks about Judas going to see the chief priests in order to betray Jesus. As expected, Judas was given the promise of reward money, “so he watched for an opportunity to hand him over” (Mark 14:11). Brothers and sisters, why did the Bible record Judas’ betrayal of Jesus immediately after Mary’s anointing of Jesus with perfume? This is certainly not a coincidence. Do not think that Judas was an unforgivably sinful and shamelessly greedy person. In the three years of following Jesus, Judas’ performance among the disciples was probably quite good. Otherwise, when Jesus said to the disciples, “one of you is going to betray me,” the disciples would not have “stared at one another, at a loss to know which of them he meant” (John 13:21-22). Dear brothers and sisters, please meditate on Judas' betrayal of Jesus. Have you thought of this: what caused Judas to betray the Lord was not merely the greed for money, but more frighteningly, his great pride and self-righteousness. This caused him to think of himself as righteous, and feel as if he loved the poor more than Mary, even more than Jesus. It was as if Jesus was not even as good as him. Jesus’ original greatness and perfection in his heart utterly collapsed. Furthermore, Jesus no matter what, opposed the authorities, prompting him to think, “the Jews indeed have their reasons to arrest him. So why is it wrong for me to help them?” Evidently all sins are produced of self-righteousness, and the root of all sins is not knowing who Jesus is. If we look around us, how many people once pursued Jesus with warm hearts, but today have grown cold and have become like the people of the world? Is there a shadow of Judas in this? May we together pray: May the grace and mercy of God be with us, so that we do not become like Judas, and guard us so that we do not forsake the faith and love we had initially, but follow the Lord to the very end.