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30 pieces

Satan put it into Judas’ heart to betray Jesus. There has been much speculation as to why Judas did it, and even those who have seen him as a necessary part of the story of the Crucifixion and Resurrection; he was, but that does not excuse him, and neither does the fact that Satan put it into his heart. Satan sifts us all constantly. Every day is a trial with him, and every day brings fresh opportunities to imitate Judas in our own way.

As we contemplate the annals of human ingratitude, myopia and pride, Judas takes a special place. Despite being with Jesus for the length of His earthly ministry, Judas appears to have learnt nothing, not only about who he was, but also about what Jesus was teaching. If, as is sometimes implied, it was the use of the expensive ointment which tipped the balance, then we see a not uncommon type in Judas. He knew best. His instinct went towards asceticism, and he had no time for fripperies; he would have been at the forefront of those who demand that the Church sells all the fine artwork which generations of devout souls have given it, in order to feed the poor. Their’s is a world in which man lives by bread alone, and where, once everything which might life the soul up has vanished, life is grim and the poor continue to suffer once all the fine art has gone. Men like this sound as though they mean well, but their actions seldom help those at whom they are aimed, and often do long term harm.

Jessica likes to think that Judas was trying to provoke a revolution, hoping that by arresting Jesus, the authorities would unwittingly light the fuse to a powder keg; if so, it was a pretty spectacular miscalculation.

Thirty pieces of silver was the price paid to Zechariah for his work in watching over a flock of sheep destined for the slaughter. This was the price of a slave according to Exodus. Zechariah took them and threw them to the ‘potter of the Lord’, just as the money Judas took was used to buy the Potter’s field; we have, in other words, a Messianic prophecy in Zechariah 11. Just as Zechariah withdrew his staffs of Favour and Unity from his flock, so too did the Lord from His.

The Son of Man was sold to His enemies for the price of a slave. Judas acted on his own wisdom, saw it had been folly, and then hanged himself. If he had wanted action, what he got did not satisfy him. He had acted by the standards of this world, and Satan had, as he will, found a way in through the chinks in the spiritual armour which are thus created.

Judas set in train the events which, by worldly standards, led to the humiliation of Jesus and his elimination as a threat to the Jewish authorities. By the ninth hour on the Friday afternoon it was, indeed, all over, as the world judges these things. But the world was, as it is on these matters, wrong, and yet it was about to be redeemed – although many of its inhabitants would be as blind as Judas, and continue to be so to this day.