Friday, May 15, 2015

Jesus, Judas and Money

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People often wonder why Judas betrayed Jesus. After all, how could you spend three years with a rabbi like Jesus and still betray Him? I suppose we'll never know for sure, but I think a couple scriptures give us some insight into the situation, and I would argue money had something to do with it.
I was reading through Mark today and came to the passage where a woman "wastes" a jar of perfume that is worth a year's wages by pouring it on Jesus' head. Some of the people with them rebuked her, saying the jar could have been sold and the money given to the poor, but Jesus told them to leave her alone.
Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them any time you want. But you will not always have me. She poured perfume on my body beforehand to prepare for my burial. I tell you the truth, wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.
Mark 14:6-9
Scripture says right after this, that Judas went to the chief priests to betray Jesus into their hands. "They were delighted to hear this and promised to give him money" (Mark 14:11a). In Matthew 26, the account records the same order of events, but says that Judas even asked the priests, "What are you willing to give me if I hand him over to you?", and then they counted out thirty silver coins as the price of our Savior (Matthew 26:15).
In the same perfume account in John 12, it's stated that Judas was specifically the one who objected to the waste of perfume. John then writes, "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). So clearly, Judas and Jesus had differing views on money, though each shared the same source financially.
This all made me wonder if one of the reasons that Judas betrayed Jesus was because of his overall attitude towards the money they all shared. Think about it, if your livelihood is dependent on a guy like Jesus who says things like, "If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me." (Matthew 19:21), you might get a little tired of it after a while, especially if you're a guy like Judas.
In Judas, we have a living example of what happens when one seems to love money too much; even one in Jesus' inner circle, who had direct access to, and was influenced by, the teachings of God Himself! So what does that say to us? Be really careful with how much emphasis you put on money! It's clearly dangerous!
How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!
Mark 10:23
I am bringing this topic up with a little hesitation and hopefully some humility -- money isn't always bad and neither is ambition -- though I tend to make it out to be in my own life. As I've grown up, though, I have heard from wiser men and even seen myself that money can be a trap that sucks a ton of your time and takes you away from God, friends and family. It's not always the case, but I think the principle of examining how much of your time is spent trying to make money, especially more money, is well-worth the thought. I'm guilty of it myself, but reading passages like the one below is always a sober reminder of where our focus should lie, and that, money or no money, God will provide.
So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
Matthew 6:31-33
[In writing this post, I found this article examining why Jesus put a thief in charge of the disciples' money. It's definitely worth a read. The picture comes from this article, where a man wrestles with the idea of giving everything away per Jesus' teaching.]

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