Things started out so GOOD!
[exasperated, and depressed… ]
Jesus … [heavy breath…]
Jesus … [It starts to cheer him up a little just his name]
Jesus, [short laugh] you should have seen the people flock to Jesus.
In the beginning, everyone wanted to be with him. He was healing everybody, and nobody wanted him dead. Sure, the Pharisees were a bit critical, but they are critical of everyone… except themselves.
Jesus was already a huge celebrity when I started following Him around a bit. His teaching was fresh, and interesting. Everything he said sounded new.
He didn't look like much, but everyone wanted to see him.
Then it happened, Jesus had picked me! Out of all his fans, he picked me. Best day of ever. I don’t know what he saw in the others, but he needed me. He recognized my skill with finances, and made me the treasurer of the group.
From the beginning, we were all busy. Jesus had us baptizing people after his sermons. I must have baptized thousands of people. And then there were the miracles. I'm not talking about the ones Jesus did. I'm talking about my miracles. He sent us out all over Israel. I had power! Power to heal. Cure sickness. Even drive out daemons! [with a sneer] Demons were scared of me!
“Judas was one of us and shared in the ministry with us.”” (Acts 1:17, NLT)
It was hard work. But since I kept all the donations safe in my purse, I was able to set aside some for my retirement fund. One of the advantages, to being in charge. The other disciples were always jockeying for my position. But Jesus turned them down. Whenever they would start arguing about which us was the greatest… I would just stand back and let them squabble. It was obvious Jesus honored me most.
Not everyone loved Jesus. The teachers of the Law hated him.
… Jesus never knew how to work with them. I told Jesus he could catch more flies with honey than vinegar. But every time they came around, Jesus made it worse. It was appalling. Don’t look at me that way. I wasn’t the only one advising Jesus! Even his own brothers tried to explain how he needed to manage his campaign better. Anyone who wants to be someone has to manage their popularity. It's about timing. And Jesus was the worst at timing. So many times, he could have capitalized on one of his big miracles… like that time he fed five thousand. Instead he would kick off some new offensive teaching like that crazy bit about cannibalism. Drink my blood, eat my flesh! Of course, everyone left! What did he expect? And I would have to start building the support base all over again. He had so many opportunities to take control and lead us and this nation to greatness. Yet … every …. single … time, he wasted it. I am convinced that if it wasn't for me managing things, he would still be walking around the backwards villages of the north.
At first Jesus' teaching was exciting and fresh, but lately I have not been getting fed. Seriously, I have been so close to leaving him. But then Peter, it's always Peter, … he just bluntly says it. "You're the Messiah… " No subtly at all… and Jesus admits it! Suddenly so many things make sense. The Messiah, the one that will restore Israel. Think of it! And I am His campaign manager! I couldn't leave him then. He needed me.
A year ago, the people were going to make Jesus King by force if necessary, but Jesus turned it down. I couldn’t let him miss another opportunity. I won't lie, it has been frustrating this year. You know, For being the messiah, Jesus is not very wise. What kind of messiah is he going to be if he does not take power when He has the chance?
You should have seen him last week. He comes riding into Jerusalem on a donkey. Just like a King should do… – everybody sees the symbolism – even the Pharisees. All of Jerusalem is bowing to him and honoring him with palm branches, and laying their cloaks down. And I'm in the front leading the donkey… Finally, at long last, I thought, all my hard work has paid off. Jesus is going to be the Messiah King! How wrong I was.
When we get into the city, he wastes this GOLDEN opportunity AGAIN! – Oh the PAIN of it! He does the last thing he should do… he goes to the temple and creates a huge mess --- destroys stuff and makes this big scene… for what? – For nothing… he just leaves town again.
All week he is angering the Pharisees. Embarrassing them in front of everyone. Woe to them… Whitewashed tombs... Hypocrites… – – I could see the seething hatred in their eyes… they want to kill him… and that’s not the worst of it, they would kill the rest of us too! I can't let that happen. – I am smarter than this….
Then I saw it. If Jesus were captured by them, he would have to confess and prove he is the Messiah! My perfect opportunity – solve both of my problems at once. Get in good with the Pharisees and force Jesus into making the move he has been too timid to make! Suddenly this warm and intensely powerful feeling comes all over me. – [Maniacal LAUGH] – I instantly know what I must do. Everything depends on me. I just needed to push Him in the right direction to him started setting up his Messianic kingdom.
None of the other disciples were willing to make this sacrifice. It was up to me to do what had to be done to force him to reveal himself as the Messiah. Jesus will thank me.
Pharisees needed a chance to nab Jesus when he was alone and couldn’t use the crowds against them. That would be easy for me – I knew all his habits. I made a deal with them. – They were willing to pay me almost half a year's wages for this one tip. I could have got more out of them.
So, last night I’m reclining right next to Jesus at the Passover dinner last night. -- Jesus has given me the seat of honor, of course. But he looks depressed, and he is talking his crazy talk again about his death and stuff… what rubbish! ––
He suddenly says one of us is going to betray him. There is no way he could know the deal I made with the Pharisees… – – right? Like the rest of the disciples, I SAY "IS IT ME, Lord?"
And then, this is so spooky – he looks right at me and whispers "YOU SAID IT". I got to admit – it unnerved me. I kept playing it cool. Then he says loud enough so everyone can hear, "go do what you have to do…” –– Obviously, I had to go play along with this, so I pick up my money bag and head out the door.
This was actually perfect. I had been looking for a chance to leave and tell the Pharisees… – and this was it. So I just had to slip away and get word to the priests. It could not have worked out better.
Once I tell the priests – it takes hours for them to get things organized. You would think they would have been ready! – I lead them back to the upper room, but of course at this point Jesus has left.
““Brothers,” he said, “the Scriptures had to be fulfilled concerning Judas, who guided those who arrested Jesus. This was predicted long ago by the Holy Spirit, speaking through King David.” (Acts 1:16, NLT) Then I remembered after the Passover Jesus would go to the mount of olives for prayer, just like usual.
“After saying these things, Jesus crossed the Kidron Valley with his disciples and entered a grove of olive trees. Judas, the betrayer, knew this place, because Jesus had often gone there with his disciples.” (John 18:1–2, NLT)
So, we head out of Jerusalem, and across the valley in the dark. We have to take torches and lanterns, so there is no chance of a surprise. I am out in front, leading the group of temple guards to Jesus. It is pretty obvious what is happening, so I greeted with him with a Kiss… my idea… it delays suspicion, and it ensure the guards would get the right guy.
[SMILE] “Greetings Teacher, my Dear Teacher!”
It is a painful moment. Jesus looks at me with disappointment written all over him. He knew this was coming all night – he had given me permission at the dinner! But the Kiss. The Kiss really hurt him. I think that was the first time I realized this might not work out the way I planned. It would not be clean. I didn’t count on these feelings.
“Wounds from a sincere friend are better than many kisses from an enemy.” (Proverbs 27:6, NLT)
But there is no time to consider that now. Jesus clears up any doubt of his identity by admitting to the officers that he is Jesus of Nazareth. At that moment, there is this intense blast of –– I don’t know… –something, like a wind. And it knocks us all down. I think “this is it!”… Jesus is going to reveal himself now as the Messiah!
But like always, Jesus gives up the advantage. He offers himself up, asking them to ignore the rest. The disciples start to figure it out about then.
Wouldn't you know it that's when that hothead Peter attacks me with a sword! The foolish fisherman doesn't know what he's doing. Can't he understand I am doing this for all of us? Jesus needs this push!
Peter doesn't care about the sacrifice I am making –– but if being misunderstood is what it takes to make this work, so be it.
Well, I dodge out of the way, and Peter ends up lopping off someone's ear.
Somehow Jesus stops things before it turns into a free for all. ––
Jesus heals this guy, puts his ear right back on. Now of course that is impressive. Your being arrested, and you stop to heal the people arresting you. Crazy stuff, right? Jesus is the Messiah. You would think This would be a great dramatic moment for Jesus to take command of that small fighting force and march back into Jerusalem, but instead he lets them bind him and lead him away.
I really thought Jesus would have stopped things tight there in the garden. But nope, he willingly lets them lead him to the Sanhedrin. All night I watch the trial and the developments… surely now he will explain who he is. That he has come to set captive Israel free from the bonds of tyranny and oppression as the zealot has been saying. But instead tonight I stand and watch the unthinkable happen.
My plan has been falling apart before my eyes all night. Jesus could have done any number of miracles, he could have stood up and shouted, PEACE like he did to the waves. He could have called down legions of angels to show them. They would have all seen he is the Messiah. But nope nothing. Not even passive resistance.
I have been watching this night in growing horror the web the chief priests and elders have woven with witnesses, King Herod, and even Pontius Pilate.
LOOK! Even now they are dragging him off to Pilate. He is going willingly.
[judas is Wringing his hands]
This entire time, Jesus has done absolutely nothing. Not even a word. Just took it standing still and silent. It was perfect time to call down lighting and reveal the power he has. But nothing.
I can't believe it. Mocked. Hit. Cursed. Spat upon… no man can let that go on like this.
Not a man with power like Jesus.
That stuff he said about loving your enemies
praying for them,
turning the other cheek,
setting aside your rights.
That was some great material. But we all knew no one could really do it. Yet there he was, this entire night, loving them. Praying for them. They were making up lies, terrible lies about him, and He did not even defend himself. He honored them, – while they dishonored him.
Oh no! – [pause] – Oh NO!... – [pause] – This can’t be happening. This is not the way I planned it.
He is not going to resist them.
He is going to give them everything they want. They want him dead.
And he is going to give them his cloak and his tunic as well.
He is literally turning his cheek. Just like he taught us.
He was doing the impossible.
He is letting them kill him.
He is going to die and it will be my fault.
How can he do this? I thought I knew Jesus… I don’t know him at all.
What kind of Messiah lets himself be killed?
I thought I could force him. To do this my way. What was I thinking? –– STUPID!
I can still remember those last words Jesus spoke to everyone before I left. He was so sad. “The Son of Man indeed goes just as it is written of Him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been good for that man if he had not been born.”
I see now he was not being melodramatic or spiritually. He meant it literally.
He said it would have been better if I had not been born.
What have I done? I have betrayed innocent blood. The only person who ever really loved me. There is no hope for me now.
I can't keep this money. –– I don’t deserve anything.
“Here, take this. –– I can't keep it. –– I have sinned. I have betrayed an innocent life.”
PRIEST: "What is that to us?!" It's your problem."
“Then Judas, His betrayer, seeing that He had been condemned, was remorseful and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, saying, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.” And they said, “What is that to us? You see to it!”
WHAT did you say? It Is my problem?
[throw the money purse down spilling the coins]
Oh God it is my problem! I did this. It’s my fault.
[sorrow turns to grief]
I deserve to die!
I have ruined everything!
THERE IS NOTHING LEFT FOR ME NOW! – –
Lord, Lord, have I not cast out daemons in your name, and done many mighty miracles?
“On judgment day many will say to me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.’ But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws.’” (Matthew 7:22–23, NLT)
God, I don’t understand you! You make no sense to me.
[grief turns to bitterness]
This is all your fault. You were supposed to be the Messiah.
You have betrayed me.
[bitterness turns to hate]
How can I face any of them again, after what I have done? They will kill me.
I won't give them that chance. I still have this last dignity left…
I would rather die than beg for their forgiveness.
[spitting in Hatred]
[stumble on out the door]
“as an apostle to replace Judas in this ministry, for he has deserted us and gone where he belongs.”” (Acts 1:25, NLT)
“(Judas had bought a field with the money he received for his treachery. Falling headfirst there, his body split open, spilling out all his intestines. The news of his death spread to all the people of Jerusalem, and they gave the place the Aramaic name Akeldama, which means “Field of Blood.”)” (Acts 1:18–19, NLT)