Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Thirty pieces of silver (Wednesday of Holy Week, Matt. 26:14-25)

One of the Twelve, who was called Judas Iscariot,
went to the chief priests and said,
“What are you willing to give me
if I hand him over to you?”
They paid him thirty pieces of silver,
and from that time on he looked
for an opportunity to hand him over.

* * * * * * *
Thirty pieces of silver—that’s all it took for the Son of God to be handed over to men who wished to kill him and destroy his message. One wonders what took over Judas’ mind and heart that he could exchange the love of his friend for such a measly amount. Did all those years of close contact with Jesus not do anything to him? Did he not learn to love him and know him intimately, as the other disciples did? Surely Judas had good moments with the Lord. Surely he enjoyed his company, otherwise he wouldn’t have followed him this far. Why the betrayal then?

Judas wanted to force the hand of God, he wanted to force Jesus into showing himself as the strong and powerful Messiah that he was. Like Peter, Judas couldn’t understand why Jesus had to suffer. But unlike Peter, Judas refused to be taught by Jesus and was too impatient for that teaching to finally come to him. He wanted action, and he wanted it now. But he miscalculated, and eventually regretted betraying his dear friend. He took his life on account of that mistake, and heaped yet another wrong on a wrong he had already done.

Judas is one of the truly tragic characters of scripture. But unlike Jesus, who was also a tragic figure, Judas’ tragedy ends there. There doesn’t seem to have been any redeeming moment to him, no redeeming scene. That’s what happens when humanity plays God, it finds itself in a corner, or sunk in a pit, unable to pull itself out. Only God can grant the final redemption of what to the world might appear a complete mistake.

"The Kingdom of Heaven is a condition of the heart." (Friedrich Nietzsche)