Then one of the Twelve—the one called Judas Iscariot—went to the chief priests and asked, “What are you willing to give me if I deliver him over to you?” So they counted out for him thirty pieces of silver. From then on Judas watched for an opportunity to hand him over.
~ Matthew 26:14-16
By this time it is obvious that the King that many people thought Jesus to be, is not the King that Jesus was. I can't imagine the emotions that must have been felt among his close circle of friends, and those that continued to wave their palms, maybe not as they did just days before.
Imagine the team that is used to winning each game, and to enter into the final moments of play, several points behind. The once enthused crowd, waving arms and holding up signs, now are sitting, and the arms have moved from waving in the air, to hanging to the side, or worse, crossed in disgust.
Something had to change.
We all know that by this time each Disciple had to have thought what life would be like without Jesus. The priests had been so very critical of this man's teachings. Waiting for any moment that might even so much as muddy the law, that there might be "something" that they could act upon.
The crowds have grown, and now have grown impatient. No longer simple fish and bread, or for that matter, water into wine. No, they wanted it ALL! Increasingly Rome saw this group as a threat. What better way to control a people than to cause confusion among it's people. What better way to cause confusion than to cause it's religious leaders to become instruments of their message. What better way to destroy a close group of people than to find the weakest link and play the person.
Like a modern-day Shonda Rhimes script, this wasn't something even the Disciples expected.
Except for ONE. Jesus.
"Go and do what you must," will be the permission that will set this entire plan into motion.
We all would like to think that there is nothing that can cause the intentions of our lives to be changed. While working with the homeless on the streets of Houston, I learned that even those with the best intentions, when desperate, will sometimes do desperate things.
There was a lot of desperation surrounding all of this. Rome, religious leaders, and the people had become desperate. Even Jesus will enter into the garden to pray and ask that this cup pass from him. There is great desperation, and now, betrayal.
One of the most painful expressions of hurt that any of us can experience is the thought, or worse, the act of being betrayed.
The human condition has known this since the serpent. It was closely followed by the blood of one brother on the hands of another. For Jesus, it begins with one person, and greed.
For years a debate has surrounded the actions of Judas as being part of God's plan, or a demonstration of how much evil there can exist in the world. To me, it doesn't matter. The life of a man would soon end because another man made this decision to betray and surrender to the plan of someone else.
This exists as the instrument of the coming pain and destruction of the hopes that others were dreaming of. Of crowds that waved palms and hands in the air, who would all soon be part of a desperate plan, and who will soon turn the waiving of palms into the shouts of angry people who all will have felt somewhat betrayed.
May we remain in God's grip!
G. Todd Williams (c) 2017
Lord, while I hope to always remain within Your plan for my life, help me when I feel that I have been betrayed by others, or even when I have forgotten the plans You have for me. Amen.
Rev. G. Todd Williams lives in the Houston metro area and is a Hospice Chaplain and ordained Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) pastor.