“Scenes from the passion” Lent devotion for Sunday, February 21, 2021. Photo by Noah Silliman on Unsplash
“Judas sought an opportunity to betray Jesus” (Mark 14:11).
Sometimes you have to be patient.
Like a hunter waiting in a blind for the deer to wander by. Or in the reeds, retriever at your side, waiting for the ducks. Or for that something you really want to go on sale. In recent days Jesus has been teaching in the temple, where there were too many people around. Judas had to find a moment when Jesus would be alone, or at least away from the crowds. Someplace where they could quietly arrest him.
“Scenes from the passion” Lent devotion for Saturday, February 20, 2021. Artwork by Susan Zendt copyright 2021 used by permission.
“Then Judas Iscariot, who was one of the twelve, went to the chief priests to betray Him to them. When they heard it, they were glad and promised to give him silver. So he looked for how he might conveniently betray Him” (Mark 14:10-11).
For two thousand years, we’ve been wondering, “Judas, why did you do it?” Why did you cut a deal with the chief priests to betray Jesus?
Then when Judas, his betrayer, saw that Jesus was condemned, he changed his mind and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders, saying, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.” They said, “What is that to us? See to it yourself.” And throwing down the pieces of silver into the temple, he departed, and he went and hanged himself. But the chief priests, taking the pieces of silver, said, “It is not lawful to put them into the treasury, since it is blood money.” (Matthew 27:3-6)
Judas agreed to betray Jesus, to take a mob to where Jesus was, in exchange for thirty pieces of silver. In today’s money, about $600. After Jesus is arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane, Judas realizes he’s made a big mistake. His change of mind, though, is too late. The chief priests and elders are quick to point out, “No refunds or exchanges.”
Judas throws the money into the temple and leaves to go hang himself. What are they going to do with that money? All of a sudden the chief priests get all ethical and don’t want the money back since it is “blood money.” In other words, it’s payment for Jesus’ death. To them, it was worth every penny anyway. In less than twenty-four hours, their “Jesus problem” would be resolved. He would be gone.
You and I pay to make problems go away all the time. We pay the lawn guy to take care of the weeds, the dry cleaner to get the wrinkles out of a suit, the exterminator to rid the house of bugs and a hair stylist to cover up the gray hair.
But there’s no one to pay to over up our sins, failures, shame and guilt. We try, though. We’ll buy a nice gift, flowers or a fruit basket to make amends with someone we’ve wronged. Sounds kind of shallow when you think of it that way. And it is.
Only Christ can fully pay for or atone for our sins. Yes, it costs him his life. His blood. That’s the real “blood money.”
Thank you, Jesus, for the blood money that makes my sin problem go away. Amen.