If you followed the comments on the CSI Jerusalem series, (here, here and here) you noticed that it’s impossible to come to an agreement about Judas. Individuals give different weight to the different conflicting Biblical passages and that leads us to different conclusions.
Obviously it was in the power of the Holy Spirit to make it crystal clear to us what happened back then, but God left it murky. And I will hazard a guess as to why. It’s because any one of us had the power to be Judas.
It didn’t need to be thirty pieces of silver. I’m going to go back to what I said in my first post, which is that if the price gets high enough, just about any one of us would be tempted to hand over Jesus.
I’ll be totally honest: if I’d been alive back then, and if I hadn’t believed Jesus was who he said he was, I’d have been right there with the Temple authorities urging the Romans to have Jesus removed. Relations with Rome were tense but stable, and having someone come along preaching a new kingdom and possibly readying to start a revolution — which might well result in the end of Judaism’s freedom to worship under Roman rule — well, that would be dangerous. For the sake of my family and children, I’d have wanted him silenced.
And overall, we all have something in our hearts that when it comes down to brass tacks, it’s going to be hard to give up even if God asks us to do it. It’s the attachment to sin which makes it so hard to stop sinning.
In my heart, I do want to believe Judas had a good motive. That simultaneously adds to and relieves the tragedy. One of the comments cites an old ballad that Judas might have been blackmailed by a lover, but that led me to a chain of other thoughts: what if Judas, during his second-year trip to Jerusalem, kind of got carried away with that whole “I’m following the Messiah” thing and used it to impress a young woman, and during the third year trip, he found her carrying his baby on her hip? She wouldn’t need to blackmail him. If he wanted to do right by her, he might have tried to get some cash to get her out of the city.
In other words, the greed didn’t have to be on his own behalf. He might have had a younger brother, in trouble with loan sharks, and Judas wanted to save the kid’s life by paying off his brother’s creditors. See?
But the ultimate temptation, in the above scenarios, is “I will solve it myself” and “I will do it myself” and “I don’t need God to take care of this for me.” In the good-hearted-Judas-who-needs-money scenarios, that’s the prime motivator. It would also be the ultimate temptation in the scenario of “I’ll just get Jesus together with the Temple authorities, he’ll show them his power, and we’ll start the revolution.”
God has His own timetable. Forcing God’s hand isn’t a good idea. And yes, I plan to follow this up with a piece on “The Ultimate Temptation,” because it’s one that almost every human being falls for over and over again.