Don’t Hoard Like a Piggy Bank
Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall
Matt. 26:15b (Holman) So they weighed out 30 pieces of silver for him.
How sad that the beautiful moment of the woman giving to Jesus pushed Judas over the edge. Seeing goodness and generosity in others often enrages evil. We do not want this as our legacy. Prefer instead a life of holiness, which “will spread a halo over the dying couch” (David Thomas).
The religious leaders were thrilled to deal with Judas. He gave them hope. They had thought they would have to wait to deal with Jesus till after the holiday crowds left Jerusalem, but now they saw a potential crack in the Nazarene’s armor; maybe not everyone in the crowd was on His side. His backing was possibly slipping, even among His closest base of supporters.
It is no surprise that Matthew is the only Gospel writer who recorded the amount of this transaction; he was a tax collector. Thirty pieces of silver was the price of a slave (Exodus 21:32; Zechariah 11:12). The religious leaders may have chosen this amount to show their contempt for Jesus.
He had healed the sick, blind, lame, and demon-possessed, and had raised the dead, but to them He was of little value, worth in cold cash only 30 pieces of silver. They helped identify Jesus with slaves, the lowest and least valued in society; this was the reason He left Heaven in the first place.
Beware the love of money; it is a root of all evils (1 Tim. 6:10), as Demas proved (2 Tim. 4:10). Too many people are like the piggy banks that have only one slot–a very small one for coins to go in. The money, once in, is hard to get out. To retrieve the change, people often turn the banks upside down and shake them at odd angles, hoping coins will fall out the slot.
Many people are this way. They make money, but find it hard to give away any to God’s work or to the poor. They receive, but rarely dispense.
Matt. 26:16 And from that time he started looking for a good
opportunity to betray Him.
To avoid provoking a riot, the leaders wanted to arrest Jesus neither in public nor in daylight. A private place, under the cover of darkness, would be best, but they did not know where they could find Jesus alone at night.
By obliging them, Judas earned the title of ultimate betrayer. There is no way to escape the verdict Judas was an arch villain. Even Shakespeare played on this theme. His character Othello counted himself a traitor, saying he “like the base Judean, threw away a pearl richer than all his tribe”.
Judas refused to accept Jesus as He was. The betrayer wanted to make His Master into what he wanted Him to be. People today still want to deny the Christ of Scripture. They want a God made in their own image.
In the last century, when theologians turned from the Bible, and began what they called a quest to find the historical Jesus, they kept looking down the well of history and amazingly ended up seeing at the bottom of their research a mirror of their own faces. They all made Jesus look like them.
This is backwards. He must change us. Do not mistakenly think we are better and smarter than the Bible writers who knew Jesus firsthand.
In considering this Judas-tragedy, I do not want to end my reflections with thoughts about his darkness. Instead, I want to turn our focus to Jesus.
There can never be any doubt Judas was treacherous, yet Jesus loved him. The same gospels that record Judas’ cruelty also picture a loving Lord who reached out repeatedly in love to the traitor. If ever a person could be excluded from God’s love, it would be Judas. But as Judas became more and more a devil, Jesus remained Jesus, ever showing true love for His betrayer.
The question we often ponder is; why did Jesus pick Judas in the first place? It’s a hard question to answer. Another tough question is; why did He choose us? Were we sinless, respectable, or have congenial personalities?
Jesus loved Judas from the first. Chosen as one of the Twelve, Judas was never negatively singled out or excluded. In fact, the opposite was true. Jesus placed honor on Judas by selecting him to be treasurer of the group.
By including Judas among the Twelve, Jesus everlastingly proved He would, if allowed to, save people as evil as a traitor. Jesus’ love is strong enough to reach anyone. I appreciate the fact Jesus was willing to have a hardened sinner nearby. I fear we too often isolate ourselves from the very people who need us most. Do you and I regularly interact in our social lives with anyone who is lost? Do we consistently hang out with people who need Jesus, or are all our acquaintances already safely in the fold?
Jesus loved Judas from the first, and to the end. When Jesus gathered the Twelve in the upper room, Judas had already contacted the religious leaders. Jesus knew this, but gave Judas a seat of honor. We know the traitor was within reach of Jesus; He was able to place a morsel in Judas’ plate.
Jesus stooped to wash Judas’ feet along with the other disciples. This was one of Jesus’ strongest acts of condescension and familiarity. He washed feet that had already sought out the chief priests, feet that would guide soldiers to Him. Within hours the deed would be accomplished, but Jesus continued to love Judas. Treachery it was, but Jesus still loved him.
How long should we followers of Christ be loving, kind and gracious? Till they crucify us, and even then our prayer is to be “Father, forgive them.”
We know Judas went to Hell. We also know he went there not because he betrayed Jesus, and not because Jesus did not love Him. Judas entered perdition because he never asked to be forgiven by Jesus.
Judas’ inaction was enough to condemn him. He did not have to curse the Lord. He merely held his peace and did no more. Silence was sufficient.
It is very easy to ruin our soul when Christ pleads with us and draws us to Himself. We don’t have to attack God to go to Hell. Just stand still, close our hearts, become engrossed with earthly matters, and drift on until the time of reckoning arrives. Delay is refusal; non-submission is rebellion.
Hell is entered by being passive, and staying stationary. We don’t have to do anything overt to prove our insolence.
There is no need to lift a clenched hand in defiance. Just keep our hands folded and behind our back. A closed hand remains an empty hand.
Anyone who does not believe is already condemned (JN 3:18b). May we open our eyes and hearts to Jesus. His love deserves our yielding to Him.
His love also deserves our ongoing gratitude as believers. Charles Wesley, when he first learned of the new birth, could not find any place to preach his newfound message. In his zeal to find someone to witness to, he began working among the condemned criminals at Newgate prison.
One of them, sick with a fever, listened to Wesley’s description of Christ’s suffering and death. The condemned man listened with astonishment. As tears trickled down his face, he cried, “What ? Was it for me? Did God suffer all this for so poor a creature as me?” Three days later, Wesley returned and found him, though condemned, happy as he could be.
I fear we all occasionally need to revisit our first feelings of being overwhelmed by Christ’s love when He saved us. I have for years appreciated what Ruthie has told me. She says when I get to Heaven, I will find her at Jesus’ feet, saying, “Thank You for the cross.” Amen and amen.