So Much for So Little
Mark 14:10 Then Judas Iscariot, who was one of the twelve, went to the chief priests in order to betray him to them. 11 When they heard it, they were greatly pleased, and promised to give him money. So he began to look for an opportunity to betray him.
We see the greed of Judas in little glimpses of his life. These two small verses are sandwiched between two other incidents. The one that precedes it is the story of the woman with the alabaster jar and the one that follows is the last supper. Judas is incensed that the woman would pour out something so valuable on the feet of Jesus Christ. He complains that the money could have been given to help the poor, but that wasn’t really his concern. His love of money may have led him to becoming the group’s treasurer, not out of a desire of generosity but of control. When the woman opens the alabaster jar, he is suddenly out of control and she is going to “waste” something of great value on Jesus. His love had blinded him and he could not see the value in the woman’s action. Judas’ love of the things of the world far surpassed his love of Jesus and he took off to find a way to make more money.
Judas goes to the chief priests and there, a disciple, and the religious officials plot the doom of their Messiah. It is the love of power and money that brings together this dangerous combination. Each player in the scene willing to compromise everything they’ve ever learned about God and the scriptures for their own personal desires. The price on which they settle is thirty pieces of silver. This is the fine which must be paid in the Old Testament when a man or maid-servant is accidentally killed. (Exodus 21:32) That’s it — the value of the Messiah, that of the accidental death of a servant.
Judas couldn’t understand what it was that the woman was doing, and nor would he understand the cross. His lack of comprehension leaves him here, in the middle of the story where his love of money drives him to sell so much for so little. He couldn’t look beyond the obvious to see the real value of the Messiah and as a result, he lost it all.
“The supreme ‘offense’ was planned and perpetrated by no desperate criminal. It was the work of an apostle, and his accomplices were the heads of a divinely given religion. What an awful example of the deadening power, palsying the conscience, petrifying the heart, of religious observances devoid of real trust and love.” (Chadwick on Mark) They all gave up so much for so little!
Money and power were at the root of the behavior we see here and most of us would not want to believe that these two would be a factor in our own lives. We don’t want to believe that we might be seduced by them and yet, I’m afraid that we may be.
Sharing of resources and power is a difficult thing. If we were completely honest with ourselves we’re uncomfortable with this topic because it hits too close to home. Allowing others to have control over our resources is a scary thing. Allowing people into decision-making roles who do not look and talk just like us makes us extremely uncomfortable.
Judas was uncomfortable with what was happening and so he decided to take matters into his own hands. He couldn’t comprehend the Messiah who stood daily before him. Anointing him to do his official work was invisible to him, and a passover celebration leading to the end of slavery for all was beyond him. With his eyes fixed upon the things of the world he gave up the most valuable man ever known to humankind, and sold him for the price of a slave. If we do not allow God to open our eyes to what lay beyond the material we will give up the greatest of gifts for almost nothing. So much for so little. Judas lost it all.
Lord, please help me to keep my vision through you alone. Amen.