Fallen apostle Judas: The man money made mad

Voices of Religion

Posted: Friday, May 14, 2004

Shortly after "The Passion of the Christ" began surprising people with huge crowds and enthusiastic reviews, ABC presented a fictionalized life of Judas, the disciple who betrayed Jesus, making his name go down in infamy.

In the show, Judas fell in love with money, a romance the Bible calls "the root of all evil," 1 Timothy 1:10, and his aim for financial gain finally destroyed him.

Judas was a privileged man, having been called to be one of the apostles. He traveled with Jesus, heard his teachings and witnessed his miracles; he was even appointed treasurer of the group, possibly indicating he had some experience in business.

Judas was a trusted disciple, but proved unworthy of that trust.

Money seems to have always been a problem to Judas and this turned out to be his undoing. He started dipping into the funds entrusted to him and from then on, his life headed downhill, finally ending in his tragic death by his own hand.

When Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus, anointed the feet of Jesus, Judas complained that this expensive ointment should have been sold and the money given to the poor.

Actually, however, his protest was prompted by personal greed. His real desire for the sale of the ointment was so that the money would end up in the treasury and finally in his pocket.

According to the Bible, he was a thief, indicating his honesty was for sale if the price was high enough.

Later, when Judas bargained with the enemies of Christ for the price to betray him, he asked, "What are you willing to give me if I deliver him to you?"

Money had become more important than allegiance to the one he had claimed was his master.

Such crass commercialism in the selling of the Savior is hard for most of us to comprehend, yet the bargaining of betrayal is acted out day after day by many who once made commitments to follow their Lord at any cost for the rest of their lives.

When Jesus and his disciples entered Jerusalem on what we now know as Palm Sunday, Judas was there to hear the praises of the people as foretold by Zechariah the prophet 500 years earlier (Zechariah 9:9) too bad he forgot the 30 pieces of silver message by the same prophet, relating to his coming betrayal.

Judas was in the upper room with the other disciples for the first Communion, but soon left to seal the deal to betray his Lord with a kiss. Selling out must have been on his mind all during that sacred supper.

Sadly, Judas was not the last to have toyed with temptation during church only to leave and later yield to an inner urge of betrayal of former commitments when the price was right.

Temptation is common to all. Not one of us is immune to its power.

Some, like Judas, find their love for money keeping them in constant danger, luring them to dishonesty at income tax time or in business transactions. Others fall prey to lust, pride or the desire to be accepted by others even if it means compromising their convictions or even denying their faith.

Judas later regretted his infamous deal. He tried to return the 30 pieces of silver, and when his cohorts refused to accept it or any responsibility for the crime, he threw the money at their feet and ended his life.

The price of betrayal, set and accepted by Judas, wasn't right after all. It never is.

What's your price?

Roger Campbell is an author, radio broadcaster and newspaper columnist from Waterford, Mich. He has written more than 20 books and has had articles published in most major Christian magazines. He was a pastor for 22 years and has been a guest speaker in Alaska churches from Anchorage to Homer.

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