Matthew 26:14-16 – Some Seem to Say, “What Can Jesus Do for Me or What Can Church Do for Me?”

Posted: March 29, 2016 in Gospel of Matthew

Matthew 26:14-16

Judas Plans to Betray Jesus

Have you ever left a church because you were angry with the pastor for something that he didn’t say or didn’t do or maybe it was something he said or something he did? Maybe he took a position on a social issue that you didn’t like or maybe he shot straight with you about something you were doing that was not biblical or maybe he didn’t support a cause that you thought was worthy and that you thought he wasn’t as fervent about it as you thought he should be. Maybe he discontinued a ministry that was your pet project. Maybe he didn’t think a project that you were interested in was in keeping with the particular mission of this church. Maybe he didn’t pick you to do something. Maybe you thought he should lead you by the hand but he was expecting you to grow in your walk. There are a million reasons why we leave churches that have nothing to do with doctrinal issues. Sure, it may be right for us to leave churches if the church has strayed off course from the Bible and the preacher is the cause of that. However, that seems never to be the reason that people leave churches. It is always over issues of ego or power or a perceived slight by the pastor or a difference of opinion over the color of the carpet or who should be in charge of something, a lack of shown favor by the pastor. It always seems that a pastor is going to make someone in the church angry over something at every turn. That is why many pastors will tell you that if you feel the call to ministry you better make sure that it is not your ego talking and rather the Holy Spirit making you so uneasy that you cannot do anything else because being a minister is often a thankless job. You are going to make someone unhappy no matter what you do.

 

It is that idea of trying to make church into something that suits my agenda that illustrates much of what I see in Judas. I think that there were things that Judas wanted from Jesus that were not in keeping with Jesus’ mission. He was trying to make Jesus into what he wanted Him to be and it led to a great sense of disillusionment on Judas’ part which leads us to today’s passage, Matthew 26:14-16:

 

14 Then one of the Twelve—the one called Judas Iscariot—went to the chief priests 15 and asked, “What are you willing to give me if I deliver him over to you?” So they counted out for him thirty pieces of silver. 16 From then on Judas watched for an opportunity to hand him over.

 

You notice in Matthew that this passage immediate proceeds after the anointing of Jesus with expensive oil or perfume by Lazarus’ sister, Mary.  We know from the Gospel of John that Judas was the most vociferous of Jesus’ disciples about this apparent waste of a valuable asset that could have been exchanged for money and that money could be used for helping the poor. There are many conjectured reasons as to why Judas betrayed Jesus. Scripture does not give us much help in this area as to political motivations but there are a few things that we do know from Scripture.

 

First, Judas was not saved. He did not believe Jesus to be God. While other disciples made professions of faith in Jesus as the Son of God, Judas never did (John 6:68, 11:16). In all three synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark and Luke), Judas is always mentioned last. The lists were always made in relation to how close each disciples relationship with Jesus was. He was greedy (John 12:5-6). I think too, though not specifically stated in Scripture directly but given the general cluelessness of the disciples in most cases, he may have expected Jesus to be what many Israelites expected that the Messiah would be a conquering hero. All of these things combined to make Judas disillusioned enough to betray Jesus or maybe he felt the betrayal would force Jesus to bring about the revolution that Israelites wanted. Bottom line is that Judas was associated with Jesus for reasons different from the other disciples. The other disciples wanted to be associated with Jesus so that they could learn from Him whereas it seems that Judas was more associated with Jesus for political and economic reasons. Although he was part of Jesus’ public ministry from the beginning, he was there for personal reasons. Even though he was sent out with the disciples to preach the gospel, he was not there to see others saved. He was there because he probably saw this Jesus as an opportunity to be on the inside of a new wave of political and theological thought that would sweep the country and make Jesus a powerful man. He wanted to be on the inside of that. He wanted Jesus to be a political Messiah that would shake things up in Israel including getting rid of the Romans. He probably loved Jesus’ charisma and saw Him as a horse he could hitch his wagon to. Remember, the disciples at one time were arguing who would be greatest in Jesus’ new kingdom. Judas apparently took that more seriously than the others. It is my opinion that Judas saw Jesus as a way for him to be on the inside of a populist movement to overthrow the Jewish religious establishment and then lead a revolt against Rome that would have extreme popular support. However, Jesus was to have none of this temporal, political stuff. Jesus was there to bring the good news of reconciliation with God through His own death as the perfect sacrifice for sin. Jesus’ mission was different than Judas’ mission for Jesus. When he saw Jesus becoming a liability rather than an advantage to him, he was ready to jump ship in any way that he could. He was ready to hitch his wagon to the Jewish establishment when he saw that Jesus was flirting with political disaster by the things he was saying. Jesus was not satisfying his greed for money and power.

 

How many times do you see that in church today and throughout history? How many times have we used Jesus to get what we want and how many times do we abandon ship on Jesus when we don’t get what we want? How many times do we make church about what we want? Before we condemn Judas for revealing who he really was through his actions? We must examine ourselves. Are we really in love with Jesus or are we just at church to get what we want? Are we there to get our needs met? Are we ones who will betray Jesus just so we won’t be singled out for being a believer? Are we ones who will not witness to others, and betray Jesus, because we are fearful of being singled out as a Jesus freak? Do we sell Jesus down the river just so we will fit in with the culture around us? Do we keep quiet about Jesus just so we won’t be ridiculed? An outward show of loyalty to Jesus is meaningless unless we also follow Christ in our heart. Satan and the world will try to get us to betray Jesus, so we must ask the Holy Spirit for help in resisting them. How willing are you and I to follow Jesus when it may cost us reputation, comfort, and even our very lives? When the crunch is on will we follow Jesus? As well, do we make church about what church can do for us? Do we get mad and leave a church just because church is not doing things the way we want? Are we using church to get what we want? Are we at church to be on the inside of the newest thing? Are we at church because there we have power? What is our motivation for following Jesus Christ? Is it because we love Him and follow Him because in Him we have salvation and we live our lives as thanksgiving to Him? Are we there because of what we know He did for us? Are we there because He made us clean in the sight of God? Are we there to learn to live more like Him?

 

Why are you at church? Is it to be seen or is it to see Jesus?

 

Amen and Amen.

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