Matthew 26 demonstrates the extremes Jesus experienced in terms of loyalty in the last few days before He was turned over to be crucified. Earlier in Matthew 26, a woman honored Jesus by pouring expensive perfume on Him. Jesus was so pleased, that He said, 13“Truly I say to you, wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be spoken of in memory of her.” In the next verse we see Judas plotting to betray Him.
14Then one of the twelve, named Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests 15and said, “What are you willing to give me to betray Him to you?” And they weighed out thirty pieces of silver to him. 16From then on he began looking for a good opportunity to betray Jesus.
It is worth noting that Judas spent a lot of time with Jesus. He witnessed many miracles and heard much of Jesus’ teaching personally and directly. He gave the appearance to all except Jesus that he was a loyal follower and disciple. Note that Judas was not even approached by the chief priests… Judas went to them! What a truly hard heart and selfish spirit. Jesus knew He would be betrayed by Judas before Judas ever began to follow Him. He was not surprised. Jesus accepted Judas that long because He knew it was part of God’s plan.
Just because someone is involved in a church or ministry or other good activities does not mean they have a true personal relationship with Jesus. It does not mean they have submitted their lives to Jesus. We should look beyond actions to attitudes when discerning whether or not someone is genuine in their relationship with Jesus. This discernment is very important… who do you trust your children with in the nursery or kids church? who do you listen to as your pastor? what about young men and ladies considering marriage?
Many, when they read this scripture, want to quickly assert that they would never betray Jesus for such a sum of money… or at all. But we should all pause to consider… many believe they will not fail Jesus, but may not really be prepared for the difficulty or persecution they may face if they stand up for Jesus. Peter thought he would stand with Jesus unto death when Jesus told him that he would deny Him three times? Yet when the time came, Peter denied Jesus. I am sure also, that Eve did not plan to fail God in the garden, but when the time came, she did so by listening to the serpent.
The situation with Peter and Eve are different from that of Judas. Judas intentionally betrayed Jesus for profit. Peter and Eve failed to stand firm for God when tempted and tested. However, these examples stand as a warning for each of us to avoid being overconfident. If we are overconfident, saying to ourselves, “That will never happen to me”, then we are not, in fact, preparing ourselves for when that situation confronts us. We are more likely to fail if we are not planning ahead how to deal with such a situation.
Have you ever been tempted to steal, perhaps rationalizing that someone’s insurance will cover it or it is only a small item? Have you made business deals or personal deals to make money that compromised the values that Jesus teaches? Have you taken advantage of someone else by lying or deceiving them?
These are real life examples we are faced with in our lives where we either stand for Christ, fail under pressure, or outright betray Him… often for much less than the 30 pieces of silver that Judas received.
Decide ahead of time, now, to stand up for Jesus even when you think it may not matter. Get comfortable representing Him well and being a loyal servant even when you expect to be mocked or persecuted in return. Prepare to behave the way Jesus teaches us, even if it costs you money to do so. Choose to honor God in what you do and in what you fail to do.
If you find that you make a wrong decision, admit to yourself you did wrong, ask forgiveness from Jesus and dedicate yourself to do better next time. God’s grace is wonderful!
Have you submitted your life to Jesus Christ? If you die today, do you know for sure that you would be with God in heaven? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.