Jackpot!

Matthew 26:14 “Then one of the twelve…the one called Judas Iscariot…went to the chief priests and asked “What are you willing to give me if I hand Him over to you?”

Observation: It was two days before Passover, and the chief priests and elders assembled in Caiaphas’ palace, plotting Jesus’ arrest and death. Their quandary was this: they dare not arrest Him in the midst of Passover crowds for fear of causing a riot, but they didn’t know where to find Him at night. Judas’ offer of betrayal was the perfect solution.

Application: Jackpot! Imagine the smiles of delight dawning on the schemers’ faces. It surely never occurred to them that one of the twelve could be so tempted. A member of Jesus’ inner circle? One who had walked with and watched the Master for three years, a betrayer? “This is our lucky day,” they must have exulted; “We never imagined this could be so easy!”

The important thing to notice is that Judas went to them. His sin was at his own initiative, to accomplish his own dark purposes. Until now the disciples had been uniformly watchful of possible harm, steering stress-inducing crowds away from Jesus, trying to shield Him from wads of adoring children and even from cities that might harbor harm. Yet now, one of the twelve consciously chooses to reverse course. Judas’ inner blackness erupted into his consciousness and he purposed to commit history’s most profound betrayal.

What can be said for Judas? What, indeed, can be said for me when I commit my own dark calumny? Shall I blame someone else? Adam blamed. Eve blamed. Even Willie Horton famously blamed the fact that banks having money was the reason for his thievery. With temptations ever before me, is my dark yielding the fault of the temptation or the one through whom temptation comes? Of course not!

When I surrender to temptation, I am exactly like Judas. He took betrayal’s initiative because of what was in his heart, not because he was confident that the high priest was looking for a hired gun. He simply knew he wanted money; his sinful heart did the rest. There will always be neon in Time’s Square and prostitutes in shadowy doorways. There will always be pornography on the Internet and profit to be made in business dealings designed to cut integrity’s corners. But my yielding to such temptations is always my fault. No one else can rightly be blamed when I fail. I am the guilty one.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, You took my sin upon You; You took my guilt. Willingly, for no reason but love You have chosen to remake me from the inside out. Forgive me, Lord, for not walking fully and consistently in the freedom You proffer. Fill me afresh Holy Spirit, that I might walk in Your empowering love.

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