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“The Characters of Lent: Judas”
Matthew 26:14-27:5


Pastor Kevin Vogts
Holy Cross Lutheran Church
Dakota Dunes, South Dakota
Ash Wednesday—February 25, 2009

Mark reports, “The chief priests and the teachers of the law were looking for some sly way to arrest Jesus and kill him.”  They wanted to arrest Jesus quietly, at night.  But, how would they even find Jesus among the 200,000 Passover pilgrims camped in the hills around Jerusalem?  To carry out their murderous plot, Jesus’ enemies needed an insider, one of his own inner circle who would betray him.  As John reports, “Jesus left with his disciples and crossed the Kidron Valley. On the other side there was an olive grove, and he and his disciples went into it.  Now Judas, who betrayed him, knew the place, because Jesus had often met there with his disciples.”

Friday of Holy Week is called Good Friday, the day our Savior died; Thursday of Holy Week is called Maundy Thursday, the night of the Last Supper; and Wednesday of Holy Week is called Spy Wednesday, because tradition says it was on that day the spy Judas went to the chief priests and asked, “What are you willing to give me if I hand him over to you?”  Mark reports, “They were delighted to hear this and promised to give him money.”

What was the motive for Judas Iscariot to betray Jesus?  Money.  According to Matthew, 30 pieces of silver, 30 silver coins like this one, a Roman denarius, equal to one day’s wages.  In today’s dollars, 30 denarii would be about $3,000.

Peter says, “It was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed . . . but with the precious blood of Christ.”  The spiritual treasure which Jesus earned for you by his death is so much more valuable than ANY earthly treasure, for by his death Jesus earned for you redemption, forgiveness of all your sins, eternal life in heaven. 

Do not be like Judas, who gave up this glorious spiritual treasure for a measly earthly treasure, an earthly treasure which actually brought Judas not pleasure but the deepest despair.  As Paul tells Timothy: “Godliness with contentment is great gain.  For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it.  But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.  People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction.  For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.  But you, man of God, flee from all this.”

That is the lesson of the Lenten story of Judas.  Amen.

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