30 Pieces of Silver
Some in the church have called today, “Silent Wednesday” because it is the only day of Holy Week where we have no words of Jesus recorded. Traditionally, there is one event that took place on Wednesday of Holy Week, it is recorded in Matthew, chapter 25:14-16.
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. (Matthew 25:14-16)
30 Pieces of Silver—that was the amount that Judas bargained. Everyone has an opinion of how much that money was worth. Nobody is quite sure, but everybody agrees it was a modest amount. For a man who liked to dip his hand in the till every now and then, you would have thought he would have negotiated more.
30 Pieces of Silver—we know it was the price of a slave. I find slavery abominable, but I pay for services I have no desire doing. Before I moved to San Angelo, I paid for my lawn to be mowed each week, and I refuse to iron—so all shirts are dropped off at the cleaners—I am not really sure, but I am thinking that 30 pieces of silver would have covered laundry and lawn care for a year—Could it be that Judas betrayed Jesus for laundry and lawn care? I would have thought Judas would have been a better negotiator than this.
30 Pieces of Silver—some suggest it could be any where from one month- 4 months salary of a day laborer. It could have helped out in buying a chrome book, Lap top, or the latest and greatest IPhone. I don’t know… maybe the 30 pieces of silver would have made for a nice shopping spree at the mall or a spending spree on Amazon. Maybe even a nice vacation. All of those are nice things, but other than some immediate gratification, it seems like a cheap price to hand over an individual for death—I thought Judas, the Treasurer would have done better at this—the executives at the big bank would have created a better deal for themselves.
30 Pieces of Silver—John’s gospel tells us that Judas was greedy, but most can’t believe it was only money that motivated Judas—he sold out for such a paltry amount. I don’t know—I have known:
- Teens to sell family heirlooms worth thousands so that they can get one more fix on the drug of their choice.
- Men to throw away an irreplaceable family on one night of fun with some anonymous woman in a hotel room.
- Ministers to steal a small sum from the church, because they were to prideful to tell the church their issues.
- Families quit speaking to each other, because after the funeral, each of them thought they got cheated out of the inheritance, even though the amount was minimal.
I think you would be surprised what people will do for 30 pieces of silver.
But maybe Judas’ issue was not greed. Maybe Judas was jealous of his pecking order of the disciples. Maybe treasurer was a job he thought was regulated to the person to be seen, but not heard. Judas was not part of the big three who got invited up on the mountain. He was not the one in the inner circle—maybe that is why he agreed to 30 pieces of silver. I have seen jealousy take over one’s soul.
- He has been with the company for 8 years and not one promotion—they keep giving it to the younger guys—I wouldn’t blame him for taking out the CEO if given the chance.
- “The Girl Next Door” joins the organization and she flirts herself right to the top, getting whatever she wants and it does not matter that others were the one who did all the work—no credit for them—I wouldn’t blame someone for spreading a false rumor about her for some chump change.
Jealousy, I can see why some people think Judas agreed to 30 pieces of silver out of jealousy.
Another theory and the most popular is that Judas thought that by betraying Jesus, he was forcing Jesus’ hand. It makes sense. Judas had left everything to join the rag-tag motley crew of Jesus. He left his job, his home, and any loved ones for a life of roaming around some countryside for three years talking about something called “The kingdom of God”. Far be it, if he was going to let Jesus ruin it now—it was time to force Jesus’ hand. I think we understand this:
- One didn’t abandon a nice job to risk it all in a new venture that one thought God would bless, just to have to file bankruptcy.
- One didn’t wake up every Sunday morning and take one’s family to church just to watch one’s child make poor choice after poor choice.
- One didn’t marry their college sweetheart just to find out 25 years later that the flames don’t burn as bright as they use to.
One wants answers and results and if that means pushing Jesus into doing something, so be it. Where can I pick up my 30 pieces of silver to force Jesus to do something?
Whatever Judas’ reason was, the Biblical writers have little interest in telling us or coming up with conspiracy theories. The Bible is content to grant that there is just a mystery of evil. As the prophet Jeremiah said: The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?
30 Pieces of Silver—it seems like to modest an amount, to low a price, to little to sell one’s soul, but it is amazing what people will do, it is amazing what you and I will do for 30 pieces of silver.
Today is Silent Wednesday—I suggest another reason we call it that is that it gives us a day to look into the deepest part of who we are and confess that there is a part of Judas in us all, there is a part of us that is willing to bail out on Jesus for as little as 30 pieces of silver. As we meditate on that—we might just see what happens on Friday in a different light—we might see that Jesus didn’t just die on the cross for those sinners in the world—Jesus died on the cross for those sinners like me.
30 Pieces of Silver—it can make you think on a day like this. Today is Silent Wednesday.
Grace and Peace,
Let me invite you to our Holy Week Services this week:
Thursday (6:00 p.m.) - Maundy Thursday Service (Observance of the Lord’s Supper)
Friday (6:00 p.m.) - Good Friday Service of Darkness
Easter Sunday (9:00 a.m. & 10:45 a.m.) - Come celebrate Resurrection Sunday at either of our 2 services.