The Clouds of Darkness Grow
With all the teaching that Jesus did on Tuesday, it’s no surprise that Wednesday is a much quieter day for Jesus in the gospel accounts. But his enemies got busy.
Luke tells us that it was on Wednesday that Satan actually entered Judas, leading him to pursue his plan of betrayal.
Mark’s account may actually shed a little light as to what pushed Judas over the edge. Perhaps it was bitterness & anger that opened him further to the destructive scheme of Satan?
You see, it was Judas who was frustrated with the “waste” of expensive perfume that the woman poured over Jesus. Judas thought the perfume could be sold for money to be given to the poor. Or so he said. John’s gospel, however, makes clear that Judas didn’t actually care about the poor at all. “He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it.” (John 12:6)
Jesus knew that what she had done was actually to begin to prepare his body for burial and he rebuked Judas telling him to leave her alone. He said, “Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them any time you want. But you will not always have me.” Later he said, “I tell you the truth, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.”
I don’t imagine Judas enjoyed being called out by Jesus like that. The very next verse (Mark 14:10) says, “Then Judas Iscariot, one of the Twelve, went to the chief priests to betray Jesus to them.”
And of course, he did it for money.
Judas must have been the answer to the “prayer” of the chief priests and teachers of the law. They had been looking for “some sly way to arrest Jesus and kill him.” Now all they had to do was wait until the Passover Feast was over, so that the people wouldn’t riot.
As we move forward in these final days of Jesus' earthly life and mission…the clouds of darkness grow. Human depravity and demonic hatred are on the scene. Greed, anger, bitterness, hatred, scheming, lying, betrayal…
As the darkness grows, so does the weight of what’s happening. It’d be easy for me to point my finger at Judas in self-righteous disgust.
But in this story…nobody gets away with clean hands.
Jesus was going to the Cross for MY sin… my greed, my anger, my hatred, my betrayal. And yours too.
As the song “What Have We Done?” so pointedly states, “Judas sold you for 30 (pieces of silver)…I’d have done it for less.”
The betrayal and scheme to arrest Jesus is a dark, sad scene. And the same darkness was in us before Christ rescued us.
And here’s a crazy thought: Jesus knew it was coming. God wasn’t asleep at the switch. This was all part of the Plan. But woe to him who betrays the Son of Man and fails to repent.
Thanks be to God, Jesus stayed the course even as the clouds of darkness grew.
“Father, how great is your love for us. How incredible your plan to destroy the works of Satan. Jesus, forgive me for the times and the ways that I’ve betrayed and denied you…for the times I’ve given in to bitterness, anger, greed, or hatred. Lord, thank you for your gift of mercy and grace to ransom a sinner like me. Father, continue to purify and refine my devotion to you, that I might be faithful when tempted and sobered by the price you paid and the pain of betrayal you endured to purchase my salvation. Overthrow the work of the evil one in our city, in our nation, in our world. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.”