Hello everyone, my name is James & I’m part of the team here at STC. This week we are looking at Matthew 26 & 27, some of Jesus’ last few days before he went to the cross. Through this week we we will read what the political & religious leaders do: they arrest, try, convict and flog Jesus. We will read about what his disciples do: Judas betrays him, Peter denies him, and all abandon him. We will also learn what Jesus does: he predicts his own death and explains its meaning.
All the time we are asking a similar question of ourselves: what might be helpful to me and my apprenticeship to Jesus today?
So far in the story, Jesus has arrived in Jerusalem. We can recall from a week or so ago the incredible scenes of the triumphal entry. When Jesus rode into the city on a donkey. The people gathered on the crowded streets, palm trees were being waved. The timing couldn’t be more appropriate. People are gathering to celebrate the Passover festival – when the Jews where led to freedom. So was the Jewish custom – families, friends, colleagues would gather each year and remind themselves of the story – and give thanks. As you can imagine, the place was buzzing.
Yet in the background a plot was brewing… a plot against Jesus by the chief priests & the elders. Those political and religious leaders who are looking to arrest Jesus. The window to engage Jesus is short & his popularity seems to be stirring the city. On the one hand, Jesus is on their turf offering a unique opportunity. On the other hand, they can’t risk a public arrest… and we are told why in verses 4 & 5: “and they schemed to arrest Jesus secretly and kill him. “But not during the festival,” they said, “or there may be a riot among the people.””
The need a stealthier option and Judas provided that opportunity.
So here is the idea we will simply explore today: what kind of friend is Judas and what kind of friend am I?
Judas agrees to betray Jesus.
Why? We don’t really know: the money isn’t that much… 30 coins of silver… about 3 months’ wages… to hand over his friend.
Perhaps he was disappointed, maybe the entry to Jerusalem wasn’t the triumph he hoped for.
Perhaps he was offended, maybe Jesus really is a blasphemer.
Perhaps he was disillusioned, and he keeps saying he is going to die.
Perhaps he was in it just for a profit, thinking “I’ll just take the money and avoid arrest.”
All of these responses are incredibly human. Maybe like me, there are perhaps a few people listening that might relate to one or two of these reactions with some of our current relationships today. The truth is there will be times when we are let down, get offended, forget the point of a friendship. There may even be times when it costs us more than we get. But we don’t look at each other as commodities but as siblings.
It says in the book of Romans: “Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honour.” I love that two-fold encouragement. Love well, and try and outdo each other in showing honour. It’s good friendship competition and it stands directly in opposition to the temptation to treat people like a currency, using each other when convenient and then dropping each other at the first signs of difficulty. But that Romans passage simply puts the Jesus outlook of ‘I’m in this so that YOU, my friend, might thrive, grow & become more like a child of God.’
So think about you and me, what kind of friend are we? Think again about one thing you can put into practise to be a good friend and let’s out-do each other in goodness.
As we pray you might want to take some time to say thank you for the people God has placed in your life you can call a friend.
God thank you for this day that you have made. Full of opportunity to do good. Help us God to see where we can become better friends today. Amen.
READING: Matthew 26:1-16
When Jesus had finished saying all these things, he said to his disciples, ‘As you know, the Passover is two days away – and the Son of Man will be handed over to be crucified.’
Then the chief priests and the elders of the people assembled in the palace of the high priest, whose name was Caiaphas, and they schemed to arrest Jesus secretly and kill him. ‘But not during the festival,’ they said, ‘or there may be a riot among the people.’
While Jesus was in Bethany in the home of Simon the Leper, a woman came to him with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, which she poured on his head as he was reclining at the table.
When the disciples saw this, they were indignant. ‘Why this waste?’ they asked. ‘This perfume could have been sold at a high price and the money given to the poor.’
Aware of this, Jesus said to them, ‘Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a beautiful thing to me. The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me. When she poured this perfume on my body, she did it to prepare me for burial. Truly I tell you, wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.’
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 deliver him over to you?’ So they counted out for him thirty pieces of silver. From then on Judas watched for an opportunity to hand him over.