Then one of the twelve, whose name was Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, “What will you give me if I deliver him over to you?” And they paid him thirty pieces of silver. And from that moment he sought an opportunity to betray him.
Guy Fawkes led a plot of Catholic revolutionaries who tried to blow up the British Parliament with close to a ton of gunpowder. He was caught on the day he was supposed to detonate the powder – November 5, 1605.
Marcus Junius Brutus joined with dozens of other conspirators to plot the assassination of Julius Caesar – who, by all accounts, was a brutal dictator. He and others carried out the murder on March 15, 44 BC.
Benedict Arnold was a successful officer in the Continental Army during the American Revolution. In spite of his successes, General Arnold felt he was never properly rewarded, and so he plotted to hand over the American fort at West Point, N.Y. His British contact was discovered, and with him, so was the plot.
Judas Iscariot was one of the 12 disciples Jesus chose to follow Him. Unfortunately, Judas was apparently greedy, and he also seems to have been disappointed that Jesus wasn’t going to overthrow the Roman rulers. He arranged with the Jewish leaders to betray Jesus for 30 pieces of silver.
All four of these men live in infamy, and so do their names. Guy Fawkes was executed for his crimes and is remembered in England each year on a holiday that celebrates the uncovering of his plot. Brutus was key in William Shakespeare’s play, Julius Caesar, along with the famous line, “Et tu, Brute?” He later committed suicide after losing a key military battle. Benedict Arnold fled to England and found that the British didn’t like traitors any more than the Americans did. He eventually died in poverty in Canada. And Judas? He realized too late that he had betrayed an innocent man and tried to return the silver. Perhaps in shame or guilt, he hung himself.
No one wants to be remembered as Guy Fawkes. The phrase, “Et tu, Brute,” is often used when someone feels betrayed. It’s an insult to call someone a “Benedict Arnold.” And it’s an even bigger insult to call them a “Judas.”
In today’s scripture, we see the beginning of Judas’ journey into the “dark side.” Later in Matthew, we see Judas carry out the plot, culminating with a kiss on Jesus’ cheek in the Garden of Gethsemane. Judas was trusted by the King of Kings, and he rewarded that trust by turning Jesus in to the people who would kill Him.
Are we any better. We often say that we love Jesus and that He loves us, but how do we reward His love? By following Him and standing up for Him when others insult Him? By telling people about our Savior and asking them to trust Him, too? It’s all too easy to betray our Lord, even as we think that Judas is something and someone we could never be.
Today, think about times when you might not have stood up for Jesus when you had the chance, as well as the times that you did. Ask the Lord to strengthen your faith, and to help you defend Him if and when you’re challenged.
Reflection copyright © 2017 Doug DeBolt
Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.