What’ll You Give Me?

Perhaps he had been expecting something more.

End our oppression, please.

Silence the government brutality, please.

Win back our esteem and our privilege and our rightful leading place, please.

Show me the money, please.

Isn’t physical restoration what Yahweh wanted for His People, the Jews?

And wasn’t Jesus the man to make that happen, just as the prophets promised?

Judas Iscariot had been an eyewitness to everything. All the healing and demons fleeing and Lazarus shuffling out of that tomb.

The walking on water thing. And the silencing the storm thing.

An exorbitant feast of food distributed from practically nothing.

Judas saw it with his own eyes.

But somehow, all of that amazing proof of power didn’t quite cut it for him. Judas, who was well rehearsed at taking for himself, had not found the satisfaction he continued to pursue.

Maybe Judas had lost hope for the victorious conclusion he expected when he heard Jesus talk about the end of things with predictions of a tumultuous loss and suffering. (Luke 18:31-34; Luke 19:41-44)

Physical defeat?

No one signs up for that, do they?

Judas, tired of waiting perhaps, pressed into some more obvious forward motion.

He went to the place he had been trained to trust. The chief priests.

He returned to the rule following, to the powerful and to the prestigious.

To the men who were in the know.

Judas approached with a question reeking of rationale and self preservation. (Matthew 26:14-16)

“What will you give me?”

In this most resounding historical moment, Judas whispered his own idolatry to some very religious folks. And he was well received.

What is in this for me?

The whole thing troubled Jesus in his spirit.

Gathered later with his apostles for the annual celebratory feast, Jesus pauses the festivities to announce to the room, “I tell you the truth, one of you is going to betray me.” (John 13:21)

It was not the usual script for the Passover. And his suggestion was renounced soundly around the table.

But Jesus stayed the course anyway.

He had communion to share, despite all the errant choosing.

“Jesus answered, “It is the one to whom I will give this piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish.” Then dipping the piece of bread, he gave it to Judas Iscariot, son of Simon.” (John 13:25-26)

If I knew a man was betraying me, I don’t think bread would be what I would instinctually offer first. But Jesus acknowledged Judas’ choice with the giving of bread.

“This is my body given for you…” (Luke 22:19)

In this moment of familial and comforting tradition, Jesus stays in a courageously authentic conversation creating all kinds of awkward for his apostles.

He was never afraid of the truth.

“What you are about to do, do quickly.” (John 13:27)

In every gospel account we read that Jesus knew his betrayer was Judas. Jesus knew. And he didn’t round up an infantry. Or call down angels. Or even exchange angry words.

He didn’t exclude him.

He welcomed him to the table and acknowledged the man’s choice. Bravely told him to get on with it.

But first He offered him the same broken bread and body he offered for me and you.

Jesus was shining His all knowing light into the darkness even then.

He persisted in the offering of communion—relationship—even in the shadows of faithlessness; and though Judas took the bread from Jesus’ hand another covenant was incumbent.

Judas had already rationalized and reasoned another way.

He had already arranged.

“You cannot serve both God and money…” (Matthew 6:24)

The chief priests offered Judas smiling approval and coins that shone like silver.

Jesus offered his very self.

What’ll you give me?

With the Passover lamb still warming his belly, Judas stepped away from the remembrance feast that evening leaving all the light behind him.

“And it was night.” (John 13:30)

Cheryl Cash
Fort Portal, Uganda