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

Who is the Greatest?

On more than one occasion, Jesus had to settle disputes between his disciples when they were arguing over who would be the greatest in the kingdom Jesus came to establish. On one occasion, the mother of James and John went to Jesus, along with her two sons, asking Jesus to put them in a place of honor in his kingdom, one on his right and the other on his left (Matthew 20:20-21). Can you imagine having your mother take you to your employer to request a promotion? Jesus had to explain to them every single time that being the greatest in the kingdom of God isn’t the same as being the greatest in the kingdom of this world. To be the greatest in the kingdom of God means to be willing to take the lowest position, not demanding the place of honor. While the world sees greatness as a position in which one has the privilege of being served, Jesus sees greatness as a position in which one has the privilege of serving others. Jesus said, “whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:26-28)

In John chapters 13-16, we have the privilege of eavesdropping on Jesus’ final encounter with his disciples. Jesus knew that the time had come when he would have to leave this earth, so he used his final meal with his disciples to make sure they knew everything they needed to know to continue the mission he came to begin. His first order of business was to demonstrate to them something his words were unable to convey. In John 13:1-16, as Jesus and his disciples sit down for their meal, Jesus gets up, takes off his outer clothes, wraps a towel around his waist and begins to wash his disciples’ feet. The washing of feet was a customary practice in those times. Since people walked in the dirt wearing sandals, whenever they arrived at someone’s home for dinner, the servant of the house would wash their feet to get all of the dirt off. If we focus too much on the act of the foot washing, we risk losing the meaning of what Jesus was trying to demonstrate. Jesus. The Messiah. The Son of God. God in the flesh. The one who just days before was given a grand entrance into Jerusalem, taking the place of a lowly servant to wash the feet of his disciples. The man who was supposed to be their king, doing what no other king on earth would do, serving his followers.

When Jesus was done, he asked them, “Do you understand what I have done for you? You call me ‘teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.” (John 13:12-17) Jesus was showing his disciples that if they want to be great in the kingdom of God, they must be willing to be the least. The first thing Jesus wanted his disciples to know before he left this earth was that greatness in the kingdom of God is not how the world sees greatness. In a world that is obsessed with the power that comes with high status, be humble. In a world that is obsessed with being served, be a servant.

Philippians 2:2-5 says, “In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death - even death on a cross!”

As we reflect on our Savior, and remember the sacrifice he made for us, let us also remember the example he set for us: his humility, servanthood, and his obedience. May the words to this song ring true on our hearts until he returns for us:
“Make me a servant, Lord, make me like you.
For you are a servant. Make me one too.
Make me a servant. Do what you must do—to make me a servant.
Make me like you.”

Karisa Madera
Executive Assistant Central Church of Christ
Del Rio, TX