The Defector – Matthew 26

The town was in a festive mood as the Passover festival had drawn Jews from all over the region to Jerusalem. The chief priests and the elders were assembling in the palace of the high priest, Caiaphas and were trying to figure out the best way to dispose of Jesus. They were looking for a way to secretly kill Jesus without riling up His followers. When they were perplexed and could not find a way to dispose of with the Jesus problem, satan presented them with an opportunity that they quickly grabbed on to. Judas Iscariot, one of Jesus’ chosen twelve was ready to help the Jewish leaders get rid of the Jesus problem.

Jesus Anointed at Bethany

Whenever Jesus would visit Jerusalem, He would reside at one of His friend’s place in the nearby village of Bethany. During this last visit when He was staying at the house of Simon the Leper, a woman came to him and showered Him with expensive alabaster perfume. But Judas was indignant as he was in charge of the money bag and wondered why such waste.

“This perfume could have been sold at a high price and the money given to the poor.”

Matthew 26:9

John, in his gospel lets us know that it was Judas who raised the objection as he would help himself out of the money bag. We are blinded by the feeling of self-righteousness which is given to us by satan. God is the only one who can make us righteous but satan fools us into thinking that we don’t need God to attain righteousness. This false sense of self-righteousness keeps us in a vacuum where we are not able to see our faults but are quick to judge others outside our bubble. Jesus replied to Judas and others who were wondering the same,

When she poured this perfume on my body, she did it to prepare me for burial.

Matthew 26:12

Usually the dead bodies are perfumed on the second day after one’s death. Given that Jews do not want to break Passover and that on the third day Jesus would no longer be a resident of His tomb, He lauded the actions of the women to pour out her most expensive perfume on the live body of Jesus. Again the woman herself would not have known about the significance of what she had done but the Spirit of the Lord had guided her to do the same.

Usually when we are confronted by someone on something that we are doing wrong, there are two ways we react. One is by accepting our mistake and the second is by refuting their claims. Sometimes our grasp of reality is so shaken by our continuous self-corrupting activities and we refute something that we very well know to be true. We are taken over by satan to do his work and we have given our sense of judgment over to him as we see no wrong in what we are doing. The condemnation from Jesus was enough for Judas to act on his inclination and give into satan’s temptation. He immediately went to the chief priests and asked for their offering price for the capture of Jesus.

“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.

Matthew 26:15-16

The Last Supper

When the festival of the unleavened bread was around the corner, Jesus gave very specific instructions to His disciples regarding the preparations for the Passover meal. The disciples followed the instructions and found everything just as their Teacher had told them.

When evening came, Jesus was reclining at the table with the Twelve. And while they were eating, he said, “Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me.”

Matthew 26:20-21

The plan for the redemption of the world had to come true through Jesus’ death on the cross. Jesus came to this world ready to die for our sins but as we keep reading about the disciples, it seems obvious that they did not understand or wanted to know what Jesus meant when He spoke about His death. They were more interested in the destruction of the temple or who gets to sit on either side of Jesus’ throne. The capture of Jesus came as huge shock to them. Only when the Spirit started residing in them did they understand all that Jesus had told them. Telling them about Judas Iscariot would have served no purpose as they still had not understood the very purpose of Jesus coming to the earth. Judas was deceived to such an extent that he boldly, with a straight face asked Jesus saying,

Then Judas, the one who would betray him, said, “Surely you don’t mean me, Rabbi?”
Jesus answered, “You have said so.”

Matthew 26:25

While they were still eating, Jesus took the bread and the cup of wine and blessed it and gave it to His disciples. That night he made new covenant with them as He had become the new Passover lamb that took the guilt of the entire world on Him. The bread and the wine, a staple in the first century middle-eastern diet, would serve as a reminder to the disciples everyday, of the body and blood of Jesus that was broken and shed for all our sins.

When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.

Matthew 26:30

Discussion Questions

  • Judas was not able to see the irony in his objection given his own stealing habit. What makes us turn a blind eye to the guilt within us but quick to find fault with what others do?
  • Why would someone anoint Jesus with expensive alabaster perfume?
  • Why did Judas suddenly leave to meet the chief priests?
  • Why did Jesus not tell the others about the defector?
  • What was the significance of Jesus sharing blessing and giving the bread and the wine to the disciples?

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