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?” Matthew 26:14-15
We are never told Judas’ motives to betray Jesus but both Matthew and Mark place Judas’ decision immediately after Mary anointed Jesus. Furthermore, John indicates it was Judas who said, “Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages” (John 12:5). John emphasises that this was the same Judas who betrayed Jesus. John also explained that it wasn’t because Judas cared about the poor that he had complained about Mary anointing Jesus but because he was a thief (John 12:6).
So it seems that Judas took offence at Mary anointing Jesus, but why?
Jesus wasn’t the leader the Jews or Judas expected. He spent time talking to women, children and Gentiles. He showed compassion. He preached about love and forgiveness. In Judas’ mind, none of these activities were worthy of a king. After he fed the crowds the people wanted to make Jesus a king, but he slipped away (John 6:14-15). Judas must have wondered, “When will Jesus ever begin acting like a king?” Judas didn’t understand the true nature of God’s kingdom.
Perhaps Judas tried to force Jesus’ hand. Perhaps he thought, “If Jesus is arrested he will have to defend himself and this will lead to the establishment of the kingdom.” But when he is arrested Jesus doesn’t even fight. In the end, Judas realizes he was wrong, but he doesn’t ask for forgiveness. He never understood God’s mercy, grace, or love.
May we never be like Judas, but rather accept God’s ways and his timetable. He is indeed a gracious and loving God.