Judas Iscariot walked back after his Master just healed over 40 people. He knew because he had counted. Some of them, wealthy believers who he had assumed, just wanted the healing without the lesson had tried to donate money, animals, or even land.
Jesus refused each time.
The shrinking money bag and the declining goodwill favors of neighbors weren’t going to last forever…and they knew it. Everyone knew it. Everyone felt it.
It had to happen. Either all of the known world was going to follow this miracle-worker from Galilee or something bad was going to happen. Jesus could not keep arguing and making the priests, Romans, and really anyone else that came his way look like the fool.
He had to act.
That’s when the first thought came into his head:
What if I pushed the Messiah to act? What if I put the Teacher in a situation where He had to destroy Rome and bring glory back to Israel? What if….?
His thinking returned to the present. Jesus was talking to a few women and children. They were poor women and children with barely enough to eat. Fools, Judas thought. Pathetic fools that were probably asking for bread while their fat Roman masters were drowning in food, luxurious clothes, and the power to go anywhere in the world and get whatever they wanted. On top of that, they had money. Not the paltry little coins that Judas and the rest of the Twelve (or the others) had, but REAL MONEY.
Judas thought again about why he joined with Jesus in the first place. He was a bookkeeper’s assistant or rather a slave, to a fat tax collector who was traitor to his people and had all of the richness to prove it. From that bookkeeper, he learned how to count, add, and how to hide money in plain sight. He recalled that day he was walking out after a particularly nasty argument with his former master about the money that he didn’t extort from a poor family when he saw Him.
Jesus was walking back from a nearby tax collector’s home, after having defeated the stupid Pharisees that were bold and envious enough to say some. When Judas looked into His eyes, he saw…. Well, he couldn’t explain it. He saw everything. He saw pity, joy, anger, frustration, and love. Everything…but fear. He never saw a man like that. No matter how bold a man pretended to be, Judas knew, there was always something that could easily break him: Money, Women, Status, Reputation. In fact, Judas leveraged that fact to gain those very things (money, women, status, power, etc.)
Yet, when he looked into Jesus’ eyes, he saw none of that.
That is what drew Judas to Him. There was no guile, none of that hidden evil underbelly that he saw with other men.
That is why he followed Him. At first, he would visit whenever He or His disciples came around. Then, he couldn’t stop himself. The more he listened, the more he wanted to listen. Then came the day that Judas went back to his former master and teacher for the last time. He had enough of this world and would follow The Teacher who would transform Israel, then conquer the world. He would fix all of the wrongs, Judas and his people felt under the ever-intrusive noses of those fat Romans. The Teacher would fix it.
But as Judas looked at the Teacher and his paltry (sometimes rowdy group) of disciples, another thought came to his head:
What if it’s all a lie?
At that moment, Jesus looked up from his conversation with the women and children and directly at Judas.