In Matthew 22, Jesus explains that our goal should always be to “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” Sometimes there are seasons in our life when that command comes easily, and others when it feels impossible! But most common is for us to love God with only a portion of our heart, soul and mind – and only some of the time.
The two men we will study today were guilty of only wanting a Jesus they could exploit. They wanted their version of Jesus, or they wanted Him gone.
In the series JESUS: HIS LIFE, two episodes are focused on the lenses through which Judas and Caiaphas viewed Him. The former knew Him intimately as one of His disciples, yet ultimately betrayed Him. The latter, as a religious leader and politician, feared Him as a revolutionary. Both were motivated by loving something with their whole heart other than God.
Historians and theologians contend that Judas was motivated by love of money and a misunderstanding of Jesus. His greed was evidenced first in John 12:1-8, when he is outraged at what he sees as waste when a woman pours perfume on Jesus' feet, estimating that it could have been sold for a year's wages. Certainly, money also played a key role in Judas’ ultimate betrayal. He helped the chief priests arrest Jesus in exchange for 30 pieces of silver. But Scripture suggests other motives besides money – Judas always referred to Christ as “Rabbi” but never “Lord,” indicating the disciple acknowledged Him as a teacher, but not the Savior.
Caiaphas, on the other hand, misunderstood Jesus from outside the circle rather than within like Judas. As high priest, the Sadducee was threatened by Jesus’ proclamation that He was the Messiah, that everywhere Jesus went He was followed by thousands of people and that, at this time period in Jerusalem, talk of insurrection was everywhere. The Jewish leader knew a Roman occupation mixed with Jesus was a powder keg waiting to explode.
It is tempting to judge Judas and Caiaphas harshly, and they have rightfully earned their reputations. But we’d be wise to remember that the same sins that led them to betray and to condemn Jesus were rooted in feeling jealous and threatened, feelings that are common to us all today. We are all capable of making Jesus into who we want Him to be rather than who He is. When we put our hope in our money, or define our worth in our power and success, we bring ourselves closer to compromises that deny Jesus His rightful place as the one who makes our life secure.
Lord Jesus, help me to see that You are all I need to live a life of satisfaction and joy. Help me see You for who You really are. When I am tempted to turn to anything else that is a pale imitation of You and Your majesty, lead me back to You and Your ways only, always and forever.