Now we’re at hump day of Holy Week and not much happened on this day according to Mark. This is the day that Judas Iscariot decides to betray Jesus to the chief priests. Yes, the infamous traitor of the twelve – the man who commits suicide after selling out Jesus. But was the money, the 30 pieces of silver, really the motivating factor for betraying Jesus? Or is there more to the story?
The Gospel of Mark gives no clue as to what Judas’ motive might be. Look at Mark 14:10-11: “Then Judas Iscariot, who was one of the twelve, went to the chief priests in order to betray him to them. When they heard it, they were greatly pleased, and promised him money. So he began to look for an opportunity to betray him.” Mark did not say that Judas did it for the money. The chief priests just promised to give him money when he betrayed him. Would Judas have done it without the money?
Matthew, who used Mark’s Gospel as a source document, changed these verses to his liking. Matthew 26:14-16: “Then one of the twelve, who was called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, What will you give me if I betray him to you? They paid him thirty pieces of silver. And from that moment he began to look for an opportunity to betray him.” Matthew’s motive for Judas was money – thirty pieces of silver – to be exact! How interesting!
Luke, who also used Mark’s Gospel as a source document, did not change the writing of Mark’s story (Luke 22:1-5). The Gospel of John only says that Judas betrayed him (John 18:2).
Looks like we have one out of the four Gospel writers who believes that money is the motivator for betraying Jesus. But, wouldn’t Jesus know that prior to selecting him as one of the twelve apostles? And if so, why was he selected? Side note… If you ever read the Gospel of Judas, you’ll see that Judas was actually Jesus’ favorite apostle. But, you’ll have to read the book to see what happens. Drink more coffee and read your Bibles!