Editor’s Note: The AMI QT devotionals from Jan. 1-15 are provided by Pastor Ryun Chang (Ph.D.) who is the AMI Teaching Pastor. He and Insil have been married for 28+ years and they have three children: Christy (teacher), Joshua (grad student) and Justin (college freshman). They live in Philadelphia.
Devotional Thoughts for Today
In those days Peter stood up among the believers (a group numbering about a hundred and twenty) 16 and said, “Brothers and sisters, the Scripture had to be fulfilled in which the Holy Spirit spoke long ago through David concerning Judas, who served as guide for those who arrested Jesus. 17 He was one of our number and shared in our ministry.”
Matt. 26:14-6: Then one of the Twelve—the one called Judas Iscariot—went to the chief priests 15 and asked, “What are you willing to give me if I deliver him over to you?” So they counted out for him thirty pieces of silver. 16 From then on Judas watched for an opportunity to hand him over.
The TV show 48 Hours deals with murders involving middle-class Americans who have good jobs and live in nice houses. Viewing just a few episodes is all it would take to notice two repetitive themes regarding whodunit and why. As to who, likely your spouse; as to why, money! In one episode, a young professional with an M.B.A. kills his beautiful wife, even shooting himself 4 times to make the police believe that it was a robbery gone bad. But once the police discovered the $2 million life insurance on the wife, they had the motive to go with his inconsistent testimony.
So, why did Judas really betray Jesus? Some say that Judas the revolutionary hoped that Jesus would use his incredible power to drive out the Romans from the Holy Land. How disappointed Judas must have been when “Jesus, knowing that [the Jews] intended to . . . make him king by force, withdrew . . . to a mountain” (Jn. 6:15). So, the frustrated Judas tried to force Jesus’ hand by getting him to react so that it would begin a chain reaction to overthrow the Romans.
The Bible, however, gives a simpler reason why Judas “served as guide for those who arrested Jesus”: greed. After all, Judas said to Jesus’ enemy, “What are you willing to give me if I deliver him over to you.” By all account, “thirty pieces of silver” was a large sum of money then (as much as $15,000 today). An older John, recalling the events that occurred some 50 years earlier, wrote, “. . . [Judas] was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it” (Jn. 12:6). In other words, betraying Jesus for a small fortune was too good of an opportunity for this small-time thief to pass up.
One Korean proverb says, “A needle robber will become a cow robber.” The story of Judas, as well as many episodes of 48 Hours, is a powerful reminder to cut the cord to our greed before it begins to control us. Some suggestions: first, don’t take what’s not yours; second, be generous; and third, tithe, which is one effective way to rein in your appetite for more.
Father, I’m so amazed by how Your Son Christ dealt with Judas until the very end. It encourages me to no end, seeing that Christ loved his betrayer, even calling him friend. I know that You have done the same for me. So help me to be more generous toward your work. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: Genesis 8
Lunch Break Study
Read John 12:3-6: 3 Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. 4 But one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray him, objected, 5 “Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages.” 6 He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it.
1 Tim. 6:10: For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.
James 1:14-5: but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. 15 Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.
Question to Consider
- What is a root of all kinds of evil: money or the love of money? Why is this distinction important?
- How does greed work? How does a needle robber grow to be someone who steals cows?
- Recently, God laid on my heart to send a check to someone to encourage that person; but I hesitated. Then a close relative sent me a check as a gift and that amount was larger than what I planned to give. What would you do in that situation and why?
- Money itself is not the root of all evil but the love of money is. It is an important distinction because there is nothing wrong with trying to make money as long as it is done ethnically and without neglecting important responsibilities of life. Without money we cannot pay our bills, buy needed things, or support missionaries. But when we love it, we hoard it, becoming stingy and preoccupied with making more, which means little or no time for other things like doing God’s work.
- The component to greed that can turn into a lethal weapon is the feeling that no matter how much you have, you always feel like you don’t have enough. That feeling, given time, grows to become a force of its own and motivation behind all kinds of evil, such as impulsive investments, cutthroat business practices, and according to 48 Hours, even murder.
- I sent out the check right away after receiving the gift from my relative. The reason: “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). A lesson learned: what God gives you is more than what you give back to Him or others in need (Mal. 3:6-12).
Since we aren’t living in an Islamic or communist state, we aren’t likely to face a situation where we have to choose between death or denying Jesus; but instead, our denial of Jesus is more subtle. Perhaps only you and God know what really happened. What are these ways? Did it happen today? What makes us such weak witnesses? How can we be more bold and authentic witnesses for God? Reflect. Pray. Change.