Sandwiched between Mark’s account of Jesus being anointed in Bethany (Mark 14:3-9) and his retelling of the Last Supper (Mark 14:12-31) we hear about Judas deciding to betray Jesus (Mark 14:10-11). He goes to the Chief Priests and offers his services. They are delighted to welcome him on board and offer to pay him.
The contrast is stark. Here is a woman obviously moved by gratitude to Christ’s compassion. She acts in the shadow of the Cross. She is moved to an extravagant expression of worship.
Judas on the other hand is moved to betrayal. Judas had been a fellow traveller with Jesus and the disciples. He was in that group who were able to hear Jesus explain the parable of the shower, not all seed down makes it to a fruitful harvest. He watched Jesus heal the sick, raise Lazarus, give Bartimaeus his sight. He was there when Zacchaeus was moved by his meeting with Jesus to give up much of his wealth, when a poor widow gave everything and when a risk young man went away sad because he had great wealth and could not give it up to follow Jesus. Judas had travelled with Jesus and had gone out with the 12 on mission.
However, the decision recorded here shows that he was no more than a fellow traveller, only for as long as it suited his agenda. Jesus’ refusal to accept pious hypocrisy about the poor showed that Judas would not prevail in his agenda. It was here, in the shadow of the Cross, with Good Friday on the horizon that Judas decided to go his own way, to great cost.
It is in the shadow of the Cross that our character, identity and purpose are crystallised. Are we genuinely with Jesus or merely keeping company with believers for as long as it suits our agenda. We might appear to be part of the church for 1, 5, 10, 20 years or more but if we are simply using the gospel for our own agendas a day will come when we will part company. The truth will come into the light. But if we have truly given our lives into his care then we can cling to his cross knowing that he will never leave us or forsake us.