Spy Wednesday: When a Duck is not a Duck

Today is Holy Wednesday, or Spy Wednesday in older traditions. This is of course a reference to Judas Iscariot, who makes his deal with the scribes and elders to turn Jesus over for 30 pieces of silver.

It is also the day when Mary, sister of Martha and Lazarus, anointed Jesus with expensive oil, prompting the disciples to question whether the oil could have been sold to feed the poor. John is the only Gospel that names Judas as the one who asks the question (12:5), and also notes that Judas asks not out of real concern, but because he carried the purse for the Apostles and embezzled from it.

Jesus knew Judas’ game from the get-go. John 6 tells us that Jesus knew there was a betrayer among the 12, and who it was. He was not fooled by Judas’ display of “concern”.

But here’s an interesting piece to add–In Matthew’s version of the anointing in Bethany, he tells us “When thedisciples saw this (the anointing) they grew indignant, protesting: What is the point of such extravagance? This could have been sold for a good price and the money given to the poor” (8-9). Mark says “There were some who were indignant. “Why has there been this waste of perfumed oil?  It could have been sold for more than three hundred days’ wages and the money given to the poor” (14:4-5). Seems odd that the disciples–as opposed to the Apostles, the Twelve–would have ever questioned Jesus in his presence. Unless–they were led by one of the Apostles. Judas, sowing seeds of discord.

Theologians have spent centuries debating Judas’ role in what happened to Jesus. Their opinions are widely available. But I always see Judas as a cautionary tale about whom we trust with authority, because Judas looked like a duck, walked like a duck and quacked like a duck for three years before he betrayed Jesus–but he was not a duck.

How disheartened Jesus must have been, so near to his death, to know that his followers still had not heard him. To know they could be so easily turned by one with bad intentions.

We too have been turned, at some point and place. We have allowed a Judas to harden our hearts, instead of reaching for patience and surrender and trust.

So today–in preparation for the days to come–let’s pray about the ways our hearts are hard, and how they got that way. Who is Judas in our life? And how can we limit our exposure to those who sow seeds of discord?

Tomorrow: Guest Vlog by Denell Woller of Coffee As You Are on Surrender, the first step on Jesus’ walk to our Salvation.

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