Holy Wednesday is often called Spy Wednesday.

Spy Wednesday sounds like a cool name with more going on than simply Holy Wednesday.

Holy Wednesday is given the “Spy” to remind us of the horrible conspiracy that began on this day:  Judas Iscariot and the high priests negotiated a deal in which Judas would betray Christ Jesus, who would then be brought before the Sanhedrin Court, an assembly of rabbis.

That means SPY Wednesday is not cool.

A Bit on Rabbis

The following comes from Rabbi Gil Student, the founder / publisher / editor-in-chief of the website Torah Musings.  Here, he presents the accepted use of the word “rabbi”:

The biblical source for the obligation to respect Torah scholars is in last week’s Torah portion: “Rise before the aged and honor an elder” (Lev. 19:32). The Talmud (Kiddushin 32b) understands “elder” in this verse to refer to a Torah scholar. There are four types of Torah scholars for whom you must show respect: your mentor(s) (rebbe muvhak), world-class Torah scholars (gedolei ha-dor), someone who taught you a little Torah and regular Torah scholars who have not taught you anything. (May 8, 2012) ~ Click here to read Rabbi Student’s musings on rabbis.

First, the Torah is composed of the five books of Moses:  Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy (the Pentateuch).

Second, in following this rabbi’s definition, a rabbi is a Torah scholar who serves as a mentor.  Mentors advise and counsel and train through building trust and modeling positive behaviors.

Someone who knows a little Torah and someone who knows as much as you do would not be considered a mentor.

Third, the assembly of rabbis who make up the Sanhedrin Court would have been community mentors who understood the Torah.

This is the Court that wanted to try Jesus for blasphemy:  community mentors who should have had discernment but were blinded by their own earthly interests.

Under Roman authority, any Jewish court could not execute a person:  this is the reason Pontius Pilate became involved.

Rome would not convict Jesus for blasphemy against the Jewish god;  Rome would only convict for treason against the Rome government.

The Sanhedrin Court, then, would need to lie to force the Romans to put him to death.

Judas Wanted More?

30 pieces of silver.  Doesn’t really sound like a lot of money, does it?

Quora tells me that 30 pieces of silver, at the time of the betrayal in 32 A.D., was the equivalent of five work-weeks made up of 6 days.  5 x 6 = 30 days of work for 30 pieces of silver.

A week’s wage, one site says.  The equivalent of $600.00, another claims.  $3,000.00 in today’s value, someone else writes.  The price of a slave.  About 50 bucks.

Another website claims that it was 30 pounds of silver.

I wonder how long Judas and the high priests haggled over that price.

A single online search will reveal how much haggling is still going on over the value of 30 pieces of silver—as if the money is the major point.


The major point is that one of Jesus’ followers, one of the inner circle of 12, decided that he would rather have money than continue following a man whose every word was radical.

Do any of those amounts really matter?

Judas got angry enough to walk out and become the linchpin of a conspiracy to trap Jesus and bring him down.  Jesus was making it too uncomfortable for the people in power.

The two sides of the conspiracy negotiated a price.  And Judas left to fulfill his side of the bargain.  He wasn’t paid until he played his part.  Once that was done, he got his money.

More on Judas Iscariot

Judas Receiving the 30 Pieces of Silver by Mattia Preti, 1640

What motivated Judas in his betrayal?

  • Did Judas want more money?
  • Or did he want more from Jesus?
  • Did Judas join with Jesus because he thought Jesus was the true Messiah?
  • Or did he join because he thought Jesus would lead a revolution against the Romans?
  • Was Judas intending Jesus to die?
  • Or was he intending to shock Jesus into behaving the way a Rabbi / master teacher should behave?
  • Did the Sanhedrin Court lie to Judas, letting him think Jesus would not be turned over to the Roman authorities?
  • Or did he truly believe Jesus was a blasphemer who needed to die?
  • Was he a willing participant in their lie to the Roman gov’t?
  • Or was he merely their dupe?

Does it matter?

When Judas realizes what he’s caused, he attempts to return the money.

This more than implies that he didn’t want Jesus to die.  Maybe he thought that, while the Sanhedrin Court would convict Jesus of blasphemy, the Romans wouldn’t involve themselves, and Jesus would remain alive.

However ~

Most people go into things without considering all of the consequences.  Very few people intend the bad consequences of their actions.  They consider what they want and what they will get;  they don’t consider the possible negative results and the damage to others.

I’ve seen the above often.

Once people start the ball rolling, they really can’t control where or how fast or how far it will roll.

More Means Less

Whichever answer fits for Judas, when he realizes that he has caused a man’s death, when he fills the weight of his guilt so much heavier than the 30 pieces of silver, he commits suicide.

His suicide causes some to pity him.  After all, they claim, he didn’t intend Jesus to die.  He just wanted to stop Him.

Others argue back that none of the other disciples liked Judas.  Because of some trickiness with the money, he was mistrusted (John 12:6).  An outcast among the others.

Being an outcast makes it easy to go against the group. (Consider the destruction by the outcasts who shoot up schools where they are ostracized and bullied by the various cliques.)

Maybe Judas was a plant of the high priests from the beginning of his time with the Christ.  A spy among the disciples, reporting to the high priests.

Whatever the answer is, his three years with Jesus boils down to thirty pieces of silver.  10 pieces per year.

When More is not More

Money so often stands between believers and their attempt to wholly follow God.

Image result for 30 pieces of silver wiki commons
from Saint James the Greater Catholic Church in Concord, NC

We need money.  We never have as much as we want.  And we always want more.

Modern society is driven to accumulate more in material goods, and money is the only means to accomplish this.

If a genie gave us three wishes, money would definitely be one of them.

We dream of winning the mega-billion dollar lottery.  “Look how much I can accomplish for God,” we say, even as we dream of lake houses and yachts and those trips to Scotland and New Zealand.

More money only means we have more concerns about the money, not fewer concerns.

We need to stop haggling about the money we want and become better stewards of the money and resources we have been given by God.

More, More, More

Good stewards of the money that God has given us means that we are fulfilling God’s will. (The Parable of the Talents: Matthew 25:14-30)

Christ never said we should be poor.  He did say that it’s difficult for rich men to enter Heaven:  “Truly I tell you, it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” (Matthew 19:24)

Then he added, “With God all things are possible.”  (Matthew 19:26)

I like Christ’s sly addition.

Continue with me as I work through my devotionals for Holy Week and Easter Week.  I began with Palm Sunday and will end with Bright Saturday.

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