Sunday Jesus enters Jerusalem to shouts of praise. Monday he clears the temple with shouts against injustice. Tuesday the leaders are shouting as they try to stop his teaching and prove heresy. Now it’s Wednesday. No more shouts. On Wednesday there is silence. Except for Judas.
Judas watched the popularity of Jesus soar on Sunday. He personally benefited from this popularity as he cared for the purse and stole from it (Jn. 12:6). Sadly Judas cared little for others demonstrated by his anger over the woman who had anointed Jesus feet on Tuesday night. Judas probably wanted Jesus to be King. But Jesus needed help. He was doing everything wrong.
The crowds loved Jesus and his teaching. If Jesus wouldn’t advance, maybe the crowd needed to be pushed. The other disciples could not see this – but Judas could. Judas saw clearly his path to money through Jesus. That is what the devil does. He blinds us to truth and provides rationalization to our sinful desires. “Then Satan entered Judas, called Iscariot, one of the Twelve.” Lk. 22:3.
Judas went to the chief priests and plotted the betrayal of Jesus. Judas would spy a time to hand Jesus over. This is why the early church referred to the Wednesday of Holy Week as Spy Wednesday. Once arrested and charged falsely, Judas may have believed the people would rise. Then Jesus would have to be King and Judas would be wealthy.
The Bible is silent on the reason for Judas betrayal. His love of money is rooted in what we know, but the rest is speculation. Certainly something didn’t go as Judas thought. When he “saw that Jesus was condemned, he was seized with remorse”. Mt. 27:3. Such remorse that he took his own life. What we do know is that Wednesday marked the rise of the enemy. Satan could see his schemes coming to fruition. He was actively working through the religious and political leaders to bring about the death and destruction of Jesus.
As we see Satan on the move Wednesday, we hear nothing from Jesus. Jesus is silent. Silence is significant.
I have fought injustice for decades. I have witnessed a generation waken to the need to see justice roll like mighty waters, only to flee when the waters rise to their neck. Persevering in the work of justice requires times of silence. Jesus often went away to a solitary place to pray. Facing his greatest challenge, knowing the importance of his final time with the disciples celebrating Passover, I think Jesus pulled away in prayer. The Bible doesn’t say this, but it certainly is in keeping with Jesus character.
Today we need people who persevere in silence. The world is noisy. Injustice is messy. But if we want to be the hero in rescuing people or changing circumstances then may I suggest we find ourselves more in alignment with Judas than Jesus. We can do good work but if that work is rooted in advancing our name, our image, or in what the service does for us, then such work will not last. Work that last is rooted solely in Jesus. All to His glory. None to your own. And the only way to know the difference is to pull away and get alone with God. Are you advancing His kingdom through the gospel or are you advancing your own kingdom agenda?
While I don’t know what Jesus did on Wednesday, I think I see an extension of it on Thursday night in the Garden of Gethsemane. There Jesus agonized over the path before him, but never wavered in the profound truth – “Not my will, but your will be done.” Mt. 26:39.
Whatever you are facing this week take a moment for silence. Step back and check your heart to be certain that it is not your will that is advancing, but God’s will.
On Spy Wednesday let’s not take the path of Judas. Rather may our prayer be that which Jesus taught us: “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” Mt. 6:10.