My family and I have watched the story of Jesus from the Read and Share Bible series a few times. I absolutely love the movie. It was so refreshing and the colors were bright–really tailored for kids.
The character that stood out for me in this story was Judas. When we first saw Judas he was hurrying along the road, with Peter calling him and carrying the money bag. He was stopped by a man and a little boy. The little boy wanted to make a donation because of what Jesus had done for him. Judas eagerly opened the bag and the little boy dropped the coin in. Judas promised to pass along his message of thanks to Jesus and hurried off.
We saw Judas have supper with Peter, his family and Jesus after Jesus healed Peter’s mother-in-law. The next time we saw Judas he was standing aside watching Jesus as He taught a crowd. A pharisee approached the disciple and started asking questions about Jesus. Then the Pharisee said, “This is for you.” Immediately, Judas opened the money bag.
The Pharisee took out a coin and it seemed as if he were going to drop it in the money bag but then he dropped it in Judas’ pocket. He left and we know that there would be future meetings. Judas stands there looking down at his pocket, startled. However, he doesn’t take the coin out of his pocket and put it in the money bag. What Judas should have done was take the coin out of his pocket and put in the money bag. He didn’t. This was the beginnings of his dealings with the religious leaders which would ultimately lead to his betrayal of Jesus.
The next time the Pharisee has a word with Judas it is when Jesus is blessing the children. This time when the Pharisee has the coin, we see Judas’ hand reach out and take it. It seems as if taking bribes has become easy for him. The Pharisee warns him that things could get dangerous for him and the disciples before he walks away. Judas is startled, wondering what he meant by that. Jesus watches him and Judas catches him watching him and he looks both guilty and sheepish. Jesus’ eyes move past him and spots the retreating figure of the Pharisee. He looks sad.
It is interesting how initially Judas was taken aback when the Pharisee gave him money for himself instead of for the ministry but it seemed that after a while he no longer had any qualms about accepting the money. In the Bible we learn that he was a thief who helped himself to the money. In this movie he was singled out and his weakness or love for money caused him to compromise himself and easy for the devil to tempt him.
When Jesus stomped the religious leaders with his question about how David could be the Messiah’s father when he addressed Him as Lord, I watched Judas’ face. He wasn’t happy that Jesus had gotten the better of them. The Pharisee whom he had dealings with was among the men.
Jesus knew that Judas was going to betray him. He told Judas to go and do what he was to do quickly. In this animated movie, Judas became angry, he jumped to his face, threw the bread back on the plate and stormed out. The disciples didn’t seem to notice. One of them asked him to bring back some raisin cakes for them. As I watched Judas march down the stairs, shoving the servant out of the way and tossing the napkin on the ground, I wondered why he was so angry. If anyone had a right to be angry, it was Jesus. He was the One who was about to be betrayed. I always wondered how Judas could betray the One who helped, healed and taught so many people. How he could betray the One who got down on his knees and watching twelve pairs of dirty feet? And I find it curious that it is when he took the bread Jesus gave him that Satan entered him.
Judas went to the religious leaders and took them to where Jesus was. He witnessed when Jesus asked the soldiers whom they were seeking and they said His name and how they fell back when He asked “I AM He.” That was the name Jesus had used to identify Himself to Moses at the burning bush. He saw Jesus heal the servant’s ear whom Peter had struck. He saw Jesus ask the soldiers to take Him and to let the others go. He saw the other disciples desert Jesus. When Judas dropped the money bag, Jesus picked it up and gave it to him. He looked ashamed. He had every reason to be ashamed. He had stolen from the bag and he had betrayed his Master for thirty pieces of silver.
In his gospel, Matthew writes that Judas is remorseful when he saw that Jesus was condemned. He brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, saying, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.” And they said, “What [is that] to us? You see [to it]!” They remind me of the Devil who tempts people and encourages them to sin and when they do, he hangs them out to dry. In despair Judas threw down the pieces of silver in the temple, left there and went and hanged himself (Matthew 27:3-5).
What a tragic end for someone who had been with Jesus for three and a half years. He had allowed greed and his love for money to get the best of him.