Then He said to them, “With fervent desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; 16 for I say to you, I will no longer eat of it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” Luke 22:15-16 (You might as well read the whole story--Luke 22:7-23)
(continued from yesterday)
Judas quietly left the gathering of people at the house of Lazarus in Bethany. They'd never miss him. It looked like the whole town had come to see Jesus--and probably several from Bethphage and even Jerusalem. Yet His popularity had drastically changed since that incident in the temple with all the merchants. Those who lost some of their income from that day had ceased to think highly of the Lord. What was He thinking? That parade into town was a triumph and brilliantly staged, but then He'd ruined the whole effect when He flogged the merchants and set their flocks and herds free in the temple.
Judas still seethed. None of the other followers guessed his anger; he'd hidden it well. Not that any of the disciples usually sought him out. Of all of them, he was the one left out of discussions. Why? He was as good as any of them. Well, this action he was about to take would show them. It would show them all.
He marched determinedly into the temple, seeking out one of the priests, who would take him to the Chief priest. It wasn't hard to find one, and it wasn't long before he stood before both Annas and Caiaphas as well as several other members of the Sanhedrin.
He bowed his head low. "Holy ones, I have brought some information you might want."
Caiaphas stared at Judas until he felt like an errant child brought before his elders.
"You are one of that Jesus's chosen twelve, are you not?"
"Yes, lord. You..."
"What could you possibly tell us that we don't already know about this rabble rouser?"
Judas squirmed, at least inside his belly. "I have heard that you want to arrest Him."
"What of it?"
"I-I can lead to Him where He won't be surrounded by the throngs of people."
"Hmph. And where would that be?"
"I know where He will eat the Passover meal, and I know where He often goes to pray in the evenings."
Judas's stomach clenched. "How much would you pay me?"
Annas laughed. "The price of a man for slavery would be thirty pieces of silver. No more than that."
"That would be acceptable. I will come to you this evening after the Passover supper. I can lead you to Him."
The Chief Priests met each other's eyes, then they both stared at Judas.
Caiaphas nodded. "We'll be waiting."
Later, he could scarcely force the bites of lamb down his throat. Jesus had washed Judas's feet, fed him the sopped bread, and given him the wine. And now he would betray his Master. But it was for good reason. The world would soon see. He hoped. What if his plan didn't work? But surely it would. His reasoning was flawless.
Finally, Jesus turned to him, and spoke with a voice and eyes filled with...what? Sorrow? Compassion? "That which you must do, do quickly."
How did He know?
Judas scurried out the door and hurried down the stairs, running to the temple. The crowd of people had thinned to a bare two or three, those mostly beggars.
Breathless, Judas now stood before the two chief priests and several soldiers. "I can lead you to Him now."
The procession was slow, too slow. Jesus wouldn't be in the upper room any more. By now He'd be in the garden. It was nearing the sixth watch by the time they reached the mount of olives. As he thought, Judas found Him in the clearing, kneeling in prayer. Jesus glanced up and stood.
Even though the night was cool, Judas's face and armpits dripped with sweat. It even ran down his back like a column of ants to food. He pasted a smile on his face and approached Jesus as though to give Him a kiss of greeting.
Jesus shook His head slowly. "Is it with a kiss you betray me, Judas?"