The economics of Judas’ betrayal

The economics of Judas’ betrayal By Jerry Bowyer, Contributor for Christian Post

Many of you probably remember hearing the story of how Mary of Bethany anointed the feet of Jesus with perfume and how Judas objected to it. The account appears in John 12.

What you probably did not hear was an explication of the important economic themes in that passage. Preachers tend to underestimate the importance of economic themes in the Bible. Few have training in finance or economics, and a mental block was formed earlier in Church history when theologians began to mix biblical theology with pagan philosophy, which tended to be contemptuous of commerce.

But the Bible is about real life, and real life involves economics. Your work, your spending, and your decision to read (or not read) this article are economic in nature.

Now is your chance to support Gospel News Network.

We love helping others and believe that’s one of the reasons we are chosen as Ambassadors of the Kingdom, to serve God’s children. We look to the Greatest Commandment as our Powering force.

Personal Info

Donation Total: $100.00

Some Christians, given to displays of pious one-upmanship, are quick to decry any biblical discussion about economics. But all that does is insulate the economic aspect of life from Christ’s lordship. The most ostentatiously “spiritual” are still buying and selling like the rest of us; they just don’t want Jesus to talk about it. However, He does.

Mary uses an expensive jar of nard, a spice imported from the East, which we are told is worth 300 denarii, amounting to almost a year’s wages. Judas raises an objection to the expense, and the Bible alludes to the fact that he will later hand Jesus over, which we know he did for money.

If Judas’ 30 pieces of silver refer to the same coinage Judas claims the gift of perfume is worth (which is quite plausible given that denarii were silver), then Judas betrayed Jesus for a mere tenth (a tithe) of the amount Mary gave to Jesus to honor Him. Judas’ betrayal of Jesus came cheap.

On the other hand, it is possible that the temple elite paid him in Tyrian shekels, which were worth about 120 denarii, but even that is still less than half of Mary’s offering. Her sacrifice to the glory of Christ is more than Judas’ reward for betraying Him.

All this detail about money is there in the Bible, plain to see, even if some expositors and preachers have grown used to skimming over these details as though such things are insufficiently spiritual to warrant attention.

Judas opposed this extravagant use of expensive perfume, claiming that he did so out of concern for the poor. The Bible makes clear that he didn’t care about the poor but was a thief who embezzled from the common purse, which he held on behalf of the disciples. In this, Judas is a perfect stand-in for the Judean elite with which he is aligned.

Continue Reading / Christian Post >>>

Related posts