My plan was flawless. Nobody could see it but me. Why was I the only one who saw opportunities like this? I really hated being surrounded by people so shortsighted. But I was willing to play the game if it would put me in good standing when we overthrew the Romans. Finally, a Jewish kingdom ruled by a Jew. No more paying taxes to a Gentile emperor. That was the dream I was working for. That’s what he talked about all the time. The kingdom of heaven when he would rule Israel and throw off our oppressors. He wouldn’t shut up about his kingdom. I didn’t get all the cryptic stories he kept telling about what the kingdom of heaven was like, but it was pretty clear to me that we were gearing up for a coup. I couldn’t wait. Literally.
Right at the beginning of this whole thing, the one thing Simon and I agreed on was that the Romans had to go. He and I had stayed up late together making plans. We knew the whole frickin’ country; Jesus had traipsed us up and down the terrain. Take Jerusalem back, and we’d be golden.
I was tired of scrimping and scraping to get by. If we were going to overthrow the Romans, we were going to need some serious cash. The favorites would go fishing from time to time and they’d bring back a few coins. Sometimes people would make donations. What really pissed me off was how much he was willing to accept from the heathens. That centurion’s money burned in my heart. How could we possibly accept “assistance” from our tax-hungry occupiers? It still irks me today. And that Samaritan woman that he “forgave”? What’s the deal with that? She couldn’t even donate a days’ wages but she got “eternal life.” Lucky to be her. Sucks to be us.
We had a budget in mind. We knew which officials we would need to buy. We knew at least 10% of the people would join us; they hated taxes as much as we did. We needed to be able to pay them and supply them. Peter and I figured out we would need about half a years’ salary for the initial wave. When that succeeded, people would pour out resources like water. We’d be flush, and the resistance would be in full force. We could be free.
Then, out of the blue, Simon turned on me. He didn’t think Jesus was talking about overthrowing the Romans. Seriously?!?!? WTF, Simon (oh, sorry, I guess I mean Peter)? Yeah, Rock, as in Rocks-for-brains. I’m not usually mean like that, but I felt like Simon turned his back on me. We had plans. We had good plans. And he stopped caring. I felt hurt. I felt betrayed.
It didn’t matter. I had to carry on. If I had to bring about this kingdom all by myself, I would. Money had always been the biggest block. Where could I get my hands on that much money? I started thinking about what assets we had. We had a bunch of fishermen, but they’d stopped fishing. Even if they stayed at it, it would take years for us to save up that much disposable income. It would be hard to hide, too. It would draw attention. We had a tax collector among us, but he refused to make people involuntarily contribute to their own freedom. He called it a breach of ethics. Again, I hated being surrounded by idiots. They just could NOT see the big picture.
Then there was a glimmer of hope. We were in Bethany sitting down to a meal among the usual riffraff. This woman walked in with an alabaster bottle. Everyone in the room knew what was in it. Everyone knew how much it was worth. Everyone there saw a bottle of perfume. I saw freedom. But Jesus didn’t stop her. Simon didn’t stop her. NOBODY STOPPED HER!! I guess they were as shocked as I was; I don’t know. Before I came to my senses, it was over. She’d broken the bottle and poured it on Jesus. To the idiots’ credit, at least this time I wasn’t the only one who saw the missed opportunity. One of the other guys mentioned the waste, and Jesus said something about her preparing him for burial. I didn’t know what he meant, but I figured it was one of his stupid analogies again, probably about sleeping that night or something.
So, back to assets. We didn’t have any. We had the clothes on our backs. I guess we could take out loans, but that would draw attention. Plus, “the clothes on our backs” isn’t great collateral. Then it hit me in the middle of the night. I woke up with a start covered in sweat. I had the answer, and it made me sick. Seriously, I went and threw up. We had Jesus. He was our most valuable asset. And he was valuable.
I tried to think of another way. I racked my brain, but this was the answer. It was risky, but, after the initial shock, it started looking better and better as time passed. Jesus hadn’t done anything. He had broken no real laws. He hadn’t hurt anyone or incited any kind of riots. The only thing he’d done was that he had cheesed off the temple leaders. They hated him. They couldn’t stand the thought of someone having more power than them. I knew they were plotting Jesus’ demise, but they didn’t have an in. That was the linchpin of my plan.
There was no way Jesus would be convicted of anything. He hadn’t done anything illegal. He hadn’t broken any laws. No way would a conviction stick. The temple leaders would complain and gripe, but the Romans had to acquit. There was no evidence against him. All I had to do was work out a deal with the temple leaders, collect the cash, and Jesus would be acquitted at trial. When he got back to us, he’d be greeted with an amount of money sufficient to start the establishment of his kingdom. Whom would he have to acknowledge as the provider of said cash? That’s right; your truly. They’d finally see my value. They’d finally see my genius. Finally, some appreciation for all my work and sacrifice. Plus, this wouldn’t draw any attention. This was a once-and-done transaction.
I’d looked at it from every angle. There were no leaks. This was the only way I could see, and it looked pretty good. I didn’t love the risk, but it was small and well worth the payoff. So I did it. I went to the temple leaders and negotiated the exchange: Jesus for half a years’ salary. I wanted more, but they wouldn’t do it. Oh well. I figured they’d cough it up once they saw what we could accomplish.
Then it all happened. We celebrated Passover, and Jesus called me out. What? How did he know? He must have found some of my notes. I thought I was pretty careful, but nobody’s perfect. Then he told me to do it quickly. That actually made me feel pretty good. Maybe he could see what was happening. Maybe he could see my plan. Maybe he already understood. Great! Now we were on the same page. I was on my way! I would see him on the flip side!
The scene in the garden went perfectly. I went up and kissed him on the cheek, and he pretended to be hurt. Yeah, we were definitely jiving. He got it. I watched his trial from the courtyard. Things went exactly as planned. The temple leaders had nothing. First, the trial was illegal because it was at night. I was thinking it would be an automatic acquittal just because of that. Then they had to pay witnesses to testify against him. That was even better. No evidence whatsoever. They knew they had nothing so they sent him to the Roman governor. Again, right in line with my plan. Perfect. He’d be back with us by dinner the next day.
And then Pilate washed his hands of him and sent him to die. I threw up again. I couldn’t believe it. One minute I was on top of the world ready to be the right-hand man in the new kingdom. The next, Jesus was on his way to die. How? How did that happen? Even Pilate said he was innocent. Why did they kill him then? Pilate was right; Jesus’ blood wasn’t on Pilate’s hands. It was on mine now. But it wasn’t supposed to be. Pilate was supposed to acquit him. Why didn’t Pilate acquit him?
I had turned over innocent blood to die. I had killed him. I recognized it. I wanted absolution. I wanted forgiveness. I went back to the temple; back to the system I knew and took comfort in. I went to the leaders, and I gave the money back. I told them I needed forgiveness and that I had betrayed an innocent man. Do you know how they responded? They told me to get lost. It wasn’t their concern. The spiritual well-being of a devoted follower of Yahweh wasn’t their concern.
I don’t know what to do now. Jesus is hanging on the cross. The temple leaders have turned their backs on me. Obviously, I can’t go back and hang out with the guys. The kingdom is lost; Jesus was the only one who could unite the people. I’ve been told by the High Priest that I can’t be made right with Yahweh. I don’t know what to do. I don’t know where to turn. My options have run out. It wasn’t supposed to go down like this.