Judas is a prime example of casual shopping gone bad. For some reason, he looked at an item on the shelf without checking the price. What caught his eye, exactly, we don’t know, but something made 30 pieces of silver seem like a worthwhile exchange for ministry, friendship, and love. Some assume that he was trying to force Jesus into action; others think the money, though pitiful in amount, appealed to his greedy nature. Regardless, he paid the price of betrayal. He discovered it was a steep price with a bitter reward.
Jesus, on the other hand, spotted us on the shelf and said, “I’ll take them!” The price tag showed how expensive we were. We cost much more than the pocket change we appeared to be worth. Our price tag read, “the life of Jesus, the blood of the only spotless Lamb of God.” Knowing this, Jesus placed us in his cart, happy to pay the charge, as if we were a good deal.
Both men made purchases that lead to their deaths. But their decisions operated from different motivation and resulted in different outcomes.
Judas, in the moment, thought he was getting something of worth. The money seemed grand and easily acquired. His choice appeared to be a simple transaction with little personal expense. He gave minimal heed to his actions or their long-term consequences, making his purchase to gratify transitory emotions. At the last Passover, when Jesus remarked that someone would betray him, Judas questioned, “Is it I?” He either had a scheme in mind that made him indifferent to his betrayal, or he had so dismissed his conscience that he didn’t consider his actions to be betrayal. Maybe he assumed he could have the money and a happy ending to the situation. Regardless, he planned to be the winner, never realizing he’d lose in the end.
Jesus, on the other hand, made an intentional purchase. It cost his all, but he’d counted the cost and said we were worth it. His motivation wasn’t fleshly indulgence. It was love. Real love and service and relationship that would go the distance--and in doing so, impact all of life for all of eternity. He’d considered the long-term results of his actions, and his love said the price wasn’t too much. Like saving up for an important purchase, Jesus’ life prepared for his death, the price required for mankind’s release from sin, and when the time came to pay the cost, he hung on the cross to make the purchase.
We too, are shoppers. Within us are both the capacity to disregard the eternal as we indulge in momentary, emotional whims—as well as the ability to count the cost and view things in light of eternity. Like Judas, when we seek instant, selfish gratification, we are responding to our feelings that scream, “Enjoy it now!” but a bitter payment will be extracted later. On the other hand, a Jesus-like perspective prompts us to make choices in light of eternity. It contemplates what is best and delays gratification. A Jesus’ view isn’t about haste, easy fulfillment, or avoiding pain, rather it submits to temporary pain, considers others, and looks forward to the joy of real, abundant, everlasting life.
Because of the power of our perspective as we make our life choices, Scripture admonishes us to count the cost of discipleship. We all want happy endings and assume that we will make it to heaven, but for that to be so, we must take note of what we are putting into the cart of our lives. When it’s time to make a decision, we need to take that decision off the shelf, tip it over, and examine its price tag. We must choose ease now or ease later…each at the expense of death, either to our temporary appetites or to our eternal life. To really follow Jesus means we inventory the REAL value of things in light of eternity. It means we take up a cross of our own, and if we choose, as did Christ, to die to self now, we will know the joy of eternal resurrection, a bargain at any price.
Tip/Tidbit: Are you carelessly making spiritual decisions? If so, stop, remove yourself from the feelings of the moment, and reevaluate your choices in light of what will bring an eternal happy ending.