The Money Keeper
“I am condemned,” I say to you.
“By whom?” and “For what?” you will ask,
And whether you’ll understand or not,
To answer you now I set as my task.
I stand in this field, alone,
Thinking of the events of today,
Wondering, “Where do I begin?
Will you listen to what I say?”
My name means “God is praised”,
But as you will learn in my reflection,
He was not praised by me.
I am more aptly named “Deception”.
I was keeper of the money bag, you see.
The orphans, the widows, the poor were my care,
And while I did what was needed,
Many a time, I also took my own share.
I don’t believe the others suspected,
But the beginning to my end
Began some days ago in Bethany,
At a dinner we were invited to attend.
The dinner was given in His honor.
You may know to whom I refer.
You may have heard how He raised up Lazarus
Which caused quite a stir.
Jesus is His name:
Miracle worker, healer, exorcist, and prophet.
While He’s been these to everyone,
He’d not been to me what I covet.
That night I began to realize this,
As He admonished me and the others
For rebuking Mary for wasting perfume
That could have helped orphans and poor mothers.
Granted, concern for the poor wasn’t my motive.
I was thinking only of my greed;
But Him speaking about His death
Upset me and made me worried.
The thoughts stirring in my heart
Might have returned to dormancy
If not for His continued talk of leaving us
Which revealed how trust in Him was chancy.
I almost cannot admit to what I did next.
The whole story must be known, though,
So I confess, that I went to the chief priests
And revealed my heart to be shallow.
I asked what they would give me,
Should I consent to betray Jesus;
And for thirty pieces of silver
I agreed to an act most egregious.
Not until our celebration of Passover, though,
Did I begin having doubts,
That the path I had now chosen to take
Might not be the best of routes.
Given the dusty roads that we walk,
It is our custom to wash before we eat.
Jesus astounded us last night
By humbling Himself and washing our feet.
Usually a job for the low, He explained,
“Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.”
After He said, “You are clean, but not all of you.”
Did He know what I had done secretly?
We began to eat, and He said, “One of you will betray me.”
My heart thudded in fear.
As one after another asked, “Surely not I?”
The truth of my lie He made clear.
“Woe to the one who betrays the Son of Man.
It would be better if he had not been born.”
Dipping my bread into wine, He told me to go quickly.
His eyes were resolute. Mine were forelorn.
I still did not fully understand, though.
I thought I was doing what was best.
I made my way to the chief priests
To make preparations for Jesus’ arrest.
I knew where to find Him;
How often we had met Him in that grove.
I had arranged a signal,
So with that in mind, toward Him I wove.
“Are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?”
I halted, not knowing what to say.
As the guards came forward, Peter drew his sword.
A poor servant’s ear, he did slay.
I waited, barely breathing.
Jesus raised up His arm.
“No more of this!”
I could see faces turn to alarm.
He brought down his hand toward the servant.
“Put your sword away! Am I leading a rebellion?”
In surprise I watched as He bent over
And ever so gently healed the ear of that scullion.
What was He doing? Would He not resist?
Instead, “This is your hour,” He said.
“I am He whom you’re looking for.”
The guards swarmed in. Everyone fled.
I myself followed to see what would happen.
Too soon and too clearly, I saw the intent.
Lie after lie was told by one and another.
Only with Jesus’ death would they be content.
Jesus Himself simply stood without a sound.
“Are You not going to answer?” they asked, confused.
Finally, “If You are the Christ, tell us!”
For a moment, I thought Jesus looked amused.
“If I tell you, you would not believe me,
And if I asked you, you would not answer.”
Jesus’ words shot through the air
With the precision of an accurate lancer.
“Are you then saying You’re the Son of God?”
“You are right in saying I am,” He replied.
Caiaphas, the high priest, began tearing his clothes.
“Blasphemy! He is worthy of death!” he cried.
My heart trembled within.
My mind started to whirl,
As words and images of three years past
Started slowly, then quickly to unfurl.
“Blessed are the poor in spirit.”
“If salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again?”
“I am the vine and you are the branches.”
“Whoever obeys Me is the one who loves Me, then.”
Jesus conversing with a Samaritan woman.
Jesus speaking to the wind and the waves.
Jesus healing lepers and feeding crowds.
Jesus calling Lazarus from out of the graves.
“I have sinned!” I exclaimed.
That I had betrayed innocent blood, I now understood.
I had sent to His death He, who had only
Shown Himself to be holy, just and good.
I went to the chief priests to return their money.
My remorse was more than I could bear.
But they simply responded, “What is that to us?”
I threw the coins at them in despair.
And now I am back where I began.
I stand alone in this field.
Only at my end has the truth
To me been revealed.
He told us that He was the Good Shepherd
Who would lay down His life for His sheep.
Only now do I see that He spoke
Of a coming promise to keep.
He explained that God loved the world,
And that He sent His Son so we would not perish.
Only now do I realize that it’s not the physical
But the spiritual that one needs to cherish.
All this has come too late for me.
I have sent Jesus to His death.
My only hope is to advise you
With my last words of breath.
I did not know that I needed Jesus to touch my heart.
I wanted only what was tangible and physical.
Now only do I understand that Yahweh’s work is
So much more mystical.
I wish I could remain to speak with you more,
but sacrifice for my sin would be more than I could imagine.
I see no other alternative than for my life
To become just as I am, empty and barren.
I ask, though, that you remember my words,
Spoken in shame and guilt.
Take time this very day to reflect
Upon the ministry Jesus built.
If indeed He is the Son of God,
You have only to gain,
By understanding what I now believe –
That it was for you He was slain.