Stewardship Corner

Stewardship Corner 

The Gospels are filled with irony. Death itself is defeated by the death of Jesus. Jesus, the Son of God the Father, is given to Pilate in exchange for Barabbas, which means “son of the father.” But one particularly puzzling bit of irony is that Judas was given charge of the moneybag.

In response to Mary Magdelene’s lavish gift, when she poured out almost a year’s wages to anoint Jesus’ feet, Judas replied, “Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor” (John 12:5)? And then John tells us, “He said this, not because he cared for the poor, but because he was a thief, and having charge of the moneybag he used to help himself to what was put into it” (John 12:6).

So, why is Judas put in charge of the money? Jesus could have put any of his disciples in charge of it. He could have put Nathaniel in charge, of whom Jesus said, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit” (John 1:47), or John, “the disciple whom Jesus loved” (John 21:20), or Levi, the tax collector, who was financially savvy (Luke 5:27). But he didn’t. He chose Judas, whom He called “a devil” (John 6:70). Why?

Jesus put His money where his mouth was. “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal” (Matthew 6:19–20). Our Lord put not His trust in earthly treasures, but in the word and will of His Father. The Lord will provide.

In Judas, we see the heart and gut-wrenching end of one who treasured the wrong thing. “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21; Luke 12:34). “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money” (Matthew 6:24; Luke 16:13). It’s an alarming example, a visceral image, of what loving money and hating God can look like.

But no one, save Jesus, was the wiser. During Jesus’ three-year ministry, Judas looked, talked, and acted like the other eleven. He seemed to be about the right things. But “love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs” (1 Timothy 6:10). And this craving led Judas to sell Jesus for thirty pieces of silver, which the chief priests used to buy his own grave — an ironic transaction indeed.

All of this is to say that money is a good thing but it is not God. Use it for the purpose which God gives it. Spend it on providing for your family. Spend it on support of your community. Give it to support and provide for the work of God among you in church, the ministry of Word and Sacrament, through which you receive forgiveness, life, and salvation. Invest in all these things. Put your treasure where God calls you to put it, and your heart will follow. Your hearts will be set on things above, for these things — family, society, and church — are of God. “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all this will be added to you” (Matthew 6:33).

So, do not be anxious, but trust in the mercies of God. All you need will be given by your Father in heaven. “For it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom” (Luke 12:32). The Father can easily out-give what any thief can steal. And the beauty is: He not only can, but does. There is nothing ironic about that.