Thursday, December 9, 2010

Keeper of the Bag

If you’re like me, you have days in the writing process when you tell yourself you wouldn’t do this for any amount of money or fame—at times it’s just too difficult. We all know money should never motivate the ministry of writing lest it taint the entire project.

Of course, the laborer is worthy of his reward (1 Tim 5:18) and by necessity money usually becomes a byproduct of hard work. Not that there is anything wrong with outlandish (but healthy) dreams about bestsellers and book contracts. Yet, as a writer for Jesus we must periodically remind ourselves of the real reason we labor lest we fall into the same downward spiral as Apostle Judas.

Contrary to the way most artist depict Judas, he was likely the most charismatic and dedicated man in the group. When looking for a financial secretary to keep the bag, we wouldn’t choose the dark, sullen man with the pointed eyebrows like artists have illustrated. We’d choose the most reliable person in the group, the one who exhibited sterling qualities and trustworthiness. I feel confident Judas was the most liked member of the group and had all the potential to be the super apostle of his day. After all, it was Apostle Paul who replaced Judas.

The name Judas implies he was from the tribe of Judah. This tribe had the responsibility of leading praise and worship for the nation of Israel. Most of Israel’s musicians came from the tribe of Judah. It makes sense then, that the English word translated bag was the Greek word for container for reeds (Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance).

I picture Judas digging deep inside his knapsack looking for something to hold the money and finding the little bag where he stored the reeds for his instrument. It must have been the perfect place to store a few coins at first, but as the offerings grew the money must have crowded out the reeds until it became only the money bag.

Sadly, this was symbolic of Judas life and downfall. His ministry began with the right motive, his vessel filled with worship and praise, but the love for monetary gain crowded out his worship. In that condition, his end was inevitable. Unable to forgive himself for betrayal, his last known act before suicide was to throw the money on the temple floor.

As Christian writers, we can learn from the pattern of Judas’ decline. Our ministry must first glorify and honor Him who created all things—money, by nature will follow.


  1. Great post, Kenny. I've never heard that perspective about Judas before...very enlightening.

  2. Actually, it was Matthias who replaced Judas...just sayin'.


  3. Janny; You're right about Matthias. I always forget to mention him because there is not much recorded about him. However, some scholars believe the apostles got ahead of God when they voted him in, because God seemed to have Saul of Tarsus in mind for the job. I'm sure there must have been some conflict among people over this at that time. Maybe that is why Paul kept stressing in his letters that he was called to be an apostle. Poor Matthias, what a bum deal for him, but I'm sure he was also well respected to have been voted in the group. But we can't have 13 apostles,because of Rev 21 (twelve names of the twelve foundations). Thanks for bringing that up.

  4. Your description of Judas makes so much sense! Thank you for sharing that.

  5. Very insightful, Kenny! Going along with your positive portrayal of Judas, he was seated at Jesus' left for the Last Supper, ahead of even Peter on this occasion. Judas is one of twenty-seven Last Supper monolog stories I've written (and published and that my church performs yearly). Interestingly, the Gospels and other sources suggest he was more than a musician. He was above all an Assassin, an Iscariot. I tend to agree with the research that suggests Judas probably expected Jesus to raise his hand and start a victorious revolution when Judas kissed him. It's likely most of the disciples were armed and ready (we know Peter was for sure), and probably hundreds or thousands of others were ready to revolt to the death and stationed around Jerusalem that Passover evening. (Jesus had told them he came to "bring a sword.") But Jesus surprised Judas and all of them that fateful evening. . . just as he still surprises many of us today. . . CHRISTMAS pondering BLESSINGS! :-)