Spy Wednesday is one of the traditional tags given to this day at the center of Holy Week. The unusual name comes from a line in the Gospel. Judas meets with members of the Sanhedrin in order to betray Jesus to them. They pay him for his cooperation. And then, “From this moment on,” the Gospel tells us, “Judas sought an opportunity to betray Jesus.”
From that moment on, he was lurking, spying, looking for the right moment.
He must have wanted to do it. The payment was thirty pieces of silver, which was no small amount. A skilled laborer might work hard for four months to earn that much.
But it was no big payout either. The ointment used on Jesus’ feet was worth more than twice that amount. Judas was treasurer for the Apostles, and he had been skimming from the purse (John 12:6). He probably had access to some generous donations. He might even have solicited a few.
But maybe he was fed up with living a double life. Maybe he had grown weary of looking at Jesus and knowing that the Master knew him to be a thief. Maybe he was sick and tired of feeling dirty in the presence of perfect innocence.
A double life is more than doubly stressful, and Judas knew he could not sustain it. He would have to choose one of two paths. Either he would confess his sins to the Master and promise to sin no more — or he would put the Master behind him.
He chose to move on, but to cash in on his way out. He sought an opportunity to betray Jesus.
People for centuries have pondered Judas’s motivations, marveling that someone could live with Jesus for so long and then throw him over for so little.
But don’t many sinners do the same thing? How many people confess their sins, but have no real intention of giving them up? How many people make their act of contrition, but mentally keep their options open, in case another opportunity for sin presents itself.
When we sin, we choose something other than Jesus — and often we sell him off far more cheaply than Judas did.
Spy Wednesday was perhaps Judas’s last real chance to repent. He wasted it.
As Lent comes to a close, it’s a good time for us to ask ourselves what we’ve made of the season. Have we made real progress in putting sin far behind us?
Spy Wednesday was Judas’s last chance. We don’t know when ours will be. Even now, it’s not too late for us to repent, choose Jesus, and begin again.