‘Then one of the twelve – the one called Judas Iscariot – went to the chief priests and asked, “What are you willing to give me if I hand him over to you?” So they counted out for him thirty pieces of silver. From then on Judas watched for an opportunity to hand him over.’ (St Matthew 26:14-16, NIV)
In Matthew’s Gospel, this seems to take place two days before the death of Jesus and so Judas spied on him from that time, hence today’s name. There are a host of reasons why Judas may have agreed to do this but there are parallels once again between what happened that first Holy Week and the circumstances we face today.Derbyshire Constabulary recently featured in the news for using a drone to see what was happening in the Peak District after the restrictions brought in by the Government. Images of the people, dogs and cars there were then published and some commentators had very different views of this, variously describing it as observation, checking up, good policing, surveillance, spying, inventive use of a drone and abuse of civil liberties. It’s not easy for the police or those being policed as Governmentpolicy is implemented in light of Covid-19 and, since then, there have been many images of deserted streets and social distancing as well as people sunbathing and gathering in public places against advice. Nowadays, we are so used to being observed that it’s easy to forget that cameras normally record our actions frequently when we shop and that even our phones, TVs and electrical devices may be reporting our activities. The watching regularly goes on……..“Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation,” says Jesus later in the same chapter of Matthew’s Gospel, before Judas actually completes his covert activities. Jesus means be on your guard, in the sense of a night watchman when it is harder to see than in the day. Watching, looking, seeing, observing, spying, surveilling………whatever we perceive it to be, and whether or not we consider it justified, we are advised to keep a good lookout and a careful scrutiny of our own actions and those of others in these trying times. As we do, for all of us – as for Judas – the eventual cost of what is happening on Spy Wednesday will be far greater than thirty pieces of silver.