23 Aug The Bribe of All Bribes
A story about Yeshua; “The Bribe of All Bribes” is a beautiful way of retelling the story of Judas’ betrayal of Yeshua.
As much as Judas tried to understand what happened the night before, he couldn’t fathom why Yeshua wouldn’t declare himself the king of the Jews. “The timing’s perfect!” he thought. “The crowds have never been bigger. A few members of the Sanhedrin are supporting him, even if they are doing it secretly. So, why doesn’t he take the next step?” The answer to this riddle eluded him.
Flustered, Judas decided to wander through the market square to take his mind off his troubles. The squabbling between the vendors and customers distracted him and eased his mind. Still, he is wary of everyone. Though the crowds supported Yeshua and his followers, there were those who marked him as troublemaker and posed as a threat to his wellbeing. Sadly, he couldn’t get the same feeling of comfort from being with the other apostles, for he didn’t trust them.
For the past three years, he has listened to them gossiping among themselves saying, “Judas this and Judas that.” Rarely would they say a good word about him, but he had nothing to complain about. For what they said was true. He was a swindler, thief, and unknown to them, even a murderer.
Because of this and along with his paranoia, Judas decided to keep a low profile and try to keep out of everybody’s way. As Judas walked in the market square, he saw travelers from all around the known world. The Passover celebration drew the Jewish community from all corners of the earth and along with the haranguing, gossip flowed like the Jordan River.
The most talked about subject of the day was the coming arrival of Pontus Pilate. Rome was going to ensure civility was present, even at the cost of innocent lives. The words spoken of Pilate were those of anger, and even hate. But their shifting eyes held the look of fear. Pilate would have been pleased to hear this.
Beyond the Pilate rumors, Judas also heard zealots were planning on an uprising at the Golden Gate. “Just what we need. More rabble rousers and Roman guards to squelch them, along with countless innocents.” Powerless to stop the coming malady, he made a point to stay clear of there.
Tired of listening to the bickering, Judas strolled from stand to stand inspecting the goods offered. By happenstance, he spotted someone across the street watching him. His first impression was he didn’t look dangerous, but the way he was looking at him made Judas feel uneasy.
It was only a quick glance he gave the stranger, but it didn’t go unnoticed. When the man saw Judas looking at him, he crossed the street and met him. “Judas, I presume,” he began. “I heard you and your group of friends have fallen on troubled times with the temple priests and pharisees. Perhaps I can help.”
Judas shot back, “Perhaps you can tell me who you are and why I should trust you.”
The stranger’s cold eyes fixed on Judas’ as he hissed, “I don’t really care if you trust me or not. I get paid the same either way. I’m not interested in what you do or who you owe. I’m here as an intermediary for a party whose interested in information you have.”
All of Judas’s instincts told with not to trust what this man and to end this conversation, but instead, he heard himself saying, “What is it you’re asking for?”
“Information,” he replied. “Nothing more. Some members of the Sanhedrin wish to ask Yeshua some questions about his views in his theology and teachings. They’re very curious about what Yeshua is preaching and wishes to know if he can be taken seriously.”
Judas shook his head. “I doubt that very seriously. If they wanted to hear Yeshua’s words, they only need to go and listen to him speak.”
“That’s alright,” he replied. “Like I told you earlier. I don’t care if you trust me or not. But I do know you can trust a sack of silver. Thirty pieces to be exact. This is what my client is willing to pay you for your information. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain. No one will come to harm and Yeshua will be set free before you realize it. So, is it a deal?”
“Will he be detained?”
“You’re sure he’ll be released?”
“Can you arrange it, so it looks like I’ll be the one who sets him free?”
“As long as you’re willing to testify on his behalf, I don’t see any reason why we can’t.”
“Very well,” said Judas. “What is it you need to know?”
“Very simple,” said the man. “I need to know where we can find him, alone and unguarded.”
It was too good to be true. “God given me the solution to my problem,” he thought. “Not only will Yeshua have to reveal himself, but I’ll also be the one who saves him from his dilemma. I will put Peter in his place become the leader of the apostles. Then, we’ll abolish the Sanhedrin and sit in their stead on their seats of power. All authority will fall on Yeshua’s shoulders and from there to me. All my dreams will come true, and it will come with the smallest of prices.”
Satisfied with his decision, Judas whispered, “On the last night of Passover, you will find him at the Mount of Olives, in the Garden of Gethsemane. A few of his disciples will be with him, but that’s it.”
A smile formed on the man’s face “Excellent,” he said. Then, he opened his pouch. “Here are ten silver pieces for you now. When we have Yeshua in our hands, you will be paid the rest. On that night, wait for us at the gate to the Mount of Olives, then take us to him.”
At first, Judas was reluctant to take the coins, but as soon as he felt the weight of the silver in his hand, his feelings of apprehension disappeared. He placed the coins in his pouch and called out, “You won’t regret doing business with me, kind sir.”
Without saying a word, the man walked away and vanished in the crowd. Judas was overjoyed. “Soon, my troubles will be over.” He returned to the vendors and bought some figs with the money he just received. “Today, I have a snack, and tomorrow, there’ll be a banquet honoring me.” Judas returned to his room and waited for his destiny to arrive.
“A Bribe of All Bribes” is a short story by Howard Seeley, Submitted into Contest #159 in response to: Start your story with a character accepting a bribe on Reedy’s prompts.