On that Wednesday before his death, Jesus is in Bethany, in the house of Simon the Leper. As they sit at the supper table, a woman named Mary anoints Jesus' feet with costly oil. The disciples are indignant, asking why the oil was not instead sold and the money given to the poor; Judas wants to keep the money for himself.
Soon afterward, Judas goes to the Sanhedrin and offers to reveal Jesus to them in exchange for money, for thirty pieces of silver. From this moment on, Judas was looking for an opportunity to betray Jesus. In reference to his intent to betray Jesus, formed on Holy Wednesday, the day is sometimes called "Spy Wednesday".
In case you didn’t already know, the secular world this week celebrates Wednesday, April 01, as April Fool’s Day. This day is celebrated every year on the first day of April as a day when people play practical jokes and hoaxes on each other. Although this was not a tradition in Jesus’ time, several people do seem to be conspiring to play a joke on Jesus before the week is out.
Judas, for example, is plotting to betray Jesus to the Sanhedrin without His being aware. Judas meets with the High Priest Caiaphas and agrees to betray Jesus for thirty pieces of silver. He thinks he is getting away with it until two nights later when Jesus tells him, “What you are about to do, do it quickly." Jesus in His omniscience knows what Judas is up to. April Fool, Judas, the joke’s on you! Additionally, the thirty pieces of silver for his betrayal is used for Jesus's burial plot.
Pontius Pilate, the prefect for the Roman province of Judaea, confronts Jesus following His arrest. Frustrated with Jesus’ lack of response, he says, ““Do you refuse to speak to me? Don’t you realize I have power either to free you or to crucify you? To which Jesus answers, “You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above.” April Food, Pilate, the joke’s on you! And don’t think that your pathetic display of washing your hands is going to help how you are judged.
The High Priest Caiaphas also thinks he has the upper hand. He truly believes that if he can arrange for Jesus’ death, the Gospel that He and His disciples are preaching will be buried in the tomb with Him. April fool, Caiaphas, the joke’s on you! Three days after Jesus dies on the cross, He emerges from the tomb triumphantly, and the Gospel message is alive and well also. Not long afterward, Caiaphas tries unsuccessfully to shut the apostles up in jail to keep them quiet, but the Gospel message continues to spread throughout the world to this very day.
Worldly authorities still try to perpetuate their own April Fool's jokes, trying to make us all believe that money, worldly power, possessions, and celebrity are the true goals in life—that “he who dies with the most toys wins.” It’s all a joke, and not one that is particularly funny, either; in fact it's a bad joke, a sad joke. We who are under the covenant of baptism and faith this Lenten season need to focus on not falling for it.
Easter is near! Let us reflect on the meaning of every step toward Calvary so that we can enjoy a full celebration of the Savior!