Wednesday, April 8, 2015

30 Pieces of Guilt

We always point our finger at Judas with ease don't we? He's the one who kissed our Savior with dishonor. He's the one who deceived and betrayed our Savior. What a coward, right? I mean, did he even know the meaning of love and valor? What did brotherhood mean to him? Was it that easy to trade his Savior for thirty pieces of silver, the cost of a slave? We would never do such a thing, right? 

"While he was still speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, suddenly arrived. A large mob, with swords and clubs, was with him from the chief priests and elders of the people. His betrayer had given them a sign: "The One I kiss, He's the One; arrest Him!" So, he went right up to Jesus and said, "Greetings, Rabbi!" and kissed Him. "Friend," Jesus asked him, "why have you come?" Matthew 26:47-50

Judas is the bad guy we judge with anger. How could at one moment he break bread with the Son of man and the next turn him over with a kiss? A kiss was to mean respect and affection, but Judas turned it into hypocrisy. Something we never do, right? 

"Then Judas, His betrayer, seeing that he had been condemned, was full of remorse and returned the 30 pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders. "I have sinned by betraying innocent blood," He said. "What's that to us?", they said. "See to it yourself!" So he threw the silver into the sanctuary and departed. Then he went and hanged himself." Matthew 27:3-5 

I've been pondering Judas. We like to throw him to the side and not really care about him, right? I mean, look what he did. But my pondering leads me to think we all can have a bit of Judas thick under our skin. 

Of course we don't really know what he was thinking before he decides to betray Jesus. We can know the temptation. We are all tempted daily in some way or another. It's how we act on that temptation that matters. What we first must understand is that God has all sovereignty. He knew what Judas would do this day. He had foreknowledge. He knows our past, present, and future. There isn't anything God is shocked about or finds unexpected. But what we must know is that Judas still choose his actions on this day. They weren't forced. No one made him do it. We all have free will. Judas could have changed his mind and fought the temptation he was facing. 

"The chief priests took the silver and said, "It's not lawful to put it into the temple treasury, since it is blood money." So they conferred together and bought the potter's field with it as a burial place for foreigners. Therefore that field has been called "Blood Field" to this day.Then what was spoken through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled: They took the 30 pieces of silver, the price of Him whose price was set by the Israelites, and they gave them for the potter's field, as the Lord directed me." Matthew 27:6-10

Repentance involves a change in the way we think and act. It results in a change in lifestyle. Remorse may accompany the admission of wrongdoing, but it can also be present when nothing wrong has been done. It focuses on the consequences or effects of one's actions on others, but does not necessarily imply that those consequences were caused by wrongdoing. Judas was remorseful, but if he had been repentant he would have turned back to Jesus. So this is where my pondering sits and is stirring. 

"Jesus replied to them, "The healthy don't need a doctor, but the sick do. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance." Luke 5:31-32

Judas made the wrong decision. After he had kissed Jesus there was no going back. Jesus was going before the Sanhedrin. But Judas had the choice to now go back to Jesus. He had the choice to ask for forgiveness. This is where I think we can relate to Judas. Did he think there was no going back for him? Did he think he crossed the line of no return? No forgiveness and no love for him ever again? Did he think Jesus would not accept him because of his choices? Later we see Jesus and Peter come together after Peter had denied Jesus three times. 

"As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us." Psalm 103:12

Oh, the sins of my life. Jesus bore them all on the cross. On the cross He held them ALL! I wasn't even born yet, but Jesus held each and every sin of mine. He held all sin, past, present, and future, on the cross. This is why His Father could not look upon Him. It wasn't that He didn't love His Son. It's because He could not look upon the sin. 

"But He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weaknesses, so that Christ's power may reside in me." 2 Corinthians 12:9

How many of us have thought that Jesus would never love us because of our pasts? How many of us have sinned and turned away from him with choices that took us in a valley we wished we had never entered? That is exactly where Satan wants us to be! Separated from our Lord and Savior. But friends, there's a better way than running. His sweet grace was waiting for Judas and it too us waiting for us.  

"The law came along to multiply the trespass. But where sin multiplied, grace multiplied even more so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace will reign through righteousness, resulting in eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." Romans 5:20-21

Friends, God's grace is ALWAYS bigger than our sin. There is nothing we do that goes unseen. He knows us by name. His love is bigger than our past. His forgiveness reaches beyond the depths we can comprehend. There is never a time in our life when we cannot go to Jesus. He wants us to come as we are. He wants to love us, to forgive us, and to restore us. 

Just what would have happened if Judas made the choice to go to Jesus instead of the tree and a rope? Just what if instead of turning away in his sin, he turned to the grace of Jesus? He still had a choice. But friends, how many of us have walked in the shoes of Judas? If we think for a moment we don't betray our Jesus we are wrong. We are sinners in need of grace. Our choices matter. That matter to Jesus. Can you see Judas running? Can you see his fear and his heart over his choices? He was remorseful of his actions, but he didn't turn to Jesus in repentance. Oh, how many of us our in such a need? Friends, our Jesus is waiting. He's waiting with patience and love for us to turn to Him and away from our sin. His love is greater than our sin. Oh, come sinner, oh come. All who are weary, come. (Matthew 11:28-30)

"Now I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because your grief led to repentance. For you were grieved as God willed, so that you didn't experience any loss from us. For godly grief produces repentance not to be regretted and leading to salvation, but worldly grief produces death. For consider how much diligence this very thing-this grieving as God wills-has produced in you: what a desire to clear yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what deep longing, what zeal, what justice! In every way you showed yourselves to be pure in this matter." 2 Corinthians 7:9-11
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