Thursday, May 10, 2012
Trying too hard to Compensate
Matt. 27:6 But the chief priests, taking the pieces of silver, said, “It is not lawful to put them into the treasury, since they are blood money.”
Matt. 27:7 After conferring together, they used them to buy the potter’s field as a place to bury foreigners.
Matt. 27:8 For this reason that field has been called the Field of Blood to this day.
Matt. 27:9 Then was fulfilled what had been spoken through the prophet Jeremiah, “And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of the one on whom a price had been set, on whom some of the people of Israel had set a price,
Matt. 27:10 and they gave them for the potter’s field, as the Lord commanded me.”
Judas had betrayed Jesus Christ and suddenly he was overcome with what he had done. Maybe he had thought that Jesus would be able to save himself. Surely Jesus wouldn't really be crucified and die on a cross?! And yet, that was the path on which he had placed Jesus. He comes to the chief priests and he confesses his wrong-doing and declares that Jesus is innocent! The chief priests who were to listen to the confessions and absolve people of their sins would have nothing to do with Judas. Why? Because they themselves were complicit; they had set the entire scenario in motion with their payment of Judas. Now, they could no longer perform their priestly function. In this moment Judas himself is genuinely confessing of his sin and takes responsibility. He does not blame the chief priests, but asks for forgiveness.
The forgiveness is never given which is seen in their act of the purchase of the field, which is ultimately done in the name of Judas. This is their way of technically never accepting his return of the money. Their hypocrisy is seen in the fact that they refuse to "contaminate" the treasury with the return of the "blood money." When did it become "blood money?" Before, or after they gave it to Judas? One wonders whether the money had originally even come from the very treasury to which Judas was hoping to return it.
Ever wanting to look good in the eyes of the people the chief priests come up with a scheme to compensate to for their behavior. They eventually purchase a field outside the city in which foreigners can be buried. It was originally called the Potter's Field because, presumably, it had been owned by a potter who would use the field as a place in which to discard his broken pieces of pottery. However, the people were not so easily fooled and they came to call it the "Field of Blood" because they knew that it had been purchased with the blood money which the priests had paid for the life of Christ.
This entire sad story is filled with people who are trying to compensate for their sin. Judas wants to give the money back and doesn't want to have to carry the guilt of what he had done to Jesus Christ. The chief priests don't want to take responsibility for their action and try to pretend in their self-righteousness not to contaminate the treasury and do something nice for the foreigners. Sadly, there are times when we are all guilty of similar behaviors when we find ourselves being driven by our own personal desires in life. Often this does not begin as a blatant out and out journey against the desires of God, but a simple adjustment in the trajectory of life and small decisions or choices which eventually lead us to a place which is out of alignment with God's desire for our lives. This is what happened to Judas. His love of money continually led him in a direction which was out of sync with his Master. While, previously it led him to poor judgement with the management of the Jesus Team money, now it led him to betrayal. For the chief priests it was several years of jealousy which brought them to a point where they were able to devise a scheme which would lead to the demise of Jesus Christ.
In the end they all felt guilty and when we get off track in our relationship with Christ, we too will eventually feel guilty. The question is what we do when we find ourselves in that place. Do we come and repent. Judas repented before the chief priests. What would have happened had he repented before the Lord? Maybe the outcome would have been different. The chief priests on the other hand still wouldn't repent. Instead, they chose to try and look good in the eyes of the people. That is the scariest response; when we refuse to take responsibility and instead choose to compensate. How many people try to compensate when in a difficult situation. I'll never forget a parent in a hospital room with their dying child telling their pastor that they would start tithing, if only God would save their child! Oh yes, I'll compensate now! There are numerous ways in which we try to compensate for our lack of response. Usually it is in overcompensation -- whether in the way of funds or overly zealous behavior. Usually it is because we are not dealing with the very core issues.
God does not call us to pay back or compensate for the things we have done. God calls us to genuine repentance. If we are genuinely repentant, he will will forgive us. It's that simple! The compensation has already been paid by the death of Jesus Christ. He knew that there was nothing we could do that would compensate for our sin. He is trying to tell us to quit trying so hard. Let go, let loose and let God simply guide and lead in every single aspect of our lives. We are not the ones who are called to compensate for our sins.
Lord, help me to be relaxed in my relationship with you as I seek your direction in each and every single day of life. Amen.