Tuesday, May 22, 2012
Thursday, May 10, 2012
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.
Sunday, May 6, 2012
Matt. 23:10 “And do not be called 1leaders; for One is your Leader, that is, Christ.
Matt. 23:11 “But the greatest among you shall be your servant.
Matt. 23:12 “And whoever exalts himself shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted.
Jesus was addressing the Pharisees who thought far too much of themselves. They saw themselves as the spiritual leaders of their people and yet they were leading their people to spiritual destruction. The word here used for leader can also be translated "teacher." Whichever one you use, he was warning them to recognize that the only true leader or teacher for them was the Messiah -- or the Christ! They had been holding themselves up as honored individuals above all others and Jesus was reminding them that there was One greater. We are to lift up the One who is greater because if someone exalts themselves, they will be humbled.
We are called to live lives of humility in this world and everything about our lives should point people to the Messiah. This is a great reminder on a weekend where many people are celebrating commencement and human achievements. Really, they are nothing except achievements which are to glorify God. Human achievements would include being called a leader or a teacher, but Jesus reminds us that these are not titles which are to be placed upon us as humans, but should be reserved for the true Leader and Teacher -- the Messiah!
The problem is that too often we can place our trust in ourselves and our own personal abilities. Any talents and abilities which we may have are simply a gift from God to be used for his kingdom purposes in a desire to draw men and women to him. It's not for us to be called "leader" but for us to lead people to the true "leader." Jesus will lead us and teach us in all the ways of life. May he be exalted!
Lord, thank you for your leadership and guidance and please, help my life to lead others to you. Amen.
Saturday, May 5, 2012
Matt. 22:1 ¶ Once more Jesus spoke to them in parables, saying:
Matt. 22:2 “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding banquet for his son.
Matt. 22:3 He sent his slaves to call those who had been invited to the wedding banquet, but they would not come.
Matt. 22:4 Again he sent other slaves, saying, ‘Tell those who have been invited: Look, I have prepared my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves have been slaughtered, and everything is ready; come to the wedding banquet.’
Matt. 22:5 But they made light of it and went away, one to his farm, another to his business,
Matt. 22:6 while the rest seized his slaves, mistreated them, and killed them.
Matt. 22:7 The king was enraged. He sent his troops, destroyed those murderers, and burned their city.
Matt. 22:8 Then he said to his slaves, ‘The wedding is ready, but those invited were not worthy.
Matt. 22:9 Go therefore into the main streets, and invite everyone you find to the wedding banquet.’
Matt. 22:10 Those slaves went out into the streets and gathered all whom they found, both good and bad; so the wedding hall was filled with guests.
Yesterday we read about King David's envoys who were treated so poorly. Today Jesus tells a similar story, but he's talking about his very own Father. He has sent out envoys over and over again to invite people to come to an incredible banquet! But the people are too preoccupied with their farm (or maybe weekend retreat) and their work. They don't have time to appreciate the fact that they've been invited to the King's table.
While some simply continue doing the normal things they've always done in life, there are others who go out of their way to mistreat the envoys of the King. They mistreat and then kill them.
The people who had been invited were the people who would have thought that they SHOULD be invited - but didn't respond to the incredible invitation. Instead, the King told his people to go and to gather all the people that they could find and bring them to the table.
Self-centeredness keeps these people from enjoying all that God has for them in life. They are too preoccupied with their own dealings, whether it be their work, their recreation, or their self-absorption. Their pride gets the best of them and they refuse to respond to the kind and generous invitation of the Father. Just like the princes of Hunan, these people mistreat the Father's envoys. Their self-centeredness leads them to making stupid decisions which will now have eternal consequences. Those who do not come to the marriage supper of the lamb will be left to the place of weeping and gnashing of teeth.
I'm not sure why the people in this parable didn't recognize what was really happening. It was the King sending out the invitation, and they didn't respond. But aren't we just as crazy these days? God, the Creator, the King of all things is constantly sending out invitations to us on a daily basis, wanting us to be his holy people. He is willing to provide absolutely everything that we need to be all that he created us to be, and yet, we are often too preoccupied with the things of life to respond. I have too much work to do -- or I have all these toys for which I must care!
Don't do anything stupid! The kingdom is spread before each and every single one of us and we are invited to come and partake and live in that kingdom.
Lord, please help me to keep my eyes open to the work of your kingdom and not be so busy that I don't see what's really happening. Amen.