Remaining In God's Mercy
September 19, 2010
日本キリスト教団 頌栄教会牧師 清弘剛生 Pastor Takao Kiyohiro, Shoei Church, Church of Christ, Japan
Translator M.A.F., Indiana, USA
1. Just before in the scripture passage I just read to you, the text said that Judas went to the chief priests. Judas betrayed Jesus. In the other gospels a sum of money can be found, which Judas was destined to accept. The price for Jesus was thirty silver coins. They say it was the market price for one slave at the time. Judas sold over his own religious teacher, of all people, for the same price as a slave. Then he goes back to his associates, sits back down for the Passover meal with an innocent face that pretended ignorance. That is the scene I just read to you.
2. The text says in verse ten that "One of the twelve, Judas Iscariot, was about to hand Jesus over, and left for the chief priests." The reason the text deliberately says, "one of the twelve," is most likely because it involves the nuance of the shock of "Judas, being one of the twelve disciples, of all people." At the least, what this means is that no one among the disciples at the location of the last supper had noticed Judas' betrayal. Nobody suspected a thing, that "It was Judas." Everyone was wondering, "Was it me?" By speaking of Judas' betrayal like this, [it shows] nobody saw it coming, nobody even imagined it possible to happen.
3. Thus, Judas' betrayal is covered over by enigma. Thus, after it happened, various speculations about it would pop up all over and crisscross. Why did Judas commit the betrayal? It has been said over and over since olden times the reason Judas did it was because he had lost hope in Jesus. All of the disciples believed that Jesus of Nazareth would powerfully topple down the authorities of the world and that he himself would become the king and rebuild the kingdom of Israel. But contrary to these expectations and hopes of the disciples, after [his] entrance into the capitol city of Jerusalem, not a hint of it even starting to happen could be seen in Jesus. On the contrary, far from it, he starts saying things like, I will experience suffering and be killed. When one of the ladies in Bethany poured the perfume of nard upon Jesus, he spoke seemingly timidly, that "She anointed my body with perfume and has made preparation for [my] burial." Meanwhile, rumors could be heard that the authorities in Judea were scheming to make Jesus a dead man. Judas thought, "I have been following this man and believing in him, but have I been mistaken?" Whereupon, he could even entertain the thought, "Isn't it time to sell Jesus out?"
4. Of course this is but one theory [for the betrayal]. Not even one clear motive is expressed in the scriptures. Perhaps there may be significance in that no reasons have been clearly set forth in the scriptures. As a matter of fact, isn't reality just that way for us human beings? When we've sinned, we feel like there are different reasons for [our sinning]. It doesn't mean we can't find excuses. But most of the time the person doesn't really understand the real reason. Therefore then, it is human beings who end up doing these kinds of things, like betraying a loved one, though still not really knowing the cause. Therefore, in The Gospel According To Luke, another way of writing it is given. "Satan entered into Judas, who is called Iscariot." In the final analysis, the primitive church could only give it this kind of explanation. [The church explained] that "Somehow or other a power was at work that caused [Judas] to sin. Satan entered [him]. As a result, Judas betrayed Jesus."
5. Even though Satan quite plausibly did enter in, there seems to be a process to it. Because there was an opening, Satan came in. [He] can enter the smallest of openings in the heart. Things begin from there. For example, here's such a thing. As touched upon earlier, there is the story, just before this, of the lady who poured the perfume of nard on Jesus. At that moment, the people complained about it. "Why is [she] wasting the perfume like this? We could have sold the perfume for more than three hundred denarii and donated it to the poor!" Not generalizing this as "the people," The Gospel According To John plainly says, "Judas of Iscariot made [the complaint]." And it adds to this that "The reason he said this was not because he cared for the poor but because he was playing the hypocrite the whole time he had charge of the purse, being a thief."
6. It [mentions] the moneybag for Jesus' entire party. It doesn't mean that it had a huge amount of money in it. Even though he was being deceptive, I don't think that he had put in his breast pocket as large an amount of money as [one may think right off]. But he did have there [in his breast] a betrayal against the trust of Jesus who had already entrusted him with the purse. It starts from such a small spot. It starts from places that don't seem to be that big of a thing. An opening is made at that point and time. From there Satan enters in, and one reaches the world of big betrayals. Don't you think that such [a process] surely exists?
The Call [To Judas] From Jesus
7. Well, Judas betrayed Jesus, but after that, he went back to his peers feigning an innocent face. And never deviating from it he sat at the dinner table. That's right. Nobody knows, so he thinks the whole time. -- Surely no one knew. Except one person. That's right. Except Jesus. Only Jesus knew of Judas' betrayal. When the whole group of them was seated at the table and having the meal, the Lord said as follows. "I truly say to you, but one among you, a person having a meal with me, is about to betray me," (verse eighteen).
8. Nevertheless though, don't you think these words are strange? That, [especially] since he knew of Judas' betrayal, he had so many [chances] to protect himself from that betrayal. We could expect that he was in [numerous] positions to outwit or do something against the betrayal of Judas. For instance, if Jesus had pointed Judas out here and said, "This man is about to betray me," surely the other eleven would have grabbed Judas and tied him up. He would not have done this traitorous deed against Jesus from right under [their] noses. Or, [if] they were all hotheads. Judas surely would have had a hard way to go. He might have been killed. Since Jesus already knew Judas' sin, we could expect that he was in a position to give a crushing bow to the betrayal by Judas in the manner so-described.
9. But, Jesus did not even speak Judas' name out. There was not even the least intention on Jesus' part to avenge himself against the betrayal by Judas. Knowing Judas' heart fully, Jesus let him have a seat at the dinner. Since he only says just, "One among you," nobody has a clue who [it is]. They started saying in turns, "Is it me?" But, Judas definitely knew [who]. He must have clearly understood whom Jesus was talking about. In a way you could say that Jesus was speaking directly to Judas' heart in a manner that only Judas [could] clearly see. "I understand [what] you [did]. I know the manner in which you have betrayed me." Judas must have heard it that way. Not condemning him or inflicting punishment, he appealed to his heart so that he might come back.
10. The reason Jesus did not say Judas' name out loud was he was simply concerned for Judas. Yes, he was. Jesus was not thinking about himself, of when he would be betrayed, but about Judas himself. The Lord said, "That person who betrays the son of man is cursed. It would have been better for him never to have been born." -- He said, "It would have been better for him [Judas]." He did not say, "Had Judas not been born, it would have been better for me." Jesus is not speaking of his own curse as one who is betrayed, but is speaking of how cursed it is for Judas to be going about on his own free will, and he is grieving for him.
11. [There is the figure of] Jesus knowing everything but yet he receives Judas at the supper table. [There is the figure of] Judas sitting at the table with Jesus. We ourselves [can be] compared with the figures [at the table]. The table at which we sit with Jesus fully knowing all of us. The table at which we sit with Jesus truly caring for us and simply thinking of us. The Lord's Supper table, as it stands placed in this sanctuary, is that such a table. To be assembled in [this] sanctuary in which the Lord Supper table is placed means that one is sitting at that kind of meal. Thus, Jesus cares for our sins [here at this table]. He is addressing us in a manner in which only we [can] understand. The Lord is speaking to us so that we will understand, "It is me."
12. The table at which Judas was sitting. The table of Jesus which we surround, in verses twenty-two and following that I read to you today, [the text] speaks about what the table of Jesus is. It states that Jesus takes the bread from it and tears it, and says, "Take! This is my body." After saying that, he handed out the bread. That meant that Jesus gave his very all, everything of himself. And that truth would come to be fulfilled, the next day, on the cross. Jesus deemed it good that his own flesh was to be torn on the cross with nails. In this way then, he was willing to give his all, along with forgiveness of sin. He said this, tore the bread, and handed it out. That is [his] table. And Jesus also said, "This is my blood that is shed on behalf of many, the blood of the covenant." The covenant refers to the special relationship with God. In order to re-connect the relationship with God that was destroyed by sin, Jesus was willing to shed [his] blood. Jesus handed over the blood of the atonement for sin. That was [his] table. In other words, the table of the Lord is the table at which Jesus hands over God's love and forgiveness. That is the table of God's mercy and compassion.
13. Judas was sitting at this table of God's mercy with Jesus. At this table of God's mercy, Jesus must have offered, even to Judas, his own body and blood, along with his love and forgiveness. But, for all practical purposes, Judas did not accept Jesus' love and forgiveness. He shut his heart to Jesus as tight as he could, he hardened his own heart, he turned his own back to Jesus' call to him, and then, he ended up going out into the darkness of the night.
14. "It would have been better for him never to have been born." This text here, both before and after [he said it], is the only place where Jesus ever said about somebody that "It would have been better [for him] never to have been born." It doesn't sound exactly like something Jesus may have said. But yet [what Judas did] was cursed, to the point that [Jesus] could not avoid telling it like it was, that [Judas'] shutting his heart to the love of Jesus, his not repenting, his not coming back to him, his not accepting forgiveness of sin, his excluding himself from the mercy of God [were cursed things to do]. Judas did not see how cursed this was. There was one who did know it best -- it was Jesus himself.
15. Just as Judas was invited, we too are invited to the table of the Christ. We are in this place right now [around the table]. Just as Judas sat at the table with an innocent face, we too are sitting with innocent faces. However, just as Christ knew all of Judas, Christ also knows us. He knows everything we have thought, said, and done. And yet still the Lord loved Judas [and] the Lord loves us as well. For all practical purposes, Judas did not accept the Lord's love and forgiveness. We must not be that way. We come back to the Lord, accept forgiveness of sin, and begin to walk with the Lord anew and afresh from here on out.