Wednesday, April 16, 2014

A Walk Through Holy Week - Post #3

Today is "Holy Wednesday" also knows as "Spy Wednesday" by many, because the dark and secret plot to kill Jesus is starting to take shape. Yesterday, the chief priests, scribes, and elders were humiliated by Jesus, who compared them to wicked tenants in the parable he told in the temple (Matt. 12:1-12). The hatred in their hearts towards Jesus was growing stronger and stronger as they sought ways to defame him and minimize his influence over the people. However, their efforts continued to fall short, and because they feared an uprising among the people Jesus continued to gain favor and converts. Something had to happen to stop Jesus. These men needed a different way to get to Jesus that could be done secretly. They needed a closer connection to him. They needed a spy.

Enter Judas Iscariot. Judas was one of Christ's twelve disciples. He traveled with Jesus throughout his ministry and was very close to him. But he was also caught up in a grave sin, one which would eventually lead to his own demise. He was the treasurer and "keeper of the moneybag." But the Bible also said that he was a greedy man who was dishonest and a thief. One piece of evidence occurred when Jesus was reclining at a table in the house of Lazareth, Mary, and Martha. Mary approached Jesus, and began to wash Christ's feet with expensive perfume and dry it off with her hair. It is in this story that we get a clearer picture of Judas' heart and motives:
Mary therefore took a pound of expensive ointment made from pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (he who was about to betray him), said, “Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?”He said this, not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief, and having charge of the money bag he used to help himself to what was put into it. Jesus said, “Leave her alone, so that she may keep it for the day of my burial. For the poor you always have with you, but you do not always have me.” | John 12:1-8
In John's gospel we are told that Judas' concern was not for the poor (as he claimed), but was instead concern that he wasn't able to embezzle money from the sale of the expensive ointment which was being "wasted" on the feet of Jesus. John surmised that Judas' heart was hardened by the sin of greed and the evidence we have in scripture, shows that Judas was willing to do anything to fulfil his desire. Even betraying the Messiah. And in the gospel according to Mark, there is no subtle transition between the exchange Judas had with Jesus while Mary was washing his feet and his effort to fulfill his greedy passions.
Then Judas Iscariot, who was one of the twelve, went to the chief priests in order to betray him to them. And when they heard it, they were glad and promised to give him money. And he sought an opportunity to betray him. | Mark 14:10-11

And just like that, the evil plotters had their spy. One of Jesus' inside men was willing to betray him for the small price of (30) pieces of silver, the going price of a slave in Jesus day. Game. Set. Match. Or so they thought. Little did they know that their actions were simply a small piece of a much greater story God had begun to tell before the foundations of the world. Christ came to earth to die for the sins of the world. Those plotting against Jesus needed someone (like Judas) to turn Jesus over to them and for it to be done in secrecy so it wouldn't start an uprising. However, God knew the evil in their hearts and the evil in Judas' heart as well, and he used the sinful desires of these men to accomplish his plan of redemption. And once again we see, what men mean for evil, God will use for accomplish his holy purposes.

Why the Insult of Betrayal? (David Mathis -

Why would God have it go down like this? If Jesus truly is being “delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God” (Acts 2:23), and his enemies are doing just as God’s hand and plan “had predestined to take place” (Acts 4:28), why design it like this, with one of his own disciples betraying him? Why add the insult of betrayal to the injury of the cross?

We find a clue when Jesus quotes Psalm 41:9 in forecasting Judas’s defection: “He who ate my bread has lifted his heel against me” (John 13:18). King David knew the pain not just of being conspired against by his enemies, but betrayed by his friend. So now the Son of David walks the same path in his agony. Here Judas turns on him. Soon Peter will deny him, and then the remaining ten will scatter.

From the beginning of his public ministry, the disciples have been at his side. They have learned from him, traveled with him, ministered with him, been his earthly companions, and comforted him as he walked this otherwise lonely road to Jerusalem.

But now, as Jesus’s hour comes, this burden he must bear alone. The definitive work will be no team effort. The Anointed must go forward unaccompanied, as even his friends betray him, deny him, and disperse. As Donald Macleod observes, “Had the redemption of the world depended on the diligence of the disciples (or even their staying awake) it would never have been accomplished” (The Person of Christ, 173).

As he lifts “loud cries and tears” (Hebrews 5:7) in the garden, the heartbreak of David is added to his near emotional breakdown: “Even my close friend in whom I trusted, who ate my bread, has lifted his heel against me” (Psalm 41:9). He is forsaken by his closest earthly associates, one of them even becoming a spy against him. But even this is not the bottom of his anguish. The depth comes in the cry of dereliction, “My God! My God! Why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46).

But more remarkable than this depth of forsakenness is the height of love he will show. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends, even when they have forsaken him.

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