Last Week of Jesus- Wednesday


Judas Agrees to Betray Jesus.

 14 Then one of the Twelve—the one called Judas Iscariot—went to the chief priests 15 and asked, “What are you willing to give me if I deliver him over to you?” So they counted out for him thirty pieces of silver. 16 From then on Judas watched for an opportunity to hand him over.     Matthew 26:14-16

This is Wednesday of the last week of Jesus before he would be viciously killed. It’s a day of rest as they prepare for Passover. The disciples are with Jesus, resting with Him, but one slips away. Judas Iscariot make his way to see the chief priests and strikes a deal with them for 30’pieces of silver: that is about equivalent to 400-600.00 today. In that day it was enough to purchase one slave (Expdus 21:32)

600 dollars is not much to betray God and lose your soul.

We might forget that Jesus chose Judas after praying all night. They spent every day together for three years, talking, eating together, laughing. Jesus sent him out to minister. Judas shared in the miracle of feeding 5,000 people. His was in the circle of trust. Not much hurts worse than being betrayed by a brother.

And the priests were more than happy to pay Judas. They hated Jesus. They were jealous of His power, for who of them could raise the dead? Give sight to the blind? Hearing to the deaf? Heal them of all diseases? Deliver them from demons? Who could create food? Control storms? They were also jealous of His popularity for His power had garnered Him popularity, the likes of which no person ever walking on this planet had received because none had ever done what He did. They were jealous of the accolades He received from the crowd. They hated His message.

 Theirs was a message of earn your salvation by works, and His was a message of repent for your sin and receive your salvation as a gift of grace, and they hated that because they were proud and self-righteous. They wanted to earn their way in.

It was done. Jesus would be betrayed. Judas greed had won out. The Chief Priests got the last word. Satan had struck the final blow. Or so it looked… But it was all in the plan.

It had all been foretold in the prophecies. Jesus would be betrayed and he would die for it. But it was God’s plan all along. What Satan meant for the greatest victory for evil, God would use to redeem the world. Jesus endured the betrayal of a brother, the loneliesness of being a rejected leader, and the punishment of a deadly criminal all for us. He did it all so we could live free. He did it because He loved us intensely. Never forget! Never take this sacrifice for granted!

SIN OF LEGALISM

Legalism is alive and well in churches today, and none of us are immune from its ways.

At the root of legalism is selfishness and pride.  Legalism feeds the selfish nature.  The legalist relies on willpower to do rightly, believing this pleases God and earns His favor.  This makes sense to our mind, but it is not the way God measures value.  We all need to be very thankful for that!

Legalism is appealing.  We like it because it appeals to our self-reliant nature, but self-reliance is antithetical to all that Christianity stands for.  The Gospel condemns our acts of righteousness.  Our righteousness leaves a stench to God.

It is not because we cannot do anything that is good.  It is because anything we do that is good is tainted by a wicked, glory-hungry, heart.  All our attempts at goodness are tainted by sin.

This gets to the heart of legalism.  The problem is motive; our actions are not enough.  Motive is essential.  Even Jesus said follow what the Pharisees teach, but do not live like they do (Matt 23:3).  The Pharisees did good works by following the law, but their motives were impure.

Everything the legalist does in the name of God, feeds their hunger to gain value.  And that is the problem.  It is impossible for man to earn enough value to be found worthy of God’s standard (Rom 3:23).

Jesus rebuked the Pharisees for being clean on the outside but rotten on the inside.  It’s all about the heart, the motive behind what we do.  When Christ has transformed our lives by the Gospel, we have a new heart, a new motive, that looks to honor God.  Christ becomes the motivating factor of our actions.  The Christian desires to give glory to God through his actions.  The legalist desires to give glory to self by their actions.

Legalism is alive and well today and takes many forms.  From style of music to versions of the Bible to facial hair to dress. It’s vital that churches preach the importance of relationship and not rules, that Jesus is exalted and not man, that grace abounds and not works-righteousness.  It is the call of the Church to safeguard the Gospel from anything that lessens the centrality of Jesus.