So much meaning is packed into the words, ďJudas, one of the Twelve.Ē He was one of the Disciples of Christ, one of His followers, specially chosen, who had heard the words of Godís truth from the mouth of the holy Son of God. Judas was taught by the best Teacher ever born of woman. He heard the very best sermons delivered. He witnessed many miracles performed by the Son of God. Judas had even gone out and proclaimed the message of Christ, and had performed miracles and cast out demons in Hs Name.
Yet this man, part of the trusted circle of the Twelve, betrays his Lord with a kiss. While he gives an outward appearance of devotion, he hands over the Son of Man to suffering and death.
How greatly he fell! And we should take warning, from this dark example. Judas was bound by his greed for silver, yet we each have desires that can lead us astray. Even if we were not too readily influenced by money and worldly goods, there are other desires by which we can be enticed.
Judas also was inhabited by satan, yet that serpent can easily lead any one of us into crooked paths. There is in each of us a corrupt nature that wants to betray.
Let us not be prideful of our spirituality, no matter how far we think we have come, or how much we think we have listened to and inwardly digested the divine Word. We should never forget that pride cometh before the fall. There is no one, this side of the Resurrection, who is not vulnerable to stumble into deep transgression, yes, and even into unbelief and damnation, as Judas did.
This is a danger even for those who kiss Christ, that is, who outwardly show Him the love that is due Him. There is hypocrisy and sin in every human heart that praises Christ in worship. That must sadly be true for us sinners, and only His Blood can cleanse our service so that it is an acceptable aroma unto Him. Yet we must battle against our own hypocrisy and impurity. We must constantly confess it in sadness and receive His absolution. May He cleanse us ever more by His Spirit to serve Him in purity.
So do not be secure in yourself. Be humble before God. Flee to Him with fear and trembling. He alone is your safe refuge, and will receive you with mercy.
Christ had to endure this betrayal by Judas. He saw it coming. He could have surely avoided it, yet did not. He willingly felt the sting of a close friendís treachery, so that He could redeem us.
As Josephís brothers sold him into slavery for silver, Christ was sold for us. So He, our spiritual Joseph, was delivered into the hands of Gentiles to do with as they liked. Even as He was treated shamefully, He worked to save us from death. For the Son of Man was Godís plan for the spiritual famine of mankindís sinfulness, a famine that would destroy all people. Now all who come in faith receive Him who is the Bread of Life that they may not die eternally.
May the Lord keep us in His gift of faith.
What Saint Peter lacks in treachery, he makes up for in violence. Completely forgetting His Masterís instruction that it is necessary that the Son of Man must suffer many things, Peter decides that it is up to him to be the hero who will save Christ.
By doing so, he unwittingly takes the same tactic used by the mob who came at Jesus with spears and clubs. The soldiers and those who sent them believed that they were defending the kingdom of God with their brute force.
So with brutish clumsiness, men flail about in their attempts to make things right. Meanwhile, the Prince of Peace in gentleness and humility allows Himself to be taken, although He could defend Himself with all power in heaven and on earth.
There is a time and place for violence in a God-pleasing fashion. But the righteous use of the sword belongs to government. Nether the soldiers nor Peter got this right. But Christ withheld force, when He was both authorized and righteous. For it was Godís plan that unrighteous violence be inflicted upon His Son, in order to fulfill all righteousness.
Sometimes we try to make things right. Sometimes we think we are the hero who will save the church. Sometimes we strike out clumsily, perhaps not with physical violence, but in other ways, perhaps with misguided words or with well-intentioned deeds. We should remember that we do not save the church. Only one Man in history could do that. When we try to make everything right in the kingdom, then things get messy real fast. Sometimes a severed ear seems preferable to some of the tangled and painful situations that result from trying to make things right in the church.
By all means, try to act right, that is, try to obey the commandments. But remember that you are not the hero. The church will not be saved by you. God will guard and protect what is His in His time and His way.
Even in the midst of the violence of sinful men, Christ had time for compassion. He healed the severed ear of the servant of the high priest. Here we see love for an enemy. We see the tender heart of the Savior who came to make atonement for a world full of enemies.
We see also that He has complete control of the situation. The soldiers with their weapons do not have control. Not even the forces of darkness have control. Even in the hour when darkness seems to triumph, Christ is still the Son of God, who can stop everything to show mercy.
All these events unfolded according to Godís careful plan. Everything that the darkness did ultimately served Godís purpose. His purpose was the hill outside Jerusalem, and the Cross, and the nails and thorns.
So Christ continued onward through the darkness. He did not allow fears to deter Him. He did not allow the spears or clubs of men to intimidate Him. He did not even let His own clumsy disciples stop His purpose. Christ would let nothing prevent Him from doing what He must do. He would let nothing get in the way until He had suffered all that was required, and had shed His precious Blood, and had breathed His last breath for you and for me.
That goal was His purpose from before the beginning of the world, when He predestined His elect for salvation. He saw you, and was determined that He would pay the price to atone for your sins, and the sins of all the world. He would save you, regardless of the cost to Himself.
Therefore, what could stop the Son of Man from completing His task, set in place before time and space existed? Nothing in heaven or on earth is His equal. No obstacle can frustrate the compulsion of His love for you.
He allowed the violent hands of men to seize Him and carry Him away as a criminal. He accepted the kiss of a friend betraying Him into death. He even allowed the darkness to have its hour, and to inflict its worst upon Him.
This is the love of Christ for you.
In His Name. Amen.
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