Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Day 43: Judas plots the Savior’s arrest - Matt. 26:14-16

Then one of the Twelve—the one called Judas Iscariot—went to the chief priests 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. From then on Judas watched for an opportunity to hand him over.

Judas was one of the Twelve. For three years Judas lived and walked and talked with the Son of God. What a tragedy – from one of the Twelve belonging to Jesus to one of the defiant unbelievers belonging to Satan. What went wrong?

Judas let his greed for money consume his spirit. He was the treasurer for the Twelve – and a dishonest one (John 12:5, 6). Judas' greed became so obsessive that his love for Jesus was replaced by a love for money. Judas heard the preaching of Jesus, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal” (Matthew 6:19). However, Judas’ heart was taken over by an incessant greed for “treasures on earth.” His unbelieving, greedy heart became so calloused against the Lord that he was willing to betray Jesus into the murderous hands of enemies for the price of thirty pieces of silver.

In the Old Testament, when Achan defied God’s command by wrongfully taking a beautiful robe, silver and gold, he brought God's wrath down on the nation of Israel. Achan was stoned to death and the place was called "The Valley of Achor (trouble)." This happened just after the fall of Jericho as the Israelites were entering Canaan (Joshua 7:20-26). As the years went by, many of the people were lured away from God and worshipped the false gods of Canaan. But centuries later, in Hosea 2:15, God says "I will make the Valley of Achor into a door of hope." He pointed ahead to the promised Savior he was going to send. By leading us to faith in Jesus, God takes away the trouble of sin and he gives us hope of living with God forever in peace and joy.

Jesus didn't tempt Judas to sin. He didn't force Judas to sin. He didn't approve of Judas' sin. But by allowing Judas' betrayal, Jesus entered into the critical stage of his mission for coming to this world – to suffer and die for the guilt of our sins. He brought about fulfillment of God’s plan of saving us from eternal death. In Jesus we have the fantastic wealth of the forgiveness of sins and the glorious riches of eternal life. Now we are free to follow him with all our heart and live to give our Savior lavish praise.

Merciful and everlasting God, You did not spare Your only Son but delivered Him up for us all to bear our sins on the cross. Grant that our hearts may be so fixed with steadfast faith in Him that we fear not the power of sin, death, and the devil; through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen

Schnorr von Carolsfeld woodcuts © WELS used by permission for private and congregational use
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 Biblica. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved
Collect for Wednesday of Holy Week - Lutheran Service Book © 2008 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis

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