“Then Judas, His betrayer,….was remorseful…saying, ‘I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.’ And they said ‘What is that to us? You see to it!’ Then he departed and went and hanged himself” Matthew 27: 4,5
“Woe to you…For you load men with burdens hard to bear and you, yourselves do not touch the burdens with one of your fingers.” Luke 11:46
“But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you.” Matthew 5:44
You’ve made your bed, now you’re going to have to sleep in it! Those responsible should have to pay! There’s a commercial out from an insurance company that has “rate suckers” that is people who’s bad driving record drives up everyone else’s rates! Over and over again there seems to be a desperate cry in today’s society to differentiate the blamed, separate out the wrong doers, isolate and punish the responsible. There is a moaning and groaning taking place all throughout society concerning the lack of accountability; the lack of condemnation for wrongdoing, the need for harsher judgement. Even in the church, too often we seek to want to divide out the “wicked” based on our definition and cast them from our midst.
I think if I listen hard enough, I can hear the groaning that might be happening as you are reading this post (if you haven’t already clicked off). Yet I’d ask you to understand this; I am not “anti-casting”. That is so say, I believe that there is evil and wickedness and that we should not sugar coat its existence nor try to justify it in some way. Also understand, scripture is very clear; Sodom and Gomorrah, Pharaoh, the priests of Baal, King Saul, Ananias plus Sapphira his wife in the Book of Acts and yes Judas were all held accountable; were all destroyed. However, notice Who destroyed them; Who passed judgement on them; Who it was, Who had the unstoppable judgement of condemnation; Our Heavenly Father.
Yes, the world has much wickedness in it, much hatred and pain. Yet here’s the question for us Dear Sisters and Brothers: What’s that got to do with us? We, who have found a peace and joy, in the midst of trouble, that surpasses all understanding; What have we to do with this unbelieving world? I believe Jesus Christ would answer to us: Everything. You see Dear Sisters and Brothers, one of the things that strikes me about the account in Matthew 27 about Judas, is that Matthew says that Judas was remorseful. Now whether it was true repentance or the attempt of some earthly dodge I can’t say. Yet in some sense Judas was sorry for what he had done. So where was Judas to turn? Where would someone go who wanted to find forgiveness and/or some aspect of redemption? Would they not, at that time had gone to the synagogue? Would they not today come to our church; or at least seek out a believer?
But what if our response is like the response of the leaders of the synagogue: “What is that to us? You see to it.” What if we were to either outright say to them or at the very least imply; you got yourself into this so it’s up to you to get yourself out of it? What if we gave them the impression that we were a group of saved, righteous people who can only be joined by other already saved, righteous people? I don’t believe Jesus Christ would be pleased. I believe He might address us by saying “Woe to you………!” I believe He’d be likely to include us with the Pharisees, Sadducees and lawyers of the time He was on earth, calling them and us hypocrites. Explaining to us that we were piling burdens on the hurting, shutting up the kingdom against them, yet by our own actions not entering in ourselves either.
What has it to do with us? Everything! Why? First because, to any extent that we might call ourselves or be called righteous, it is a gift of Grace from Almighty God. We have not earned our salvation. Our salvation was a gift freely given by Jesus Christ to us while we were yet sinners as well. God’s Grace, not our innate goodness, is the only difference between us and the world. Second, Jesus did it. We must remember that so much of, if not the majority of Jesus’ time on earth was spent in the company of sinners. I imagine that we think that those were rather harmless sinners, maybe a few lies, some petty thefts, but from the intense reaction of revulsion that the Jewish leaders had, I think there were some people we’d put in the “pretty disgusting” category. While we hardly scoff at adultery today as a society, back then it was a capital offense, yet Jesus forgave it; did not trivialize it, but forgave it.
So where are the hurting to turn today? Where are the remorseful to go? How would those who are mad at God or who, today, are against any and all precepts of God ever get any sense that they have not burned all bridges with God? Where might they be able to look to, to see that God still loves them today; still longs to forgive them and have a loving relationship with them? Would it not start with the very people who say they are children of God? Would it not start with you and I, desiring nothing more than to be like Christ, earnestly attempting all we can to bring love and peace into their lives?
Finally, Dear Sisters and Brothers, do not think that this is either easy or able to be accomplished solely (or souly) on our own. Should we try to have the love of Christ, the forgiveness and grace of Christ without abiding in Christ; we will fall back to our worldly judging ways. Yet we have a Heavenly Father who does not want us to fail in this. We have a Heavenly Father who is willing to send us a wise counselor of infinite strength; the Holy Spirit to reside in us and through Jesus Christ accomplish the love, even and especially for our enemies, that He desires us to have. If you have ever had the experience of going on a service mission trip as I have, you’ll experience and witness the pain of people hurting. Yet even then, the joy and peace of being able to share the Love of Jesus Christ with them will so surpass the sense of worldly hurt that you see around you. What has this to do with us? By and in the Grace of our Heavenly Father; everything.
Our most Gracious Heavenly Father, we humbly proclaim that it is only through Your Grace that we are saved and have come to know You. Forgive us when we believe in our own righteousness and turn our backs on those we deem to be less worthy. Pour out Your Spirit upon us that we would have the strength to love our enemies, help those who are hurting even if they do not follow you, risking persecution and ridicule in this world. Bless us with Your Favor as we try to be beacons of Your Light, shining on this dark world. We pray this in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen