Grace, mercy, and peace be unto you from God our Father and
from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Brothers and sisters, the text is from the gospel reading,
Judas’ betrayal. You and I were raised in a way that a standard was kept that
said, if you take something from someone, you have to give it back if it’s not
yours. You return that which is not yours. If you break it, you buy it. If you
do something wrong, you go back and make it right again. And such a standard is
laudable, but the problem occurs when that standard is applied to your
relationship with your God.
In the garden when Adam and Eve had sinned and they were
ashamed and their eyes were open and they could view each other’s nakedness,
not with glory and honor to God and not the slightest bit of an ill thought,
now all of a sudden, there is nothing but ill thoughts that come through their
mind as they look upon one another’s nakedness, meant by God to be glory of His
great creation, now corrupt, bent, and warped by man’s sin.
So they decided to fix it themselves and covered themselves
with fig leaves, which functionally did cover their nakedness and which
functionally helped them in their mind’s thoughts not to wonder and so on. But
it didn’t take care of guilt, and it didn’t take care of the shame in here.
That still raged, and though they could say to themselves, “We’ve covered
ourselves; it should all be good to go,” yet it still lingered, nagging like an
King David who wrote the psalm that we read together….King
David had tried to cover up and fix his sin, too. Remember, he had sinned with
Bathsheba, and she had conceived a child out of wedlock. He had had to have
Uriah murdered so that then he could rightfully marry Bathsheba and the child would
look as if it was his child, honorably conceived in the wedding bed. And yet,
God loved David so much, He would send someone to prick David’s conscience,
namely, Nathan the prophet, the preacher. And having had his conscience
pricked, David realized that he could not cover up his sin. No matter how good
he looked on the outside as if everything was copacetic, he knew still inside.
But it didn’t end there; did it? David had to wrestle with
that guilt for the rest of his life. Each time he looked out at the Kidron
Valley, he would see. “There’s the grave of the child that died at seven days,
bore to me by Bathsheba. There’s the grave of my son Absalom who lies dead in
that grave because of my sin.” Every day nagging at him and beating upon that
door, no matter how he looked on the outside as the king of Israel. With what
did he fight such guilt and shame? How did he fix what he had started?
For Adam and Eve if you remember, before God had completely
removed them from the Garden, He clothed them with animal skin. He sacrificed
an animal and brought death, the first death of anything that God had created,
in order to bring covering for His people. But you tell me, where is the
difference? A fig leaf? Animal skin? Both functionally cover, but one is different,
because one was not of the creation of Adam and Eve and one was. One was
dictated to Adam and Eve and given the stamp of approval by God for their sake
to point them toward the One born of a woman who would crush the head of Satan
who would have to die bearing such guilt and bearing such shame. It is the
same, same God who covered David with the absolution of Nathan. “The Lord has
taken away your sin, David,” which words were the only thing that Nathan had
proclaimed to David that David could cling to for hope of cleansing, which
brings us to Judas.
He gets such a bad reputation as if he is worse than Peter
who denied Christ three times, worse than James and John who argued as to who
would be the greatest and could sit at the right or left hand of Christ, worse
than Matthew the tax collector, and yet Judas’ sin of betrayal of Christ for
thirty pieces of silver is still a damnable sin and still carries with it the
same guilt that Peter wrestled with and that James and John wrestled with and
that Andrew wrestled with and Matthew and the rest. Just like the guilt that
you and I wrestle with.
Why then did Judas allow himself to be so overwhelmed that
he would commit suicide? And having committed suicide, you tell me, if these
words could not have possibly flown and spewed forth from the mouths of the
other apostles. “Tsk, tsk, tsk, tsk, tsk. Judas, Judas.” If it wasn’t spoken,
it was at least thought, because being sinful human beings as you and me, that
thought had to have crept in in their minds as judgment was rendered from their
own lips of the one who had been overwhelmed so severely he would despair of
Christ’s forgiveness. And yet, his sin was no different nor no more
guilt-ridden than Peter’s and, in fact, the other ten apostles as well who had abandoned
Him, leaving Him, denying Him by their very action, if not with words. So when
he tries to fix it, that is, Judas, by returning the silver, thinking that that
would expunge his guilt, fix what he had done wrong, he is met with the words
of Satan, the words of your flesh and my flesh, “See to it yourself. You fix
it. We have nothing to do with the silver you’re returning to us.”
In your and my life, guilt will come and maybe we’ve been
able to beat back guilt with comparing ourselves to others, forgetting all the
while there but by the grace of God go we. Or maybe we’ve dealt with it by
trying to right the wrong and fix it and act in a different way with that
individual or person or give more money or be more active or however you and I
wish to try to expunge our own mind and heart of guilt. Pray more. Be at church
more. It never seems to get rid of it the way that only God can get rid of it
in Christ, for there are only two repositories for such guilt. Your shoulders,
which will crush you just like it did David until he finally submitted to God,
just like it did Adam and Eve until they came clean with God, just like it did
to Peter. Or it can rest on Christ’s shoulders and crush Him and bring Him to
death. Or see to it yourself. Which one?
In the name of Jesus, Amen.
The peace of God which passes all understanding keep your
hearts and your minds on Christ Jesus to life everlasting.