Tuesday, April 7, 2009

That was Jesus, This is Judas

Yeah, I know you're tired of hearing it...but I'm gonna see U2 in Dublin in July. In preparation, I've been enjoying past concert DVD's. On the Elevation 2001: Live from Boston DVD, after U2 sings "Beautiful Day," Bono says, "Thank you, Jesus!" Then walks around near Larry and says, "This is Judas." Then they sing, "Until the End of the World." Since it is Holy Week, the song is very relevant.

The song is a one-way conversation between Judas and Jesus, Judas being the speaker. Judas talks about being down in the hold...the place reserved for him until the Judgment. He is talking about the last time he and Jesus were together...the Last Supper...the low-lit room. They were eating the Passover Feast, drinking the various cups of wine that told the story of the Passover and the Exodus.

Jesus was about to be the ultimate fulfillment of the Exodus story...He was about the shed the Red Sea of His own blood so that those who would place their trust in Him would be delivered forever out of the bondage of Egypt (sin and death). He was the Passover Lamb, slain so that the angel of eternal death would not come near those who believe.

Judas didn't believe it. Do we?

Judas agreed to betray Jesus for 30 pieces of silver...a detail prophesied hundreds of years before the event, recorded in Scripture. The lyrics remind us of how dangerous it is to just float through life..."you miss too much if you stop to think." Many people are so afraid of missing out on what life has to offer, they look at deep thinking concerning the claims of Christ or the spiritual life as a waste of time...or unfulfilling...just like Judas. The world says you miss too much if you stop to think; the Gospel says you miss everything if you fail to stop to think.

Judas loved the element of surprise and he led the priests and leaders to the Garden where Jesus was praying...and Judas betrayed Jesus with a kiss. It broke the heart of Jesus...It broke His heart because Jesus, who practiced what He preached, loved His enemies. The lyrics have Judas saying Jesus acted like the betrayal was the End of the World... Jesus knew that for Himself it was not...but for Judas, sadly, it was.

The lyrics, in agreement with Scripture, tell us Judas was filled with remorse, with regret...he was overcome with sorrow...yet Judas made a huge mistake...bigger than the betrayal...he didn't put his hope in the mercy of Christ. In his remorse, absent of faith, he gave in to hopelessness and took his own life, hanging himself.

Here we see a huge lesson in Grace: God can handle our betrayals...if we let Him...Judas didn't let Him. There is a huge difference between remorse and repentance. Repentance is sorrow for betrayal, but leads to fresh hope in mercy and grace. Remorse is simply regret, sorrow, and only leads to hopelessness and despair...and death.

Peter denied the Lord; he, like Judas, was filled with sorrow...but Peter didn't allow his sorrow to lead him to despair...he hoped in the Lord's mercy and went on to live a joyful, hopeful, fruitful life. For Judas, it was too late. Even the end of the world holds no hope for Judas...not because he was the betrayer, but because he failed to hope in the Red Sea of the Blood of Christ to deliver him from his bondage.

I am more like Judas than I care to admit, even as a pastor--we are ALL betrayers of Jesus through how we live each day--what we do or fail to do; what we say or fail to say; I am also more like Peter than I care to admit--We are ALL like Peter--deniers of Jesus throughout the hours of the day. I don't want to wait until the End of the World...I want to experience forgiveness of guilt, removal of shame, disappearance of self-condemnation here and now...and THAT is what Good Friday and Easter are all about...

no matter what we've done or where we've been, mercy and grace are free for the taking...as long as we don't wait until the end of the world.

1 comment:

Alan Matthews Photography said...

I completely agree that we are all Peter and we are all Judas everyday. How hard it is to face the ugliness of our sin and push through our (legitimate) guilt to cry out for mercy to the one who has offered it already. It is a lot of work. It seems easier sometimes to just accept sin as part of who we are rather than (constantly) facing that we are depraved daily. It is humbling and tiring to admit it but we sometimes find it so much easier to just blame someone else.