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Lent is a time for Christians to fully examine their relationship with the Lord. Through prayer, sacrifice and service, we develop an understanding of what it means to "take up your cross and follow me." (Mark 8:34) As Christians, we are called to live Christ's life- not to study the life of Jesus and try to be like Him, but actually let Him live through us.

In my own journey this Lent, Our Lord is asking me to fully understand His love. Through several prayer experiences, I hear him calling me to this deeper understanding of His love- not just with my head, but with my heart. And the key to understanding that amazing love is to understand His suffering. My intellect understands that the Lord suffered, but I have never explored His suffering with my heart. His love is greater than His suffering, but how great was that suffering?

I am participating in an independent Threshold Bible Study called People of the Passion by Stephen J. Binz. In this study, I will explore the meaning of discipleship through the people who encounter Jesus during His passion. These people witness and are impacted by the suffering of Jesus. They saw the suffering of our Lord first hand. It is my hope that by going on this journey through their eyes, I will have a better understanding of His suffering and then of His love.

Please know that I am not a scholar. I have no formal education in theology, philosophy or church history. I'm just a regular person trying to make sense of what Jesus is asking me to do- to love like He loves.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Day 15- Judas Ends His Life with Remorse

Matthew 27:3-10

Then Judas, his betrayer, seeing that Jesus had been condemned, deeply regretted what he had done. He returned the thirty pieces of silver 3 to the chief priests and elders, saying, "I have sinned in betraying innocent blood." They said, "What is that to us? Look to it yourself." 4 Flinging the money into the temple, he departed and went off and hanged himself. The chief priests gathered up the money, but said, "It is not lawful to deposit this in the temple treasury, for it is the price of blood." After consultation, they used it to buy the potter's field as a burial place for foreigners. That is why that field even today is called the Field of Blood. Then was fulfilled what had been said through Jeremiah the prophet, 5 "And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the value of a man with a price on his head, a price set by some of the Israelites, and they paid it out for the potter's field just as the Lord had commanded me."

Here, we see Judas realize the gravity of the situation that he created.  Maybe he never meant for Jesus to be condemned to death.  As I discussed in an earlier post, maybe he was trying to force Jesus to start a rebellion.  Although we may not know Judas' goal for handing over Jesus, we do know that the outcome was not what he expected.  He played Russian roulette and lost.  Also, we will never know what was going through Judas' head when he decided to take his life.  We do know that taking a bribe to shed innocent blood was a serious offense in Israel (Det 27:25).  Maybe he thought his sin was too great. 

In his commentary, Binz compares and contrasts Peter and Judas.  Both men had sinned against the Lord.  Both men betrayed their Master.  Both men failed in their commitment to discipleship.  But their lives had very different outcomes.  Peter "wept bitterly" and threw himself on the mercy of God.  While Judas did not believe in the mercy Jesus taught him and in his desperate moment, he chose death.  Peter gave himself up to the will of God while Judas took matters into his own hands once again.

In my Catechism class, we just finished studying the sins against faith, hope and charity.  I was surprised to learn that it is a sin(against hope) to not believe that God will forgive your sins or to lose hope that He will grant you personal salvation.  I didn't realize those were actual sins.  I think there are a lot of people out there who fall into this category.  They think that the things they have done are so bad that there is no possible way they could be forgiven.  And that is their excuse to not ask for forgiveness.  Sometimes, that is their excuse to not go to church.  But the Jesus didn't teach that.  He taught that sins will be forgiven.  If we don't believe in that, then we are calling God a liar.  We are saying to him that he suffered and died on that cross for nothing.  Choosing not to believe in that forgiveness is offensive to God.

So, I guess, we have to choose.  Do we want to be like Peter or like Judas?  Do we surrender to God and find life or do we cave to despair and choose death?

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