Archive for February 2014

The Betrayal of Judas   4 comments

Judas' Betrayal

Judas’ Betrayal

I was wondering why Jesus used this word “betrayal” to express what Judas did. I saw in a dictionary, that the name of Judas was even used to define this word “betray”. Why did he earn this bad reputation throughout the millenniums? What has he done that it led authors of the gospel tag Judas as a traitor?

The reason the bible gives is this:

Then Judas Iscariot, one of the twelve disciples, went to the leading priests and asked, “How much will you pay me to betray Jesus to you?” And they gave him thirty pieces of silver. From that time on, Judas began looking for an opportunity to betray Jesus.” Mat. 26:14-15

First of all, the fact that he went to the leading priests to make a deal was the betrayal. The money was a secondary issue. Jesus loved Judas. Did not Jesus wash his feet with much love?

We read in John : “He had loved his disciples during his ministry on earth, and now he loved them to the very end.” John 13:1

Peter said about Judas : “He was one of our number and shared in our ministry.” Acts 1:17

Jesus did not love Judas less even though He knew what Judas would do. He considered Judas a closed friend. Friendship and a loving relationship cannot exist without trust. Giving one’s trust is a prerequisite for a healthy relationship to build. Jesus gave Judas His trust, unconditional love and affection even though He knew what would Judas do. I had a friend whom I loved dearly and for whom I invested myself a lot. This friend never realized my commitment and love. Though I felt this rejection, I continued to help that person in times of need. Until today, this friend never realized the sincerity of my friendship. Don’t you think Jesus was sincere?

When the leading priests sent a crowd of armed people to arrest Jesus, we read:

The traitor, Judas, had given them a prearranged signal: “You will know which one to arrest when I greet him with a kiss.” So Judas came straight to Jesus. “Greetings, Rabbi!” he exclaimed and gave him the kiss.Jesus said, “My friend, go ahead and do what you have come for.” Mat. 26:47

Even my close friend, whom I trusted, he who shared my bread, has lifted up his heel against me” Psalm 41:9

This is how Jesus felt. “How could you do that my friend Judas“? You are destroying our friendship and betraying my love?

Judas called Jesus Rabbi or teacher, he did not call Him Lord or friend. His kiss was as poisonous as the bite of a snake.

Imagine that you did your very best to love your spouse. You sacrificed yourself and worked hard to please him/her. Your spouse kissed you before leaving in the morning and in the afternoon, you see her/him coming with a concubine  and a  mob of bandits to murder you because you were a rich man/woman. How would you feel at that instant? The Pharisees often insulted Jesus and gave Him a hard time. Jesus also rebuked and condemned them many times. Were not these people the same ones who accused the holy one of heaven of being demon possessed? Jesus never called them friends.

How could you, Judas, go and meet such evil people” ?

Judas’ presence among these people was itself a betrayal. He served as a guide to those who arrested Jesus (Acts 1:16). Judas never loved Jesus even though Jesus did. He did not understand who Jesus really was and His love for him.

When Mary came and anointed the feet of Jesus with an expensive perfume, we read:

But Judas Iscariot, the disciple who would soon betray him, said,“That perfume was worth a year’s wages.It should have been sold and the money given to the poor.” Not that he cared for the poor—he was a thief, and since he was in charge of the disciples’ money, he often stole some for himself.” John 12:4-6

For him Jesus was not worth that perfume. Money is the root of all evils the bible says. Judas was blinded by greed that he even stole from the contributions of the disciples. The devil used this weakness of Judas to lead him to betray Jesus. Did not Jesus many times teach about the danger of the love of money? Judas loved money more than Jesus.

No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money” Mat. 6:24

I think Jesus would have been crucified even if Judas did not participate. Most people knew Jesus and it should not have been difficult to find someone to lead the priest to arrest Jesus.

But what was Judas’ role in this plot?

We read: “The leading priests and elders were meeting at the residence of Caiaphas, the high priest, plotting how to capture Jesus secretly and kill him. “But not during the Passover celebration,” they agreed, “or the people may riot.” Mat 26:3-5

Judas knew the times the meetings with the disciples were going on and where. He was trying to find the perfect opportunity to lead the priests to arrest Jesus secretly in order to avoid a riot. Judas did it late at night while Jesus was praying in agony in the garden Gethsemane away on Mount Of Olives. So Judas proposed his help to capture Jesus secretly and kill him outside the Passover celebrations.

This greed of money made Judas lose his senses. This was spiritual adultery. It took not much time when he realized what he did. But it was too late. When he got that money, he was filled with shame and disgust. He betrayed an innocent man, someone who loved him. Maybe at this time he looked back at all the loving scenes Jesus did and his eyes of love. No one could help him face this guilt. This very thing he loved more than His master, he threw away. His love for money broke his relationship with Jesus and caused him to commit suicide.

When Judas, who had betrayed him, realized that Jesus had been condemned to die, he was filled with remorse. So he took the thirty pieces of silver back to the leading priests and the elders.“I have sinned,” he declared, “for I have betrayed an innocent man.”“What do we care?” they retorted. “That’s your problem.”Then Judas threw the silver coins down in the Temple and went out and hanged himself.” Mat 27:3

The priests themselves saw this payment for betrayal an unholy thing. They would not even put that money in the temple. They said:

The leading priests picked up the coins. “It wouldn’t be right to put this money in the Temple treasury,” they said, “since it was payment for murder.”After some discussion they finally decided to buy the potter’s field, and they made it into a cemetery for foreigners.” Mat. 27:6

Many times we behave like Judas by associating ourselves with people who do not honor Jesus. We want to ignore Jesus’ love and teachings. We are ready to sacrifice our friendship and relationship with Jesus because of money, work, family or desires.  Judas had weaknesses. It is easy to point the finger to Judas, but what about us? Do we value the love Jesus has for us or shall we turn away from Him?

Jesus radically said: “Anyone who isn’t with me opposes me, and anyone who isn’t working with me is actually working against me.” Mat. 12:30

 

The scripture also says about Jesus that “He is ready to separate the chaff from the wheat with his winnowing fork. Then he will clean up the threshing area, gathering the wheat into his barn but burning the chaff with never-ending fire.” Mat. 3:12

Jesus will also separate the people as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will place the sheep at his right hand and the goats at his left. Mat. 25:31

Many claim to know God like the Pharisees but their way of living, speaking and thinking deny their profession:

Such people claim they know God, but they deny him by the way they live. They are detestable and disobedient, worthless for doing anything good.” Titus 1:16

 

Posted February 8, 2014 by Cedric in My writings (English)

Tagged with , , , , , , ,

Enduring Faith   1 comment

Enduring Faith

Enduring Faith

Dear woman, Jesus said to her, “your faith is great. Your request is granted.” And her daughter was instantly healed.” Mat. 15:28

This was a Canaanite woman who came to Jesus. She was from the region of Tyre and Sidon from which Jesus said:

Then Jesus began to denounce the towns where he had done so many of his miracles, because they hadn’t repented of their sins and turned to God. “What sorrow awaits you, Korazin and Bethsaida! For if the miracles I did in you had been done in wicked Tyre and Sidon, their people would have repented of their sins long ago, clothing themselves in burlap and throwing ashes on their heads to show their remorse. I tell you, Tyre and Sidon will be better off on judgment day than you.” Mat. 11:20

The people in Tyre and Sidon did not see the many miracles Jesus did for the Jews but still we see a woman from that region having such a great faith in Jesus. The Jews rejected Jesus and did not believe in Him even though He did so many miracles. The Jews heard the very Word of God and yet they accused Jesus of being demon possessed. How is it possible that a woman who had less understanding than the Pharisees believed in Jesus so mightily? Or what about the Roman officer to whom Jesus said he had the greatest faith in all Israel?

I tell you the truth, I haven’t seen faith like this in all Israel! And I tell you this, that many Gentiles will come from all over the world—from east and west—and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob at the feast in the Kingdom of Heaven. But many Israelites—those for whom the Kingdom was prepared—will be thrown into outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Mat. 8:10

It is a sad truth that a mind can be filled up with doctrines and theological knowledge and the heart still faithless. This was the case for the Pharisees. They were blinded by their knowledge. It was obvious to those who had little knowledge of the scripture to discern the Messiah. Just a few information about Jesus was enough to make people far away from God recognize the Messiah.  But why is it that the experts in religion failed to acknowledge the Messiah? Knowledge without faith leads to pride, spiritual blindness and evil actions.

What made that woman earn this reputation in faith?

1. She insisted even if she was not a Jew to bother Jesus as she was convinced that only Jesus could help her. It is important to note that Jews despised Gentiles and had no relation with them. Despite this social conflict, she still decided to come to Him.

2. When she came she started to plead Jesus to heal her daughter. It was not just a silent request. It was a determined effort. But what happened ?

Matthew tells us:

But Jesus gave her no reply, not even a word. Then his disciples urged him to send her away. “Tell her to go away,” they said. “She is bothering us with all her begging.”

Jesus gave her no reply, not even a word telling her He heard her. This should have been enough to discourage this woman. She could have given up and said, “I tried to talk to Jesus but He did not want to listen to me

3. Not only Jesus did not reply her but the disciples around were trying to get rid of her. The disciple urged Jesus to send her away. No one likes to feel that he/she is a source of discomfort. This woman saw that the disciples of Jesus were also rejecting her and felt bothered by her presence. How many of us would have given up at this point? I guess many of us.

4. Finally Jesus replied and said:

Then Jesus said to the woman, I was sent only to help God’s lost sheep—the people of Israel.”

That was a clear message now. Jesus Himself said that she was not part of God’s plan. It was His mission to save the Israelites and not Gentiles. Most probably, I would have personally given up at this point. Why should she continue bothering Jesus if she was not on His agenda?

5. Now what was amazing was that “she came and worshiped him, pleading again, Lord, help me!”. I can’t understand such a faith. Maybe her daughter was so tormented by the devil that it gave her guts to persist till that point. Jesus was the only one she knew who could deliver her daughter. Now we clearly see that she did not come just to receive a blessing or miracle, she came and worshiped Jesus before everyone.  Very few people at that time would dare worshiping Jesus publicly. This could have been considered blasphemy. She knew in her heart that Jesus was God. Very few Jews at that time could believe that. So yes, she continued to plead asking Jesus to help her. She had reverence.

6. So once again Jesus responded, “It isn’t right to take food from the children and throw it to the dogs.”

How far could she take in this rejection? Here, we see Jesus explaining her again that He cannot give spiritual blessings to those who did not deserve it. Spiritual blessings were for the children. Jesus could not waste it on Gentiles who were not God’s people. She could have been offended by that hard statement and fumed away in anger. This woman had humility and respect. She did not retort as would have done a Pharisee. She considered Jesus as Lord.

7. She then replied, “That’s true, Lord, but even dogs are allowed to eat the scraps that fall beneath their masters’ table.”

She excelled at this point. First she agreed with what Jesus said. Secondly she was humble to admit that she did not deserve anything as she was not part of God’s children. She took at word Jesus’ statement and said that she would be satisfied of a crumb that fell down. She literally lowered herself like an animal – a dog. She agreed she was inferior, she respected Jesus’ statement but added that she will be contented with the rest. How many of us would have behaved like this woman? She had such a hunger for spiritual blessings that she would take any pieces of spiritual blessings left over. Many times we take our spiritual blessings for granted. This woman valued much this blessing.

She wisely answered Jesus. She worshiped Jesus, showed evidence of her faith, demonstrated humility, gentleness, reverence, patience, wisdom, respect and perseverance.

It paid out. Jesus said:

Dear woman,Jesus said to her, “your faith is great. Your request is granted.” And her daughter was instantly healed.”

This was a huge lesson for the disciples and the Jews around. Throughout the scripture, we see that faith in God is something He takes pleasure in to the point that even mountains He is willing to move because of our faith.

Posted February 6, 2014 by Cedric in My writings (English)

Tagged with , , , , , , ,

The sign of Jonah   Leave a comment

Sign of Jonah

Sign of Jonah

One day some teachers of religious law and Pharisees came to Jesus and said, “Teacher, we want you to show us a miraculous sign to prove your authority.”But Jesus replied, “Only an evil, adulterous generation would demand a miraculous sign; but the only sign I will give them is the sign of the prophet Jonah.” Mat 12:38,39

Most probably, the reason these Pharisees came were not to believe in Jesus. They have seen sufficient miracles previously and they hardened their hearts. They acknowledged the miracles Jesus did and blamed Him for healing on the sabbath day. They also dared to say that Jesus was demon possessed and casted out demons through Satan. Jesus said in Mat 11:21-23 that if Sodom, Tyre and Sidon saw these miracles they would have repented. Jesus had in front of him hardened hearts that would not repent no matter what miracles were done. It was God Himself who preached during all these years on the land of Israel. It was not a mere man like Moses or Isaiah. Jesus preached what was exactly required to bring souls to repentance. But still, people refused to believe in Him and He was rejected.

Jesus would therefore not bend to the request of the Pharisees. With all the knowledge they had, they should have been the first to repent and draw the land of Israel to the Messiah. Jesus already knew their hearts and motives. No, He would not in any way grant this request. Should God almighty prove His authority for men to believe in Him, is not His existence sufficient? Should our Lord do miracles for us to believe in Him? Believe in Him first then hopefully a miracle can follow. Many times we want God to do miracles and show signs in order for us to have faith in Him. Let Him have your heart first because drawing out a list of wants!

In other translation it says “Only an evil, faithless generation would ask for a miracle sign“.  Do you understand that faith precedes your desires? God is not a genie whose tasks is to perform signs and wonders to entertain men. God is not our servant, we are His servants. Jesus healed the sick and demon possessed as a respond to their faith.

What did Jesus say to Martha?

Didn’t I tell you that you would see God’s glory if you believe?” John 11:40

Why do we expect to see God’s glory, miracles and His power with a faithless heart? Believe first, trust Him then if God wills it, He can grant a blessing. God is not indebted to us to prove His authority through miracles.The miracle that would be granted, the essential one, would be His death and resurrection. What does man need more to believe in the Son of God? The sign of Jonah is a powerful sign from God that the crucified and risen Son is God’s appointed Savior.

Therefore, ahead of time, no man shall be able to blame God for his unbelief.

What happened in the wilderness for 40 years? Did not God do miracles in Egypt to prove through signs and wonders His power? Why is it then that God judged the Israelites (Num. 14:11)? It was because of their unbelief. Unbelief is a gross sin. God did miracles to draw these Israelite to Him but they still had an unbelieving heart.

God said:

How long will these people treat me with contempt? Will they never believe me, even after all the miraculous signs I have done among them?not one of these people will ever enter that land… They have all seen my glorious presence and the miraculous signs I performed both in Egypt and in the wilderness, but again and again they have tested me by refusing to listen to my voice.” Num 14:11,22

The whole generation perished in the wilderness (Heb 3:16-19) because of unbelief. These Israelites were following Moses in the wilderness because they ate manna, meat and saw miracles in Egypt. When these miracles were withdrawn, here they were complaining! Why is it then? They followed God because of miracles and not because they personally believed in Him. They blamed Moses for bringing them in the wilderness to perish. This remark clearly showed that they had not the promised land in mind. They were just surviving without any hope. However, Moses, Joshua and Caleb continued to believe in God through tough times even there were no miracles.

But did not Gideon (Judges 6:17) and Hezekiah (2 Kings 20) asked for signs? They did and that these people were commended by God for their faith (Hebrews 11:32, 2 Kings 20:2). It was their faith which made them ask for signs.

In John 6:26-31, the crowd came to Jesus after they were fed by Him. Jesus said:

I tell you the truth, you want to be with me because I fed you, not because you understood the miraculous signs. ”

Do you see the danger of following Jesus because of miracles? Miracles can help catching the attention of unbelievers. However, we should be careful that it is not the basis of our faith in Christ.

The crowd said to Jesus: “We want to perform God’s works, too. What should we do?”Jesus told them, “This is the only work God wants from you: Believe in the one he has sent.”

Once gain we see man’s nature to want to experience before trusting.  Jesus put it clear that what God wants is to “Believe in the one he has sent”. This is the prerequisite.

It seemed they did not understand Jesus’ reply and the people said again:

Show us a miraculous sign if you want us to believe in you. What can you do?After all, our ancestors ate manna while they journeyed through the wilderness! The Scriptures say, ‘Moses gave them bread from heaven to eat.’”

God confirmed He was with Moses when He gave bread from heaven to the ancestors. So in order to challenge Jesus authority, the Jews were asking Jesus to show evidence that He was called by God by doing a miracle. Jesus had just given them bread and fish and its astonishing why the Jews asked for a new sign.

Jesus then said that He is the bread of life that would be able to satisfy them.

The people of Nineveh will stand up against this generation on judgment day and condemn it, for they repented of their sins at the preaching of Jonah. Now someone greater than Jonah is here—but you refuse to repent.” Mat 12:41

Posted February 6, 2014 by Cedric in Theology

Tagged with , , , , ,