Friday, July 27, 2012

Matthew 22-28

All passages from NKJV.

Matthew 22:36-40
"Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the law?"
Jesus said to him, "'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets."

Loving others as yourself does not mean surrendering all sense of self. It does not mean subjugating yourself entirely to the whims of others. It does not mean always putting your own needs and desires aside to care for others. It means giving people grace, believing in the best, leaving room for error and for growth. It means reserving judgement, listening, giving, receiving, and occasionally sacrificing. Sometimes it means tough love. Sometimes it means indulgence. Never does it mean emotional manipulation or abuse. Love God, love others. Everything else hangs on this, flows from this.

Matthew 24:23-28, 36
"Then if anyone says to you, 'Look, here is the Christ!' or 'There!' do not believe it. For false Christs and false prophets will arise and show great signs and wonders, so as to deceive, if possible, even the elect. See, I have told you beforehand. Therefore, if they say to you, 'Look, He is in the desert!' do not go out; or 'Look, He is in the inner rooms!' do not believe it. For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be . . . But of that day and hour no one knows, no, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only."

Two words: Harold Camping.

Matthew 26:54, 27:3-5, 9-10
"How then could the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must happen thus?"
. . .
Then Judas, His betrayer, seeing that He had been condemned, was remorseful and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, saying, "I have sinned by betraying innocent blood." And they said, "What is that to us? You see to it!" Then he threw down the pieces of silver in the temple and departed, and went and hanged himself.
. . .
Then was fulfilled what was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet, saying, "And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the value of Him who was priced, whom they of the children of Israel priced, and gave them for the potter's field, as the Lord directed me."

When i was in high school, i took a public speaking class. One of our assignments was to choose a villain, either historical or fictional, and write a speech defending them. We had to dress as the villain and defend ourselves to the class, explaining why our actions were right or excusable.

Most people chose Disney villains, like Captain Hook or Cruella DeVille. I chose Judas.

My argument boiled down to two points: in order for salvation to come and for the will of God to be done on Earth, Jesus had to die; in order for Jesus to die, someone had to hand Him in. This had been prophesied for generations, including a prophecy by Jesus Himself earlier that same night. It is pretty clear from the story that Jesus bears no ill will toward Judas, and that He understood what needed to happen.

The second point was this: Judas clearly showed remorse. In one version of the story, God removed His presence from Judas and allowed him to be influenced by Satan (Luke 22:3-6). In all versions, Judas tries to return the money and then kills himself. In "!Hero: the Rock Opera", Judas doesn't know he is handing Jesus over to death. He thinks he's just helping Jesus jump-start his career and gain the recognition and fame He deserves. I don't know what was going through Judas' mind when he went to the chief priests and asked how much money Jesus was worth to them. I don't know what he thought when he witnessed Jesus' arrest. But i do know these two things: Jesus had to be betrayed, and Judas suffered remorse.

At the conclusion of my speech, one of the homeschool moms who was co-teaching the class cornered me to talk about my speech. She asked if I really believed that what Judas did was okay, or if I just did this for the assignment. I don't think i really answered her, saying something like, "It's not up to me to judge," and "I'm not saying what he did was okay, but if he hadn't done it none of us would know Christ today, and he was obviously sorry about it." She didn't want to hear any of that. She just wanted to hear that Judas would burn in Hell. The conversation ended when she told me she would pray for my soul and then walked away.

Read the above passages. Go ahead and read them in context if you want. Read the other three Gospel accounts of this event (Mark 14:10-21, 43-50, Luke 22:3-23, 47-53, John 13:21-30, 18:1-11, Acts 1:16-19). I'm not saying that betrayal of ANYONE is EVER okay. I'm just saying it had to happen, and he was sorry, and you're not the one who gets to judge anyway, so cut him a break, okay?

Matthew 28:1-10

I just like to point out that the first people to see the empty tomb and the resurrected Christ, and the first people to be directly commissioned by Christ to preach the good news, were women. So suck on that, bigoted sexist church leaders who say women can't speak!

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