O Jesus, Savior of my life,
My hope, my joy, my sacrifice,
I’ve searched and found no other one
Who loves me more than you have done. (John 15:13)
No condemnation now I dread
Because you went for me instead
To bear the Father’s hell-bent rage,
To pay the debt I would have paid.
Yet your work finished not with death,
Nor with your final murdered breath.
For death’s blows could not ever quell
The One whose life is in Himself. (John 5:26)
Your passion broke forth full with life,
And foiled the adversary’s wiles.
You broke the chains, destroyed the sting (1 Cor. 15:55-57)
With which death had afflicted me.
O Savior, who died in my stead, (Mark 10:45; Heb. 9:28)
You firstborn from among the dead, (Col. 1:18)
O Savior, you who saved my life, (Matt. 1:21; John 12:47; 1 Cor. 1:21)
Will take me whole to paradise. (Rev. 22:1-7)
So on this resurrection day
I lift my voice with all the saints
And sing with all my ransomed might (1 Tim. 2:6)
Of You, the Savior of my life!
Then one of the twelve, whose name was Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, “What will you give me if I deliver him over to you?” And they paid him thirty pieces of silver. And from that moment he sought an opportunity to betray him.
(Matthew 26:14-16 ESV)
This Lord’s Day has been a blessing. In actuality when is it not? To consider that the Messiah, Jesus Christ the Son of God, has allowed us, sinful fallen men, to assemble and present our unworthy worship to Him is humbling in itself, but the fact that God doesn’t take the opportunity to unleash the wrath that we deserve while He has us in one spot is testimony to his patience, mercy, and grace. This is the same patience, mercy, and grace that he did not withhold from his very own son, the spotless, tempted and tried, Son of Man.
Of course, this Easter season, it is right and expected that those of us who have been washed clean by the selfless sacrifice of Jesus reflect on the Passion of Christ that led him to willingly to Golgotha, but as I had the opportunity to reflect on Judas Iscariot since I was blessed to play his cursed role in a service at church, I spent that time reflecting on what we know about this man who was trusted by the rest of the twelve.
Judas, cursed as he was, was part of a sovereign plan that was set in eternity past. We all look at this man with contempt and disdain that he was so calloused and evil that he would sell The Savior to those he knew were plotting to kill him for 30 pieces of silver. I don’t know how much that is worth then or today, nor does it matter, he placed his own evil interest and desire for self gain to high on his list of things he worships that he sold Jesus Christ to those who despised every ounce of his being. Here is the hard part: I am glad he did.
I am glad he did because he fulfilled the sovereign plan of the Triune God to fulfill the prophesy of Zechariah and Jeremiah symbolically with the 30 pieces of silver. It may not seem as though it is an important detail, It would not add or take away from the obvious observations that someone sold the Lord for their gain! But God actually did have this detail in mind, centuries and centuries prior when the prophets alluded to this betrayal in their writings, so praise God for 30 pieces of silver, that led Jesus to Calvary to redeem a fallen world and offer mankind the promise of life. Apart from the grace of almighty God, I would have sold him for less.
Thirty pieces of silver for the Lord of life they gave:
Thirty pieces of silver—only the price of a slave,
But it was the priestly value of the holy One of God:
They weighed it out in the temple, the price of the Saviour’s blood.
Thirty pieces of silver laid in Iscariot’s hand:—
Thirty pieces of silver, and the aid of an armed band,
Like a lamb that is brought to the slaughter, led the Holy Son of God
At midnight from the garden where His sweat had been as blood.
Thirty pieces of silver burned in the traitor’s brain:
Thirty pieces of silver! but oh! it is hellish gain:
`I have sinned and betrayed the guiltless,’ he cried with a fevered breath
And he cast them down in the temple and rushed to a madman’s death.
Thirty pieces of silver lay in the House of God:
Thirty pieces of silver, but oh! ’twas the price of blood.
And so, for a place to bury the stranger in, they gave
The price of their own Messiah Who lay in a borrowed grave.
It may not be for silver: it may not be for gold;
But still by tens of thousands is this precious Saviour sold.—
Sold for a godless friendship, sold for a selfish aim,
Sold for a fleeting trifle, sold for an empty name!
Sold in the mart of science! sold in the seat of power!
Sold at the Shrine of Fortune! sold in Pleasure’s bower!
Sold, where the awful bargain none but God’s eye can see:
Ponder, my soul, the question, ‘Shall He be sold by thee?’
Sold! O God, what a moment! stifled is conscience’ voice:
Sold! and a weeping angel records the awful choice:
Sold! but the price of the Saviour to a living coal shall turn,
With the pangs of remorse for ever deep in the soul to burn.
(Exod. 21. 32; Zech. 11. 12, 13; Matt. 26. 15; 27. 3, 4)
Still, as of old, man by himself is priced:
For thirty silver pieces Judas sold himself, not Christ.
(Matt. 27. 3, 4; Acts 1. 18)
Outdo one another in showing honor. Romans 12:10
I wonder if Romans 12:10 is one of the most under-obeyed commands in Scripture. I wonder if we have lowered our standard to “Do no harm to one another,” which is passive, and if we are not destroying each other we must be doing okay. But the gospel is all about the glory of God coming down on sinners (2 Thessalonians 2:14). Honor to one another is an obvious next step. But how many churches have you observed that made you say, “How they honor one another!”
What might keep us from pressing further in this way?
One, we might fear that honoring one another could appear to be mere flattery, even manipulation. And yes, we should carefully watch our hearts against insincerity. But do we ever obey perfectly in any respect? Obeying imperfectly is better than disobeying for fear of imperfection.
Two, we might think, Who am I to confer honor on anyone? What is my opinion worth? Good thought. Humble thought. But it isn’t us conferring the honor. It is God. Our part is to celebrate the honor and glory God is giving.
Three, we might not know how to show honor. Some of us grew up in homes where put-downs were how we were managed as children. But the gospel is all we need to begin a new tradition in every life, every home, every church. As we reach for nobler things, the God of peace will be with us to help us (Philippians 4:8-9).
Four, we might not see things in other believers worthy of honor. Well, maybe we need to look more closely. “As for the saints in the land, they are the excellent ones, in whom is all my delight” (Psalm 16:3). Every saint has some excellence. But an outlook of negative scrutiny will impute dark things to admirable people. Maybe we need to repent of an ungenerous spirit toward truly godly people.
As Paul Tournier wrote in Guilt and Grace, pages 15-16, “In everyday life we are continually soaked in this unhealthy atmosphere of mutual criticism, so much so that we are not always aware of it and we find ourselves drawn unwittingly into an implacable vicious circle: every reproach evokes a feeling of guilt in the critic as much as in the one criticized, and each one gains relief from his guilt in any way he can, by criticizing other people and in self-justification.” This is the spirit of worldliness.
We gospel-centered people are under the command of God to create alternative cultures of honor, called churches, where people are lifted up, their accomplishments celebrated, their strengths admired, their weaknesses forgiven. This new relational environment has high standards, in keeping with the glory of the gospel.
Timothy George has a great section in his book Amazing Grace: God’s Pursuit, Our Response where he speaks of the varied ways we experience grace. May his reflections lead your heart to gratitude and worship as you celebrate Thanksgiving today!
Grace is not an impersonal force or a divine quality to be studied only in the abstract. There is no hell on earth so deep but that God’s grace can go deeper still. Thus, the New Testament states that Jesus “is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him” (Heb. 7:25). We experience grace on many different levels in our lives:
- We experience grace as pardon. God’s forgiveness and justification remove our guilty standing before him—our real guilt, not just our guilty feelings. The psalmist claims that God’s pardoning grace removes our guilt of sin “as far as the east is from the west” (Ps. 103:12).
- We experience grace as acceptance. In Christ we who were distant from God, covered with shame, have been embraced, welcomed, and accepted—not because we are acceptable, but solely because we are loved.
- We experience grace as joy. This delivers us from the frantic quest to be “happy” through stuffing our lives with fleeting pleasures and “joyrides” that only leave us sadder, more depressed. Real joy comes from knowing God and serving him.
- We experience grace as peace. God’s shalom answers the anxieties and insecurities that threaten us from every side. The standard New Testament greeting is “grace and peace.” Grace and peace are twins; they belong together, related as cause and effect.
- We experience grace as power. Most people do not so much lack the knowledge to live as they should as they do the ability to carry out what they already know is right. God’s grace acts as an antidote to our impotence. It transforms, energizes, enables.
- We experience grace as hope. This is hope not in the loose sense of a vague general wish that may not come true, as in “hopefully it won’t rain tomorrow.” In Titus 2:11–13, Paul connects the grace of God with the “blessed hope” of Jesus’ return in glory, a great motivation for confident Christian living.
- We experience grace as love. God’s grace and love are so close that, at times, we cannot distinguish them. The Bible says that “perfect love casts out fear” (1 John 4:18), and God’s gracious love counters the nagging fears and doubts all of us have.
- We experience grace as gratitude. The most basic response we can make to grace remains a life of thank-yous to God. As Lewis Smedes points out, true gratitude involves “a sense of wonder and sometimes elation at the lavish generosity of God.”