Friday, March 25, 2011

For Sunday: Judas's Regret and Pilate's Indifference

Someone said something very interesting to me this week. They told me that they invited a friend to come to church a few months ago. After the friend came on to a Sunday service, the church member asked his friend what he thought of the service, and if he’d come back. His friend say, “No, I didn’t like the service.” (Now the man telling me the story had my attention.) When he inquired as to why, here is what his friend said: “They are into Jesus too much for me. It was all about Jesus. No thanks.”

I was relieved and I rejoiced when I heard that! I always want to be sure that we’re doing our best to not be a hindrance or needlessly offensive. But I took it as a compliment and a good sign that a person would choose to not come back because we are “too into Jesus.” Guilty as charged! I hope and pray that when a crisis hits in his future that he’ll remember where he can find help.

Igniting a passion to follow Jesus should create this kind of pushback or we aren’t pushing it hard enough.

On Sunday we’ll be looking at the lives of Judas and Pilate. You could think of them like the warning signs that you see when you approach a tight curve on a winding road – push it too hard and you’ll go right off the cliff! Both men made tragic and famous decisions regarding Jesus. Their actions live in infamy – Judas’s betrayal kiss and Pilate’s hand-washing. They both rejected Jesus but in different ways and for different reasons.

Here’s a summary:

Judas rejected Jesus because of some kind of greed in his heart. It could have been money, power, or position; we’re not exactly sure. But one thing is clear: he later regretted his betrayal. However, even though he regretted it, he never repented. Instead, his greed led to regret and ruin. Judas was full of regret but not repentance. There is huge difference, and we’ll look at the difference from 2 Corinthians 7 on Sunday.

Pilate rejected Jesus through indifference. He basically said, “This man is innocent, but do whatever you want. It’s not my problem.” On Sunday I’ll suggest that Pilate did this despite his curiosity (he’d never seen an accused man like this) because of his fear of what would happen if he did what was right. Pilate was on thin ice with Rome during the trial of Jesus (three years later he would be banished), and he chose a path of political and personal expediency. In other words, he chose the easy path. Indifference to Jesus is a subtle form of rebellion, and we’ll see how on Sunday.

Both men are given to us as metaphors of what happens when you reject Jesus. From Sunday’s introduction:

Often an example in the past becomes a warning metaphor that is meant to make us shutter. In recent days you’ve heard this all over the news with a statement like “I really hope that the Fukushima nuclear crisis doesn’t become another Chernobyl.” Jude 11 uses this kind of metaphor from a spiritual standpoint:

11 Woe to them! For they walked in the way of Cain and abandoned themselves for the sake of gain to Balaam's error and perished in Korah's rebellion. 12 These are blemishes on your love feasts, as they feast with you without fear, looking after themselves; waterless clouds, swept along by winds; fruitless trees in late autumn, twice dead, uprooted; 13 wild waves of the sea, casting up the foam of their own shame; wandering stars, for whom the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved forever (Jude 11-13).

Judas Iscariot and Pontius Pilate are both prime examples of warning signs.

As you look to Sunday, here’s how you can pray:

  • That the sins of Pilate and Judas would be very, very clear
  • That we would tremble at the tragedy of their lives
  • That we would understand the difference between regret and repentance
  • That those who are indifferent would see their embedded rebellion
  • That we would mediate on the reality of who Jesus is and what it means for our lives
  • That we would take seriously the call to believe and follow him in every area of our lives

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