Tag Archives: Passover

Was Judas Responsible?

“Then Judas Iscariot, one of the Twelve, went to the chief priests to betray Jesus to them.” Mark 14:10

When I was a teenager, before I was a Christian, I heard a question asked in a Sunday School class.  (Yes, I was in church even though I wasn’t a Christian; which goes to prove that just because you’re in the “church building” doesn’t mean that you’re part of the Church that God is building.)  The question asked would haunt me for years.  Even after I became a “God-first” Christian, the question would resonate in my thoughts,”Was Judas responsible for betraying Jesus?”  It’s a question that will really mess up the mind of a rebellious seventeen year old, so I suggest it be asked with care when in the company of people who aren’t established in their faith of God.

In the Old Testament it was prophesied that someone was going to betray the Messiah; it was a done deal.  If Judas didn’t do it, someone would have.  In a manner of speaking, Judas was predestined to do what he did and he did what he was going to do.  Before I became a Christian I would explore the question and find myself in pity for Judas.  As I’ve grown as a Christian, I’ve realized a new dimension to the answer.

To ask such a question with the privilege of history is shortsighted and to answer such a question without introspection is judgmental.  You might recall that my definition of judgmentalism is comparing someone’s weakness to our strength.  What is our strength in this instance?  It’s historical hindsight.  We know the outcome.  If I put myself in Judas’ position…well frankly, I’ve been in Judas position,  Yes, I’ve betrayed Jesus.  I’ve betrayed Him each and every time that I’ve sinned.  With each impure thought, every slight of someone else, every half-truth, each missed opportunity to forgive I’ve not just betrayed Christ, I’ve driven a nail into His hands.

“Really, Joe?  You think that those things are as cursed as delivering the Savior to his executioners?  Are you saying that you…we…are no better than Judas?”

In the words of Phineas and Ferb, “Yes, yes I am.”  In the interest of full disclosure I admit that this idea isn’t original with me.  “…for all of sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”  Not only would I have done what Judas did, I’ve done it.

So, the answer to the question, “Was Judas responsible for what he did?” is, “No more responsible than I am.”  You see, the question of sin isn’t about someone else, it’s about me.  And the question of my “forgiveability” isn’t about me, it’s about God’s grace through Christ.

This is where my hindsight really gives me an advantage.  While still sitting at the Passover table Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, one of you will betray me — one who is eating with me.” Mark 14:18.  What I know that Judas didn’t is that there’s forgiveness for even the worst of sinners, “But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

The picture is this: even when we get up from the banquet table, walk out the door and betray Him; Jesus wants us back at the table.  In spite of ourselves, He wants us to be with Him.

I can’t help but wonder what Judas would have done after the betrayal if he had trusted Jesus’ unconditional love.  But again, this is a question that’s unfair to ask of Judas, however it’s something that I, as a Christian, must grapple with regularly.  I don’t comprehend His limitless love and forgiveness, but that’s because He’s not just a “great big me.”  I have limits, He doesn’t.  He’s completely “other” from us and so is His love for us.  It’s almost unthinkable for us to consider that Jesus wants anything to do with us after what we’ve done and what we continue to do.

But He does!  And He wants me and you, too!  Not only is He bigger than our success, He’s bigger than our sin.  Jesus doesn’t just let us back to the party, He wants us back!  Come back to the party.

That’s why worship!  It’s a party!

Jumping the Worship Shark – Part Deux

…continued from yesterday.

Throughout scripture the terms used to describe worship seem to transcend time, space, posture, attitude, etc. The concept or worship remains elusive throughout the OldTestament. At times it took the form of scheduled observances, i.e. “The Lord’s appointed times which you shall proclaim as holy convocations – My appointed times are these: For six days work may be done; but on the seventh day there is a Sabbath of complete rest, a holy convocation” Leviticus 23:2&3. These are “worship” as noun.

There are also feasts such as The Passover or The Feast of Unleavened Bread. These are the action verb of worship. Sometimes the priests offered sacrifice on behalf of Israel as passive spectators and at other times God’s chosen people were active participants, “Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread, but on the first day you shall remove leaven from your houses…” Exodus 12:1

In Joshua’s “farewell speech” we see worship as lifestyle, “as for me and my house we will serve the Lord.” It is in “lifestyle worship” that the Israelites seem to be the most schizophrenic. I won’t list them here, but there are myriad examples of God’s Chosen putting on and taking off their t-shirts with pithy phrases. Let it be sufficient to say that the Israelites were just like everyone else in lifestyle…only more so. When they were religious they were more religious than anyone else, but when they were secular they were more secular everyone else.

In Psalm 2:11, “Worship the Lord with reverence,” we see worship begin to reveal itself in a new light. The word for worship (Abad) in this verse implies to be worked or slaved to a state of exhaustion. Whatever owns or enslaves our resources, attention, thoughts, heart reveals what we worship. And, it will wear us down till there’s nothing left. Reverence (Yir’ah) can be associated with awe that consumes one’s attention, sometimes to the point of terror. The question for us to answer is, “what do we want wearing us down and consuming our attention?”

As an aside, being in the presence of God always leads to one of two inevitabilities: either worship or judgment (death). That should produce some awe that will consume your attention to the point of terror. There is no middle-ground here. “The fear (same word translated at “reverence” in Psalm 2:11) of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; A good understanding have all those who do His commandments; His praise endures forever.” But, being in awe or reverence of God is also the beginning of wisdom, the knowledge that He is loving and just and gentle…well, there just aren’t enough adjectives.

Anyway, it’s in Psalms, most of which were written by the greatest worshipper on Earth, that we begin to see what worship is. But, it’s in the New Testament, in the New Covenant, that worship reveals itself fully. It’s in the salvation of Christ that reverence for God moves from being consumed with terror to being overwhelmed by the tsunami of His love. It’s when we are brought back to life in His resurrection, after realizing our death that we are God’s glory.

There is another distinction in worship between the Old and New Testament. In all of the feasts and festivals (some of which I listed earlier) of the Old Covenant the worshippers (people) came to the temple. Under the New Covenant the temples come together in worship (“Do you not know that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in You?”, “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own.” I Corinthians 3:16 & 6:19 respectively). There’s that implication of worshipping or bringing glory to whatever owns you.

To my thinking, this means that the idea of meeting together on a particular day at a particular time to renew our minds, refresh our spirits, recharge our batteries and rejuice our emotions to simply survive another week is inefficient at best and completely ineffectual at worst. It’s what consumes us during the week that defines worship. Simply coming to church in the hope of plugging into some spiritual outlet for a few hours just isn’t going to cut it. We need to recognize that we are temples of the Holy Spirit who is in us. We have the power source, the everlasting battery, in us. But, if we’ve been getting our “juice” from other sources (the other things in life that we allow to own us) it actually inhibits our ability to draw on this infinite power.

The inverse to weekly corporate worship as a source of energy is true. Ultimately, if Christians have been in a state of worship throughout the week, loving “the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength”, then when the “Temples” all gather together an overwhelming, awe inspiring corporate expression of that state of worship can’t be contained. When two or more, who have been in a private state of worship, are gathered in the name of the Originator of that worship, then the Origin and Originator of that worship is there. Worship begets worship. I’m not going to pretend to understand it. All I am able to do is testify to the magnificent mystery of it all.

This individual, private, upper-room, continual attitude of prayer, this little light of mine type of worship always results in a kind of spiritual critical mass when combined with like individuals. The outward manifestation of individual worship starts an uncontrollable chain reaction that culminates in a mushroom cloud of corporate worship that can no more be contained and harnessed as could a nuclear explosion.

Why don’t more churches experience this type of critical mass? Why do one third of those who regularly attend church feel that they experience the presence of God less than half of the occasions that they attend church (according to Barna research http://www.barna.org/barna-update/article/5-barna-update/35-worship-tops-the-list-of-important-church-based-experiences)?

It’s because the meaning of “worship” has been a casualty of the worship wars. It’s because we, as Christians, have been deceived and lied to about what why we were created.

We are created, we have our being, our very existence is for one over-riding purpose: to bring glory to God. John Piper, in his book “Let the Nations Be Glad” does an excellent job of laying out biblical texts that reveal God’s zeal of His own glory. Here are just a few…

“God created us for His glory: ‘Bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the end of the earth, everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory.’ Isaiah 43:6-7”

“God forgives our sins for His own sake: ‘I, I am He who blots out your transgressions for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins.’ Isaiah 43:25”

“Jesus receives us into His fellowship for the glory of God: ‘Welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.’ Romans 15:7”

“God instructs us to do everything for His glory: ‘So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.’ I Corinthians 10:31; cf. 6:20

“Everything that happens will redound to God’s glory: “From Him and through Him are all things. To Him be glory forever. Amen.” Romans 11:36

So, here we are again. Back at the question, “what is worship?”

Worship is a being verb.

Consider it…don’t miss the nuance. God created the universe for His glory; chose Israel for His glory; God led Israel out of Egypt for His glory; God sent Jesus for His glory; Jesus performed miracles for His glory; Jesus suffered, died and lived again for His glory; Jesus gives us life through His resurrection for His glory; Jesus will come again for His glory; in Him we have our being for His glory.

There it is: “for in Him we live and move and have our being”…for His glory.

We are worship. We bring glory.

The question for us Christians is, “to whom or what do we bring glory?” Just because something, or someone, is created for a purpose doesn’t always mean that the purpose is fulfilled. Are we worship that brings glory to God or to something else? Are we worship that attracts those around us to God or distracts them to something else? Or worse, are we attractive worship or repulsive worship?

When we are cut off in traffic, what type of worship are we? When the cashier at McDonald’s gets our order wrong, what type of worship are we? When we see a homeless person who could use a sandwich and coffee, what kind of worship are we? When a young girl is struggling with the option of abortion, what kind of worship are we? When the teenage boy down the street, who we allow to annoy us with his sub-woofers, continues to make poor life decisions, what type of worship are we? When the elderly lady across the street, who we think complains too much, could use her lawn cut, what type of worship are we?

In short, are we worship that attracts people to the Savior or repulses them?

For that driver, forgive because you were forgiven. For that cashier, offer an encouraging word for the difficult day they may be having. For that homeless person, make an extra sandwich when you’re making your own lunch for the day. For that young girl, offer to help raise that precious, unborn child in the way that she should go so that when she is grown she will not depart from it. For that teenage boy, remember what it was like for you at that age make yourself available to walk the difficult road of adolescence with him. For that lady, what’s one more yard on your to-do list, anyway?

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy to offer your bodies as living sacrifices holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship.”

Be worship…and then stand awestruck when you see what corporate worship can be when two or more have been gathered in His name throughout the entire week.

And, just as being worship results in corporate worship, corporate worship encourages being worship…but I’ll let you write that story on your own.

That’s why worship!

In Remembrance

“…I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God.” Luke 22:16

But, Jesus does eat it again. He does drink again from the fruit of the vine. He does them over and over againevery timeHis Body does.

The fulfillment of God’s kingdom came when Jesus became the sacrificial lamb, when He died on the cross for our sin. What Christians do now in communion is the fulfillment of The Passover. What the Passover started communion accomplishes each and every timeHis Bodyparticipates in it.

Caveat: as long as we participate in it asa healthybody.

Is there descension in the Body? “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there…and be reconciled to your brother.” Matt. 5:23,24

We don’t just participate in communion in remembrance of Jesus, we do it as Him. Not us personally, but as a body…His Body. If there is trouble between two parts or members of the body then something is wrong. Imagine the liver attacking the spleen. Or more realistically the immune system rejecting a new organ that was intended to make a body whole. The body is sick. In the body of Christ when one part attacks another it means that Jesus is sick (it sounds pretty severe to say that Jesus is sick, doesn’t it?)

If there’s anything I’ve learned from my addiction to the TV show “House” it is that when there’s an infection in the body “all hell breaks loose”. The entire system suffers. Even healthy organs are affected. And the breakdown only gets worse until it is reconciled. White blood cells may defeat the problem internally, medicine might cure a chemical imbalance, cancer cells might need to be removed…whatever the problem is it must be reconciled to health or inevitably the result is death.

When we take communion are we doing it as Christ’s healthy body? Is He breaking bread and drinking from the cup through us in fulfillment of His kingdom? Or is our hardheartedness, unforgiveness or disobediancea sickness, a malignant cancer in His body?

Imagine the joy Jesus must feel when His healthy body takes communion. How His aching stomach must be satisfied and His parched throatrelieved whenHebreaks bread and drinks from the cup because we do it in rememberance of Him. We are Him! We’re His body!