maandag 13 mei 2013

The Kiss of Death

Most of us are familiar with the name Judas Iscariot. He of course was the fallen follower of Jesus Christ who betrayed Him into the hands of the chief priests and elders that sought His death in Jerusalem. You see, Jesus posed a significant threat to their status and standing in Jewish society, not to mention the treasured traditions that kept them in power and the Jewish people in bondage. They simply could not afford to let this miracle worker from Nazareth ride into town on a donkey and steal their thunder. So, after much conniving, they struck a deal with the disenchanted disciple that he might lead them to Jesus in the dark of night and identify Him with a kiss to the cheek. The other disciples probably had no idea what was going on as their friend Judas approached leading a late night raiding party. Jesus however, wasn’t the least bit fooled.

“But Jesus said unto him, Judas, betrayest thou the Son of man with a kiss?” - Luke 22:48

Many over the years have named their children after great men and women of the bible; as did my parents name me. But I have yet to hear of a single person in my lifetime named “Judas”. After all – who would have their child bear the name of Christ’s betrayer? It would be the equivalent of naming them Lucifer, Beelzebub or Satan.

“Then one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went unto the chief priests, And said unto them, What will ye give me, and I will deliver him unto you? And they covenanted with him for thirty pieces of silver. And from that time he sought opportunity to betray him.” – Matthew 26: 14 -16

It’s important to note that Judas didn’t publicly reject Jesus or even quietly resign his position as a disciple before opposing him. Instead he deceitfully USED his position as a cowardly cover for his wickedness. In other words, Judas betrayed Jesus while pretending to be His friend and ally.

In light of Pontus Pilate’s own declaration of Jesus innocence and the agonizing crucifixion that followed, it’s very easy for us to sit back on our “blessed assurance” some two thousand years later and look repugnantly at a man like Judas as if we were somehow more honorable. But I would suggest to you that many of us who claim to be disciples of Christ betray Him daily with a kiss.

Every time we seek wealth, riches and glory in the name of Christ, we betray Him with a kiss. Every time we endeavor to make a name for ourselves by using His, we betray Him with a kiss. Every time we seek, encourage and accept the praise and applause of others for what God has done through us, ESPECIALLY in a worship service, we betray Him with a kiss. Every time we exchange awards and accolades among ourselves for our “reasonable service” to God, we betray Him with a kiss.

Every time we, as believers, take advantage of another emotionally, psychologically, spiritually, sexually, financially or politically, at home, at church, at work or on the street, we betray Him with a kiss. Every time we use our talents, our gifts, our testimony, our career, our ministry, our credentials, our reputation, our church, our resources or our popularity to bring attention and recognition to ourselves instead of God, we betray Him with a kiss. Every time we sit silent as a preacher, pastor, teacher, deacon, elder or lay leader deceives another with what we know to be false and unscriptural in the interest of peace and unity, we betray Him with a kiss.

Every time we fill the ears of “seekers” with humorous anecdotes, seductive flattery, humanist psychology and creeker-speak rather than risk offending them with the whole council of God, we betray Him with a kiss. Every time we keep the gospel to ourselves for the sake of career, convenience, compromise, compatibility, camaraderie or political correctness, we betray Him with a kiss. Even one that does nothing worse than give lip service to God on Sunday morning betrays Him with a kiss.

I guess we’re not so different from Judas after all, are we? We would do well to remember just how much we have in common with him as we stroll into church this Sunday wearing our Easter best. Let’s not, as my pastor so aptly put a few weeks ago, “confuse God’s approval with God’s mercy”. It could be the kiss of death.

“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.” - Romans 12:1

© 2003 Paul Proctor - All Rights Reserved

Note from Berit:  Paul is right: "We’re not so different from Judas." Apart from our Lord, Jesus Christ, we share the same fallen nature. And without the cross, we -- like Judas -- would have no hope.
       Every day I am tempted to put my will above His will. Every day I fall short of living my life in full obedience to my wonderful Lord and Savior. All the more, I thank Him for that old rugged cross where He gave His life, so that I might now share what I don't deserve: His perfect, holy, triumphant and eternal life.
      For by His grace, I have been forgiven. By His blood, I have been cleansed! Through the cross, I have been set free! Therefore, I can happily sing these precious words by John Newton, a redeemed former slave trader:

"Amazing grace! How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found;
Was blind, but now I see.