GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM CHRIST, OUR FORGIVING LORD!
TEXT: Luke 22: 47,48 “While he was still speaking a crowd came up, and the man who was called Judas, one of the Twelve, was leading them. He approached Jesus to kiss him, but Jesus asked him, ‘Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?’”
Dearly Beloved By Christ:
What do you think of when I say: “Trojan horse?” Young people think of malware or spyware downloaded to a computer. Older folks think of the giant, wooden horse built by the Greeks and left as a gift for the people of Troy after the Greeks were unable to take the city during the previous 10 years of fighting. The Trojans wheeled this horse inside the gates, left it for the night and celebrated! But inside the horse were various Greeks warriors who then opened the gates as the Greek army streamed in and took the city.
Our lesson outlines the tragic case of 12 men chosen by Christ to accompany Him and the 1, Judas, who betrayed Him. He was Satan’s Trojan horse. We’ve discussed Jesus as our Warrior during this Lenten season. Tonight we see that: The Battle Is Personal.
We can carry mace to ward off an attacker. We can lock our doors to prevent thieves from taking our possessions. But how do you ward off a betrayer?
It was right after Jesus ate His last meal with the disciples. They had gone to the Garden of Gethsemane at the foot of the Mt. of Olives. There Jesus prayed. There the disciples’ slept. There Jesus woke them with our text telling them: “Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss” as the armed soldiers and Judas found Him. Matthew tells us that Judas went up to Jesus and singled Him out, using the traditional greeting of one friend to another–a kiss. Judas is conniving to the end. A Trojan horse had entered his heart.
Here are a few facts about Judas: 1. He had been the treasurer of the group from the beginning and had embezzled money. 2. Satan had entered his heart and moved him to betray Christ for 30 pieces of silver, the price of a slave. 3. Just hours before, Christ had told all of them that “one of you will betray me.” Thus fulfilling a prophecy in Ps. 41:9 and yet Judas didn’t heed this warning.
What a sad life. Obviously Judas struggled with sin. Obviously greed was the “in” to Judas’ heart. Judas sold His Lord for the price of a slave. Yet Jesus willingly became a slave to him in order to buy forgiveness from God for his very soul! The irony of it all is beyond compare. None of the disciples knew Judas would betray Jesus. They all wondered if it might be them when Jesus first raised the subject. “Is it I Lord” they asked. That’s because they knew their weaknesses. They knew they were sinners and struggled with it, just like you and me. Yes, the battle is always personal, isn’t it?
When the soldiers came Peter was the first to stand up—and fight for his Lord. He drew his sword (the French later called it: La Malice) and hacked off the ear of Malchus, a servant of the high priest. But then he also fled. He lingered in the shadows, followed them to the High Priest’s palace, gained entrance, and when challenged denied his Lord with cursing and swearing. Judas wasn’t the only Trojan horse! Peter also was a betrayer. He possessed the Trojan horse of fear in his heart. Satan used it to turn Peter against his God-given faith.
Satan knows your Trojan horse and also turns it against you. St. Paul says it well: “In my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death?” Yes, we’re all under Satanic attack and “The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” It may be guilt from the past. It may be temptation on the internet. It may be spiritual apathy or laziness. It may be a sloppy prayer life. Satan uses whatever it takes and always attacks your weakest point. Trojan horses reside in all of us.
But the good news is that we have a Warrior who helps us fight and fend off such sneak attacks! I agree with St. Paul who says: “Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory in Christ Jesus, our Lord!”
Remember the old hymn: “Yes, Jesus Loves Me”? Remember the line: “For I am weak, but He is strong”? Jesus fights our battles with us, alongside us, and ultimately for us! Since He’s triumphed over His betrayer, He can and does know exactly how to triumph over ours! He handled all human betrayal on the cross, saying, praying, “Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.” Love always conquers evil and Satanic power! That’s the message of God’s Friday. And because He loves His children, He also up-armors us with the same weapons that conquered the betrayer—namely, the cross followed by the empty tomb. For “death has been swallowed up” in His victory. Additionally, He gives us His Holy Word of truth, the sword of the Spirit, to ward off demonic attacks. And one of those “other-worldly nuclear bombs” is the Holy Supper. For in it He gives to us His strength, His power, His hope, His joy, His victory—the forgiveness of sins hidden under bread and wine. He gives us the best He has to offer: His genuine body and blood for total, Godly forgiveness.
Tonight for the first time in my ministry we will not receive communion on Maundy Thursday. Satan has briefly succeeded via the corona virus to make that happen. But, I can tell you this: the first Sunday back to church we WILL celebrate the Lord’s Supper! We will join in God’s “up-armoring” us once again! Meanwhile, God’s other spiritual warfare weapons will take up the slack. Your baptism will and does equip you to ward off the betrayer. God’s Holy Word of truth will shove him away. Absolution will vanquish him, too. Someone once asked Dr. Luther why did God give us three means of grace, the 2 sacraments and the Word, when only one would suffice? Luther responded by saying: “God’s not stingy with His grace!” God wanted you to be totally comforted of final victory and by giving you three means of grace, He cemented that fact in your minds! So, tonight we launch 2 nuclear bombs against Satan. But in a few weeks we’ll add the final one—just to make sure, to further comfort you, of ultimate victory. Amen
THE PEACE OF GOD….
Pastor Thomas H. Fox