‘Something to encourage and to think upon’, Monday of Holy Week, 6th April 2020.
This is the first in our series of thoughts by some members of All Saints Amersfoort. There is one each day of Holy Week. We encourage you to read the bible passage, consider the thoughts, use the prayer, and listen to the hymn or song. Let this be a help and a means of growth and personal spiritual reflection as you journey through Holy Week…
‘Something to encourage and think upon’
Bible passage: John 12:1-11
Dan Ariely, a famous behavioral economist, says that his studies do not suggest we can just kick bad people like Judas and clean up society. No, in his words, “we are all quite capable of behaving badly”. In experiments with money that he did with about 30,000 people, he came across 12 big Judases… These Judases stole, in total, about $150 from him during the experiments.
But there were – in those 30,000 participants – 18,000 little Judases and they stole in total $36,000 during the experiments. He goes on to say that the more we can rationalize our behavior, the more we are likely to cheat. In his words, “Thanks to our flexible cognitive psychology and our ability to rationalize our actions we can cheat just a little but still feel that we are honest, wonderful people; it is all about rationalization.”
How did Judas rationalize stealing from Jesus’ ministry? How would you, rationalize stealing from Jesus?
“Well,” Judas might think, “Peter and James and John are just fools and they are always giving money to the wrong people.” And, “I know about money and I’m never compensated for working so hard to keep the treasury in order… I’ll just give myself a little extra bonus for my hard work. It is only fair!”
“Who does Judas think he is?”, one might ask. Tragically, he is like you and like me in so many ways. Most people don’t really think they are bad; they don’t really think they are sinners. They turn on the evening news and satisfy themselves that they are not like the man who murdered his wife or the woman who scaled her children. They are demonstrably bad, but I do my best. Unfortunately, in God’s eyes, our best looks more like Judas than Christ.
The Son of God may have lowered himself and humbled himself for the work he had to do here on earth, but Jesus was no Indian-style guru or, as Voddie Baucham the well-known Baptist preacher says: … Jesus wasn’t a man with manicure fingernails that doubled as a shampoo model.
No, Christ was ruthless with the truth about who we have become, who he is, and what needs to be done. If Judas, say, had rationalized a life of stealing – just a little bit – so that he could still see himself as an ‘honest and wonderful person’, the preaching, presence, and person of Christ must have been a grating reminder of his own failings. It must have been a incessant tick-tock that he – that we, are not capable of being good enough without the blessed and loving – but uncompromising and relentless – truths that Christ brought with his ministry.
No, let us not just understand the depravity of Judas, but use him as a mirror to understand those parts of us that cannot heal, cannot thrive, cannot measure up to God’s full expectation of us. Let it make us grateful, not gratified, that Christ was willing to give us the greatest possible – unthinkable – gift: that of dying for our sins and rising in completed glory so that we, too, may rise with him someday.
And what a gift it is!
Father, may we repent, believe, and turn from our self-reliance. Help us to shatter the image of our world where we exist at the center of everything. Instead, let us see the beauty and majesty of your Word and your truth.
How desperately we need you and not only do we need your salvation, but we need to understand what it means, because the more we know, and the more we understand, the more we are called and motivated to worship you rightly for who you are and what you have done.
Father, for those who have read this but might not believe, may their eyes be opened, their hearts changed, and may they rest in the work of Christ and Christ alone. For the rest of us, let us proclaim salvation, proclaim the gospel, so that Christ may have the full glory for his once and sufficient sacrifice for sin and his glorious resurrection.
In Christ’s name we pray, Amen.
The Hymn for today, Monday of Holy Week.
By Peter Gillies.
Header Image: www.LumoProject.com