Message, July 4, 2021 Title: "The End of Judas' Sin“
Today, I would like to leave you with my very last will and testament. I will tell you as frankly and clearly as I can why I believe in Jesus as my Lord, and why I want to serve Him. However, there is a limit to how much can be expressed in human words, so I will leave it to the Holy Spirit to tell you.
This morning, just after 5:00 a.m., I turned on the TV and saw that NHK was broadcasting "The Age of the Heart: Religion, Life. The title was "Embracing One Another Now - - Reading the Bible for the Corona Disaster. A pastor I have admired for a long time, Pastor Satoshi Okuda of Higashi Yahata Christ Church in Kitakyushu City, was on the program.
(I've attached Pastor Okuda’s website to the end of this article. If you want to save time, you can watch from minute 45:17 to 50:45 of this video for today's sermon. I am not acquainted with Pastor Okuda at all, but I first heard of him through a program on FEBC and was very sympathetic to the way he viewed faith.)
Pastor Okuda was talking about Judas. Ladies and gentlemen, you have heard of Judas, haven’t you? He was the traitor who sold Jesus to the priests for 30 pieces of silver; later he regretted it, but could not bear the remorse, and committed suicide.
The disciples, Mark, Luke, and John, differ a little in their portrayal of why Judas betrayed Jesus. The Gospel of Mark describes Judas as a betrayer, and Luke wrote that Satan entered into Judas. The Gospel of John refers to Judas as a demon, but the facts are not clear.
There are many different interpretations. As a result, the reason for Judas's betrayal is unknown. Some say it was because the story needed a villain, while others say it was necessary to portray both the good and the bad sides of human nature. In the TV drama "The Life of Jesus Christ", Judas was troubled by Jesus's behavior and went to Caiaphas (the priest) without realizing the gravity of the situation. There are other explanations.
When I was in high school (more than half a century ago), the musical "Jesus Christ Superstar" portrayed Judas as one who loved Jesus so much that he betrayed him to stop his outburst. I remember that this portrayal was unacceptable and sensational in the traditional Christian church.
We Christians are often at a loss as to how to interpret the passage about Judas correctly, aren’t we? Maybe, it is common sense that we would be wise not to pry into it, but allow it to be a mystery. However, Pastor Okuda and I both dare to break it down and discuss it.
It is clear that Judas was sorry for what he had done, and he went to the temple to return the silver coins, but it did not help. He went to give back the silver coins, but it didn't solve anything. Judas ended up committing suicide because he couldn't bear the gravity of his sin.
I have heard that Judas got what he deserved. He is still suffering and squirming. However, I don’t often hear about this issue in sermons. "Poor Judas! He is suffering for eternity.” But, I've always wondered about this.
How do you all feel about it? I'm scared! Some people believe that we have God's forgiveness for any sin, except for betrayal like Judas’s, so we can't betray Jesus! But what does it mean to betray? It means to sin, right? But I do think about sinful things, and sometimes I do them.
Everyone! Don't you think this is not the heart of Jesus? "Well, if I have been forgiven, then what does it matter what I do? I don't have to believe in Christ. It's no problem, is it?” You might say.
I have my doubts about "the teachings of Martin Luther emphasizing the cardinal doctrine of justification by faith alone because there is a condition." If you believe, you will be saved. I believe that all people can be saved and live in heaven with God in a perfect state after death. It is because God died on our behalf to redeem us from our sins.
However, living with this knowledge is not the same as not knowing it at all. When you know this truth, you realize how grateful and happy you are. No matter how difficult things get; even if I am in the middle of it now; I know that it's not the end; that I'm not alone; and that I can walk with Jesus. It is the basis of my faith.
My treasure is the invisible but real Gospel of Jesus, which I do not keep in a safe, but I live it every day.
My greatest hope is that you will take hold of this Gospel; for God forgives all people; the Lord is with us; we are not alone.
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