February 26, 2012: “The Gosp Accd 2 Lady Gaga – Judas”

Posted on : Feb 23rd, 2012 | By | Category: This Sunday's Service

Every year on Palm Sunday-Passion Sunday, as I read the story of the last days of Jesus’ life, there is one part that always touches me deeply and leaves me wondering.  That part is the story of Judas.

Judas is one of “The Twelve.”  The words, “The Twelve” are often translated by us as “the twelve disciples.”  In fact that is true.  However, biblical scholars are quick to tell us there were other disciples of Jesus, as well.  Many of them were women.  They were followers or disciples of Jesus just like “the twelve.”  But in our Biblical story, “the twelve” take on a lead role, and as we heard in last Sunday’s scripture, three of the twelve, Peter, James and John, always seem to present when something big is about to happen.

In this last week of Jesus’ life, Jesus knows “something big is about to happen.”  Jesus had a real gift, even more so than our dear friend Rev. Janie Spahr, for “setting off” the religious establishment.  No matter what he did, they became infuriated!  Of course that was because Jesus didn’t buy into their abusive use of power, nor their exalted state as chief priests and elders of the Temple.  Jesus with every move he made, every word he spoke, and in every fiber of his body revealed God as one who is intimately involved in all aspects of our life – the good, the bad and the ugly.  That is what Jesus called “Holy.”  The religious power boys didn’t like that.

At times, rational people wonder how stupid religious people can be?  As I write this, I’m thinking of the insane “Decision and Order” the Permanent Judicial Commission of the Presbyterian Church just issued regarding Rev. Janie Spahr.  Here’s a tiny bit of what they said:

“On April 28, 2008, this Commission issued its Decision and Order in the case of Jane Adams Spahr v. Presbytery of the Redwoods.  That decision stated that a same-sex ceremony is not a marriage and that officers of the Presbyterian Church (USA) shall not state, imply or represent that a same-sex ceremony is a marriage.”

Pages later they went on to say, therefore, Rev. Janie Spahr is guilty of officiating at these 16 marriages.  Then they go on to commend Janie for her great pastoral gifts and ministry with the LGBT community!

Do you see how asinine that logic is?  The highest judicial body of the Presbyterian Church says, “A same-sex marriage is not a marriage—because we say it is not a marriage.”  Therefore Janie Spahr is guilty of officiating at 16 same-sex marriages that are marriages in the State of California, but are not marriages in the “eyes” of the church because our Book of Order says they are not.

That’s the kind of nonsense Jesus ran into all the time in his ministry.  And so the religious authorities set out to kill him.  The only problem was, Jews, ESPECIALLY legalistic Jews, knew they couldn’t kill.  It was against their own Holy Law. They needed someone else to do the dirty work.  So, they began their planning in secret.  Judas, one of the twelve, is approached and offered a hefty payment in pure silver to betray Jesus.  And for some unexplainable reason, Judas agrees.  Judas is not “one of them.”  He’s one of Jesus’ twelve!  What was he thinking?  Does the man have no conscience?  No soul???  Was he so desirous of pleasing “the big boys” that he sold out his best friend, Jesus?  This doesn’t make a lot of sense, but betrayal never does.

But here is one more perplexing question.  After Judas “sells out” his dear friend, Jesus, he realizes he’s really screwed up.  That’s not the exception in our lives, that’s the norm.  Jesus embraces all of us who screw up, all the time!  The Gospel (Good news of God’s Love) is one story after another of those of us who screwed up big time in our lives being forgiven and offered the gift of new life.  So why does Judas go out and hang himself?  Hum?  Is he the one person to whom forgiveness is not offered?  Is what he did “Unforgivable?”

There is a big difference between denial, sinfulness and betrayal.  What happens when a husband betrays his wife or husband?  When a wife betrays her husband or wife?  When someone we love betrays us?  There is something profoundly unique about betrayal.  We’ll talk about that on Sunday.  In the meantime, don’t betray anybody at least until after you hear this Sunday’s message.

In the words of Lady Gaga:

“I wanna love you,
But something’s pulling me away from you
Jesus is my virtue,
Judas is the demon I cling to
I cling to

I’m just a Holy Fool, oh baby he’s so cruel
But I’m still in love with Judas, baby
I’m just a Holy Fool, oh baby he’s so cruel
But I’m still in love with Judas, baby.”


~ This Sunday’s Scripture ~

Matthew 26-27

“The Story of Judas’ betrayal of Jesus”

When it was evening, Jesus sat at table with the twelve disciples; and as they were eating, he said, “Truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me.”  And they were very sorrowful, and began to say to one another, “Is it I?”  Jesus answered, “One who has dipped his hand in this dish of food with me, will betray me.  The Child of God is faithful to the prophetic word of scripture, but woe to the one by whom the Child of God is betrayed!  It would have been better if that person had not been born!”

Judas, who betrayed Jesus, said, “Is it I, Teacher?”  Jesus said to him, “You have said so.”

Later that evening in the garden called Gethsemane, while Jesus was speaking, Judas came, and with him a great crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests and the elders of the people.  Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, “The one I shall kiss is the man; capture him.”  And Judas came up to Jesus at once and said, “Peace be with you, Rabbi.” And Judas kissed Jesus.

Jesus said to Judas, “Friend, why are you here?”  Then the leaders of the mob came up and laid hands on Jesus and captured him. And behold, one of those who were with Jesus stretched out his hand and drew his sword, and struck the slave of the high priest, and cut off his hear.  Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back into its place; for all who take the sword will perish by the sword.  Do you think that I cannot appeal to God, and God will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels?  But how then should the scriptures be fulfilled?”  At that hour Jesus said to the crowd, “Have you come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs to capture me?  Day after day I sat in the temple teaching, and you did not seize me.  But all this has taken place that the scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled.”  Then all the disciples forsook him and fled.

When morning came, all the chief priests and the elders of the people took counsel against Jesus to put him to death; and they bound him and led him away and delivered him to Pilate the governor.

When Judas, his betrayer, saw that Jesus was condemned, Judas repented and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priest and the elders, saying, “I have sinned in betraying innocent blood.”  They said, “What is that to us?  You have done what you have done.”  And throwing down the pieces of silver in the temple, Judas departed; and he went and hanged himself.

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