Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Worship at the Judas Rock: When We Identify With the Betrayer

One of the most unusual things I encountered in Jerusalem was in an out-of-the-way church on the Mount of Olives. It was adjacent to The Grotto, and filled with beautiful artwork. Some of the paintings appeared to have been restored, while others were nearly obscured beneath centuries of grime. 

I made my way around the room as I looked at the paintings and finally arrived at a glass-enclosed shrine. Inside, there was a large rectangle of rock. 

The Judas rock.

It was (reportedly) the rock on which Judas stood when he betrayed Jesus for 30 pieces of silver. (Luke 22: 3-6, 47-48) A narrow opening under the lid was just wide enough to allow a piece of paper to slip through. The rock was covered with randomly scattered money and hastily written notes. I stared at the slips of paper and money and wondered…

 Why is there a shrine to the betrayer?

Why identify with Judas? Why leave letters on the Judas rock? Why leave money?

I struggled with this for days. Did people think Judas could answer their prayers? That the money would redeem their sin? It took me a while to come to the conclusion that no one wants to identify with Judas. We already identify with him because we, too, are betrayers. 

Our focus, like Judas, is all too often on money, possessions, success, and prestige. We put what we want before the call of Christ. Pleasing ourselves comes before our relationship with Him. 

I include myself in that corporate "we," for, though I hate to admit it, I still put my own desires before Jesus. My first thought is, far more than I’d like to admit, what I want in a particular situation, rather than what Christ wants. Although I usually find my way to seeking God's will, the first burst of "Leanna worship" is a betrayal of the higher call to the will of God. Neither dollars nor letters of contrition can change that. 

Only the grace of God is sufficient. 

It's the greatest paradox that our Holy God would exact the price for our sin from Himself, but He did, and He offers that redemption to all who will receive it. 

What can wash away the stain of sin? The black shroud of betrayal? Nothing. Nothing but the blood of the spotless Lamb of God. 

Today, let's choose to love God first and love others as we love ourselves. In so doing, we live as those who have been redeemed. 

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive our sin and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9

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