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Communion Meditations (2014)

30 Pieces of Silver

Originally scheduled for April 13

One of the great mysteries of the New Testament is this:  why did Judas Iscariot betray Jesus for 30 pieces of silver?

We know the number of coins as the price of a slave in the Old Testament (Exodus 21:32).  Jesus came not to be served but to serve, and so this price is appropriate.  It appears again in Zechariah  11:12-13, as the wages of a shepherd – and Jesus is the Good Shepherd.  Interestingly, Zechariah was told to throw the money to the potter in the house of the Lord.  Judas returned his 30 pieces of silver – which were used to buy a potter’s field in which to bury Gentiles.  The thread winds thinly through the Scriptures, but it appears that those 30 pieces of silver – the value today is debatable, but it’s not a tremendous fortune – are the price of the Suffering Servant.

In those 30 coins there is a riddle:  we know that the betrayal was prophesied, the price already known – so what Judas did was necessary to bring about the crucifixion.  It had to happen – and yet Christ tells us that it would have been better for Judas if he had never been born.  Christ knew what Judas was doing – he even tells him to do it quickly.  Did Judas walk out of the Last Supper thinking that he was doing something that was necessary – even something which was good? 

Some of us may feel like that on occasion.  We reason with ourselves that because of our sin, God’s grace has the chance to abound.  If we hadn’t offended that someone, how could we experience the joy of reconciliation?  Since things turned out well, surely God won’t hold it against us, right? 

God’s grace does abound in such situations – which is to God’s credit, not yours or mine. That is why in establishing communion, at this very same Last Supper, we are taught that we do not justify ourselves.  Rather, communion should be a spur to confession and repentance. 

Therefore, as we partake of communion, let us turn our hearts and minds towards confessing our sins and repenting of them.  Examine yourself, and whatever you find sinful, renounce it.  Accept God’s forgiveness for it, and give him the glory for the grace you have received.  His body, his blood were given so that you might become righteous in the eyes of God.  Remember his sacrifice; repent of your sins.

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