LENTEN DEVOTION: Judas’s Bargain by Johann Ernst von Holst

Morning and Evening Devotions for the Holy Season of Lent

Judas’s Bargain by Johann Ernst von Holst

From The Crucified Is My Love

Then one of the twelve, whose name was Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, “What will you give me if I deliver him over to you?”  And they paid him thirty pieces of silver.  And from that moment he sought an opportunity to betray him. (Matthew 26:14-16)

Is it true that each Christian has a price for which he would sell his Savior?  Unfortunately it is only too true in the case of all who are not willing to break with sin.  It is true for those whose Christianity only serves to satisfy their Earthly desires, or who imagine they are able to combine it with serving the world.  We see what this must lead to in the shattering example of Judas.

The closer his relationship with the Lord, the more powerfully did he feel himself compelled to make a quick decision between complete dedication and hostile desertion.  Since he did not want to tear his deeply rooted love of self and of the world out of his heart, he was dragged into the camp of the enemy.  For the  miserable price of a slave, for thirty silver pieces, the once enthusiastic disciple sold his Master!  To be sure, the paltry silver pieces were not the real object of his action.  Above all he sought to rid himself of this master, who by his constant demand for a complete change of heart and life had become ever more unbearable to him.  He sought to acquire a reputation in the eyes of the leaders of his nation and so reach once more a comfortable position in life.  Incidentally, his avaricious nature was not averse to making a small profit while doing so.  While considering these thoughts, his better self rose up once more against them.  Once more a terrible struggle was fought in his breast, but with the sad result that his conscience was finally crushed.  Then he went and concluded the hellish agreement.

But the King of Heaven and Earth, in whose light and love the transfigured Earth will one day celebrate its eternal Sabbath, was valued at the paltry price of a slave.  What humiliation and outrage he had to endure!  He emptied himself and took the form of a servant, and was obedient unto death.  Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows.  He atoned for our pride and suffered our humiliation.  Upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, (Isaiah 53:4-5).

But for those of his disciples who thank him from their hearts, who willingly empty themselves of self with  him, who break completely with their sin and take upon themselves the form of a servant in devotion to their Master – in short, those who truly believe in him and love him above everything – for them there is no Judas-price in any world for which they might forsake and betray their Savior.  History bears witness to this in the joyful death of countless martyrs, who were able to say to their Lord and Master with the psalmist: “Whom have I in Heaven but you?  And there is nothing on Earth that I desire besides you.  My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my  portion forever,” (Psalm 73:25-26).

How do you stand, my soul, with regard to your sins and to the selling price?  Examine yourself carefully.  Whoever loves his life will lose it, but whoever loses it for Christ’s sake will keep it, (John 12:25).

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