Blinded by majoring on minors.

Some things have become far more important than they need to be. Ever used a fine-tooth comb?

The chief priests picked up the coins and said, “It is against the law to put this into the treasury, since it is blood money.” So they decided to use the money to buy the potter’s field as a burial place for foreigners. That is why it has been called the Field of Blood to this day. Then what was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet was fulfilled: “They took the thirty pieces of silver, the price set on him by the people of Israel, and they used them to buy the potter’s field, as the Lord commanded me.” (Matthew 27 v 6-10)

They majored on the aspects of what it says in Deuteronomy 23:18 “You must not bring the earnings of a female prostitute or of a male prostitute into the house of the Lord your God to pay any vow, because the Lord your God detests them both.” Yet were blinded to them playing a part in the fulfilment of prophetic fulfilment regarding the death of Christ.

Be careful with what you are scrutinising today. It might cause you to miss the important thing.

A sad story of being with the wrong people

There are times when we badly get it wrong. Judas had totally misunderstood the mission of Jesus and had tried to advance the cause. His plan failed.

“Early in the morning, all the chief priests and the elders of the people made their plans how to have Jesus executed. So they bound him, led him away and handed him over to Pilate the governor. When Judas, who had betrayed him, saw that Jesus was condemned, he was seized with remorse and returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders. “I have sinned,” he said, “for I have betrayed innocent blood.” “What is that to us?” they replied. “That’s your responsibility.” So Judas threw the money into the temple and left. Then he went away and hanged himself.” (Matthew 27 v 1-5)

Deep regret over his betrayal and knowing he has sinned, he returns to those who represent God. He is looking for help. The weight is too heavy. But he returns to the wrong people.

These leaders would never carry his burden. They have used Judas. They offer no resolution for him. In just a few hours the right person was going to die for Judas. But he cannot see this as he is with the wrong people.

Judas still has the thirty coins of insult, of no real value, the amount of a slave accidently killed (Exodus 21:32). But this is no accident and Jesus is no slave. He throws the coins back at them and leaves. What he does next is because he is with the wrong person, himself. He was hours away from the death of his master and days away from it all making sense. For him there was only one thing left to do.

The sound of life

There may be sounds that remind you of what went wrong for you.

Sounds of what you have lost. Sounds of your failure. Sounds of your missed opportunities. Sounds of your own impetuousness.

But I want to tell you there is a sound of heaven which is far more important than the sound of the earth.

“Now Peter was sitting out in the courtyard, and a servant girl came to him. “You also were with Jesus of Galilee,” she said. But he denied it before them all. “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he said. Then he went out to the gateway, where another servant girl saw him and said to the people there, “This fellow was with Jesus of Nazareth.” He denied it again, with an oath: “I don’t know the man!” After a little while, those standing there went up to Peter and said, “Surely you are one of them; your accent gives you away.” Then he began to call down curses, and he swore to them, “I don’t know the man!” Immediately a rooster crowed. Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken: “Before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.” And he went outside and wept bitterly.” (Matthew 26 v 69-75)

I wonder in the years to come what the sound of the rooster would mean to Peter?

Matthew writes Peter goes outside and weeps bitterly. John just ignores him. We know nothing of what happens to Peter until after the Resurrection. The man who wanted to be involved in everything and the first to volunteer for anything is not part of the most important part of the story of Jesus.

Do you remember when you failed miserably and it took you out of the action for a while?

It seemed that God removed you from the place you were in and looking back you know it came as a result of your failure.

The sound of denial can haunt a person for the rest of their life.

But we of course know there is another reminder.

The sound of my new beginning

The rooster crowed and a new day began.

Our lives don’t change on our success but on the trauma of failure, brokenness and repentance.

There is a brokenness that leads to death as Judas experienced. But there is a brokenness that leads to life.

From that moment Peter was moving into a new day. It was recognition that he needed saving. A few days later Jesus would meet him and restore him fully and appoint him a leader.

But he would forever remember the moment (whenever he heard the morning sound) the turning point of his life when he became a broken man that led to new life.

It’s only over when you stop recognising you are in the presence of God who can do anything!

Don’t let anger or offence disqualify you.

Don’t let hurt or despair have the last rites over you.

You stand in the presence of God so don’t tear your clothes and nullify your position.

Let me show you a couple of verses about the high priest who stood in the presence of God:

“‘The high priest, the one among his brothers who has had the anointing oil poured on his head and who has been ordained to wear the priestly garments, must not let his hair become unkempt or tear his clothes.” (Leviticus 21:10)

“Make the robe of the ephod entirely of blue cloth, with an opening for the head in its centre. There shall be a woven edge like a collar around this opening, so that it will not tear.” (Exodus 28:31-32)

Now let us read today’s verses of what Caiaphas did:

“Then the high priest tore his clothes and said, “He has spoken blasphemy! Why do we need any more witnesses? Look, now you have heard the blasphemy. What do you think?” “He is worthy of death,” they answered. Then they spit in his face and struck him with their fists. Others slapped him and said, “Prophesy to us, Messiah. Who hit you?” (Matthew 26 v 65-68)

The high priest knew what it was to stand in the presence of God. He had that experience. He was the only one in fact who knew it. To tear your clothes was to say it is over, this is too big even for God to solve. It was in fact to say I do not acknowledge the presence of the Almighty.

Even when He is standing right in front of you!

Because of Jesus we now have access to the presence of God. We are priests ourselves. There is absolutely no circumstance where we will ever need to say God is not able. The enemy of your soul longs for you to tear your clothes. He wants you offended, angry, in despair and void of hope. Do not do it. You stand in the presence of God. He is able. Do not negate your position or your identity and do not be blinded to the might of God.

Interestingly:

When the soldiers crucified Jesus, they took his clothes, dividing them into four shares, one for each of them, with the undergarment remaining. This garment was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom. “Let’s not tear it,” they said to one another. “Let’s decide by lot who will get it.” (John 19:23-24)

The robe of the final and perfect High Priest was not torn.

He is able.

Who Jesus is and who you are mean you will get through this season!

Some will be facing trials today fearing what may happen to them.

Some will be feeling a failure of what has happened.

Some will feel lonely having seen their friends desert them at the crucial hour.

Jesus shows us that in the gravest of situations you can remain confident because of who you are. Hours from the crucifixion in a kangaroo court Jesus remains calm in an atmosphere of lies and slander. How? He knows who He is and He is not afraid to declare it.

But Jesus remained silent. The high priest said to him, “I charge you under oath by the living God: Tell us if you are the Messiah, the Son of God.” “You have said so,” Jesus replied. “But I say to all of you: From now on you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.” (Matthew 26 v 63-64)

Jesus is clear, “Yes, you have just said who I am.”

But he goes further, way further!

He does away with their thought he is some militia revolutionary Messiah. He is the One prophesied in their Scriptures especially from their prophet Daniel!

The heavenly being of Daniel who in the likeness of a man comes to rule forever and lead the people of God to share in His rule, is Jesus. He is who Daniel saw 600 years previously, the Son of Man. “This is me.”

Daniel is clear that the Son of Man was human and distinct from God but he is also fully God himself. Jesus is being tried for blasphemy and yet those who stand before him will stand with the nations of the world before Him when he comes back to this earth.

Let me quote here chapter 7 of Daniel v 9- 14: “As I looked, thrones were set in place, and the Ancient of Days took his seat. His clothing was as white as snow; the hair of his head was white like wool. His throne was flaming with fire, and its wheels were all ablaze.
A river of fire was flowing, coming out from before him. Thousands upon thousands attended him; ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him. The court was seated, and the books were opened… In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all nations and peoples of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.”

What does Daniel’s vision tell us?

  • His clothing is as white as snow and unlike the kingdoms of this world he is clothed in righteousness.
  • The kingdoms of this world are caught up with fighting for power, authority and activity of all kinds but the Ancient of Days is seated and in control.
  • Daniel who so often is a figure isolated, standing for God in the midst of evil society – God has an army.
  • 1000s upon 1000s ministering before Him.
  • 10,000 x 10,000 standing before Him.

Jesus is saying I am more than you think I am. I am way beyond your view of me. You are not my judge. I am yours. I don’t stand before you. You will stand before me.

It is this knowledge of who He was that carried him through this hell of a season.

Today whatever you are facing the same thing applies. You are a child of God. A new creation in Christ. The love of Christ is in your hearts. The Holy Spirit is within and alongside you to partner with you and so the mind of Christ is in you, the grace of Christ is in you and the Word of God renews this mind daily. You are way more than what this difficult season tells you. So walk tall in the truth of who you are!

A controlled silence

I am not thinking of being so shocked that you are lost for words. Nor of feeling so intimidated that you cannot give a response. But perhaps for someone today God is teaching you what it is to have a controlled, purposeful, confident silence. Here is what I mean:

“The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were looking for false evidence against Jesus so that they could put him to death. But they did not find any, though many false witnesses came forward. Finally two came forward and declared, “This fellow said, ‘I am able to destroy the temple of God and rebuild it in three days.’ ”Then the high priest stood up and said to Jesus, “Are you not going to answer? What is this testimony that these men are bringing against you? But Jesus remained silent.” (Matthew 26 v 59-63)

So here is the picture:-

The numbers of your accusers has risen. Now it is the whole of the Sanhedrin, the full council and they have one outcome in mind, your death. But they are going to have to work hard on the truth, to twist it that is. They need stories to collaborate and that is the problem for though many come forward no story is consistent with another. But finally they get 2 people to say the same thing about what Jesus said about the Temple. This is it. They have him. He had that week cleansed the temple, he had healed the blind and the lame within it, many had heard him say he was greater than the temple and so they have their charge; this man thinks he is above the temple of God, a charge that carries the death penalty.

Now how would you defend yourself in this position? Have you ever been in a similar situation? Are you now?

Would you be outraged by the lies, the manipulative deceit and the religious nonsense?

Jesus reveals his sovereignty and his control despite the threat.

When you know the truth then you are free even if you are contained by lies. The most powerful reply you can give to someone is sometimes your silence. In this context we see silence as holy, powerful and sovereign. It is a choice and we are wise to make it.

A call to the Church to narrow the distance

“Those who had arrested Jesus took him to Caiaphas the high priest, where the teachers of the law and the elders had assembled. But Peter followed him at a distance, right up to the courtyard of the high priest. He entered and sat down with the guards to see the outcome.” (Matthew 26 v 57-58)

After deserting Jesus with the rest of the team, Peter stops in his tracks and turns around and follows again. But the man who was one of the 3, who witnessed the transfiguration, who was called to watch and pray in the garden, is at a distance.

How big is the gap? How far is the distance between the Church and Jesus?

Following Jesus can deceive you into thinking you are doing enough. You are doing more than the others, where are they? They didn’t turn back like you did. At least you are here. However, who are you sitting with and what are you waiting for?

Being in the gallery is not the same as being in the dock. One watches and waits the other receives the interrogation. Being a spectator is not the same as taking part. Cheerleading is done for the crowd not for those in the game. Church is not a place for you to ask ‘what am I getting out of it?’ you are the Church. Narrow the distance.

The programme of the Church reveals the distance.

The lifestyle of the Christian reveals the distance.

Where there is distance it is quite extraordinary who we can align ourselves with. Peter sat down with the people who had captured Jesus.

Our following of Jesus must be far more passionate, fearless and radical. We need to be in hot pursuit not hiding in the shadows. Being on the same path is not the same as being alongside the person. We must narrow the distance. That is the call.

It may look like an attack but God has you and you are safe.

When your enemy presses in hard do not fear; The battle belongs to the Lord
Take courage my friend, your redemption is near; The battle belongs to the Lord

On your worst day. When your world is turning upside down remember that day belongs to the Lord.

“In that hour Jesus said to the crowd, “Am I leading a rebellion, that you have come out with swords and clubs to capture me? Every day I sat in the temple courts teaching, and you did not arrest me. But this has all taken place that the writings of the prophets might be fulfilled.” Then all the disciples deserted him and fled.” (Matthew 26 v 55-56)

Jesus mocks the muscle of humanity against the might of the Lord.

That circumstance that you are in right now may appear mighty; the enemy of your soul may flex its muscle at you but you can mock the barking noise. You don’t have to run from your discipleship. If you remain unmovable you will understand that the attempts to frighten you come from a place of fear and intimidation itself.

The enemy of your soul traffics in dark places. Words spoken against you are often hidden. Every day Jesus was teaching in the open but they couldn’t combat his authority for truth silences falsehood. To create a new narrative based on lies then it has to be done in the hidden place to gain strength.

The enemy of your soul traffics in lonely places. During the day it is hard to bring you down. People are around and are engaging with you. He cannot strike within that popularity for fear of being unpopular. So he waits until the crowds have gone and your friends are asleep.

But …!

The battle belongs to the Lord. Your story sits in the plans of God for your life. Your worst day, the full strength of the enemy of your soul. Your greatest attack of intimidation and character assassination. The capture of your life so that you have no control over outcomes. It all sits in the might of the Almighty. You don’t have to fight and you don’t have to run. You just have to realise that God has you and He is in no way surprised. He is in control.

What weapon does the Church use?

When the Church or its leaders use the wrong weapon it sets itself up against the purposes of God.

With that, one of Jesus’ companions reached for his sword, drew it out and struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his ear. “Put your sword back in its place,” Jesus said to him, “for all who draw the sword will die by the sword. Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels? But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way?” (Matthew 26 v 51-54)

John’s gospel reveals the servants name was Malchus and that it was Peter who chopped off his ear with his sword (a dagger).

The enemy comes in the darkness and the ‘Church’ rises in the chaos and the confusion. We don’t know what the enemy is doing but we are rattled. We didn’t expect this attack, it feels like an enemy within for this crowd are not the Gentile soldiers, but we are ready. Our daggers are at hand. We have Jesus to protect, our Messiah. We have to stand for true righteousness. The manipulative kiss was unbelievable. But here now comes the pressure of the enemy. So we swing out. We react. We push back.

We hurt because we are hurt.

But wait. Here comes Jesus.

In the darkness He heals the enemies of the kingdom. Jesus heals what the Church harmed.

Jesus doesn’t need a sword. He still doesn’t.

Surviving your betrayal

I would probably have run away a few hours previously.

I would probably have asked my real friends to fight for me.

I would have probably tried to negotiate with my betrayer.

Jesus replied, “Do what you came for, friend.” Then the men stepped forward, seized Jesus and arrested him. (Matthew 26 v 50)

This is such a heart-breaking verse and one all too familiar for us. The betrayal from a friend. The attack from someone you once walked with, shared food with, laughed and prayed together with. When it all unravelled I wonder if the words, “Do what you came for, friend” repeatedly tortured Judas?

Is that where the thought sits? Or is there something more?

The essence of the gospel story is that the worst thing that could ever happen was the very best thing for God’s love to be expressed to the world.  Hold this thought.

Where the betrayal sits is crucially important for you to survive your life. If it sits in the hands of Satan then it is an enemy and begs the question where is God? But if God knows about it beforehand, if He sees it coming, if it sits in His hands where Romans 8:28 is applied then the sinful actions from someone you used to call friend may indeed form the destiny of what your life was meant to be for the glory of God. That sin of betrayal that wounded you deeply has brought you into a whole new purpose of life. I have seen it in my own friends and in my own life. Why? It is because of the realisation of where the betrayal ultimately sat. The betrayer is still guilty, they still have to give an account for what they did but you are free, for the control is not with them or Satan but with you and God. Jesus shows us at this moment He is in control of His own destiny. “Then the men stepped forward, seized Jesus and arrested him,” this had to happen. It sat in the hands of God.

Jesus had said to his disciples, “You are my friends if you do what I command.” (John 15:14) If you know that God is more in control of your life since you surrendered it to Him than anyone else, then the ‘friends’ of your life are those people who give the opportunity for what is commanded in your life to be revealed. That applies to the good and to the bad. To those who are speaking for you or against you.

Your friend maybe someone who has totally misunderstood the mission God has given you. Your friend maybe someone who has handed you over. Behind your friend the enemy maybe at work but because of what this has and is producing in you so that God can be seen then perhaps this friend really is a friend even if you no longer walk with them!