Tuesday, April 7, 2015

“Numbers of Hope-30” (Matthew 26:14-16)

S-1489 MT/3B 4/02/2015 Hymns: (O) #388; (S) #370; LS #146; #314; #155;

Texts: Psalm 130; Zechariah 11:7-14; 1 Corinthians 11:23-29; Matthew 24:14-25; 27:1-4

Theme: “Numbers of Hope-30 (Matthew 26:14-16)

7th sermon in sermon series on “Numbers of Hope

Question: What is the most treasured possession you have?

“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

People of the cross, tonight we are bystanders in the Upper Room in Jerusalem. As you are standing in the shadows listening and observing, I want you to look closely at the figure in the center of the room—Jesus. In the middle of supper Jesus does something totally unexpected. Taking off His outer garments He goes around the table washing the disciples’ feet one by one, the way the lowliest slave in the household would. It is a demonstration of His absolute humility, love and care-a demonstration He will repeat for the whole world the next day on the cross not with towel and basin, but with His hands and feet pierced with nails and with His blood issuing from His pierced side and brow.

This night was one the disciples would NEVER forget. It is a confusing, confounding and depressing night! Their Lord and Master washes their feet like a slave He tells them the unthinkable that one of them will betray Him and another deny Him and He will meet His fate on the wood of the cross. He told them it was coming, but they couldn’t see it right before their eyes! What a confusing, confounding, and depressing night!

That night the disciples will behold the depravity of man and the delight of God. They will see on display the lawlessness of man and the love of God. They will see the gruesome heart of man, and behold the grace of God. They will see the darkness of man, and the light of God who reveals His plans to bless His people for which He came to save them…by giving Himself as the ultimate sacrifice on the hewn cross of Calvary.

This night we are drawn to Jerusalem and into the Upper Room to see, hear and learn the love of God the Father in sending His Son to be betrayed for 30 pieces of silver. PAUSE.

Saints in Christ, it was Shakespeare who said “That ingratitude is sharper than a serpent’s tooth.” The old Serpent from Genesis three with venomous desire was still going after the children of God. Tonight, this evil foe had hooked Judas to perform one of the most treacherous and traitors deeds in history. And yet, Jesus loved Judas and the eleven till the very end.

His unconditional love did not cease. Therein is our hope as we think about the number 30. For thirty pieces of silver the Lord of heaven and earth is sold, betrayed, and made the pawn of a bribe. The august leaders of the Sanhedrin had changed from the Supreme Court of the law to a supreme court of lawlessness. They were willing to do anything to silence Jesus and put Him to death.

We must also remember that Jesus loved them—He loved them until the end. Upon the cross as history’s Great High priest Jesus would pray for them...“Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”

Let it be known among us that these religious leaders knew what they were doing. They had no idea they were being used by the devil, doing the very bidding of the one who had seduced Adam and Eve into sin, rebellion, darkness, and lawlessness.

The love of money is the root of all kinds of evil observed St. Paul. The religious leaders were fearful not only of losing power but also money. Jesus’ second clearing of the Temple threatened the plush income of at least nine thousand priests.

When Judas asked the religious leaders the question saying, “What will you give me if I deliver Him over to you?” They chose carefully their response. They offered Judas with a shameful pitiful amount, “Thirty pieces of silver.”

Exodus 21:32 made clear that “thirty pieces of silver” was the price of a slave, or the price for two donkeys. Moreover, that amount was the going rate for some 1500 years earlier. So Jesus was worth, in their perverted minds, the price of a slave from 15 centuries before.

Martin Luther said that one drop of Jesus’ blood was worth more than all the treasures this earth could offer. Tonight we receive Jesus’ body and blood in the Lord’s Supper because of a meal Jesus instituted on the night He was betrayed—for thirty pieces of silver. Thirty becomes a number of hope for us because it reveals Jesus steadfast love for all mankind even in the midst of the wrecked betrayal. It becomes a number of hope because it implicitly reveals that Jesus kept the law of God perfectly in our place even under the most adverse circumstances.

Anyone who has ever been betrayed knows the deep hurt. And to be betrayed for the price of a slave—the low price of a slave from 1500 years before—was triple insult. Any of us at this point would have been tempted to say, “To Hades with you all! I am going to call down the holy wrath of my heavenly Father upon the whole lock, stock, and barrel of you all.” Instead, Jesus loved them to the end, even knowing ahead of time He would be betrayed for 30 pieces of silver. After all, that is what Zechariah had foretold in the O.T. reading. PAUSE.

For 30 pieces of silver the life of Jesus is purchased. For the price of a slave, Jesus is sold. This price is paid by the corrupt officials in the hope of silencing and putting Him to death. But they fail to see that these 30 pieces will change our lives forever—we, who have been slaves of Satan and sin; in Christ, become free and blood-bought children of our loving Savior.

Ironically, the 30 pieces of silver weighted about 12 ounces. Jesus would endure this insult to bring about salvation for the 12 tribes of Israel, the 144,000 number that no one could count. We noted in our last sermon, we as the Israelites through being baptized into the body of Messiah Jesus are part of that number. For us, Jesus endures the 30 pieces of silver to turn it into salvation for the 12 tribes, symbolized beneath the surface by the 12 ounces of silver. That is the nature of Jesus, constantly working everything together for the good of His redeemed.

You should also know that the 30 pieces of silver was equivalent to about 120 days of wages for a common worker. Mary Magdalene who anointed the feet of Jesus saved up a whole years worth of wages to purchase the expensive perfume she used. Ironically, Mary worships at the feet of Jesus, just as Moses did at the Burning Bush and Joshua did just shortly before the walls of Jericho coming down. Moses, Joshua, and Mary Magdalene—all connected in their worship of the anointed One. Mary, by the power of the Holy Spirit, understands not only that Jesus must die for the sins of Israel, but she understands far more than the religious leaders of Israel, the worth of the Holy Son of God. She evidently caught on early what the disciples missed...what the wise men alluded to...that Jesus was born to die, specifically for the Jews first and for all nations.

Her hope was built on nothing less than Jesus blood and righteousness. Thirty is a number with many facets: The children of Israel mourned for 30 days when Aaron died and when Moses died. It is, of course, a number for betrayal as well as for the perfect and triumphant. King David was 30 years old when he began his work as king just as Jesus was 30 when He as King began His ministry. Joseph was 30 years old when He ascended to the right of Pharaoh; Jesus was 30 years old as He began His work toward the ascent to the Right Hand of the Father as Risen Savior. Thirty is a number of 3 times 10, the 3 for the Triune God times 10 for His completed work—His completed work of salvation. If Jesus indeed is the perfect High Priest who was like us in every way except without sin, then He must go through betrayal...betrayal by His own people, the Supreme Court of religion, and by Rome and US. For we too, sadly have betrayed Him.

Beloved people of the cross, on Maundy Thursday Jesus gave to His disciples a new commandment. A Mandatum...the root word for Maundy...A new mandate I give you, that you love one another even as I have loved you. This would be a love that overcomes betrayal, abandonment, torture, humiliation, and more. Moreover, Jesus knew that He would rise from the dead and give to His disciples a great commission to bring the gospel to all people, to run the good race, and live out a life of faith.

In order to do this...they would need grace upon grace. Such grace would come in Holy Baptism, Holy Absolution, and the preaching of the Holy Gospel. But Jesus wanted to give His disciples an added gift—the Lord’s Supper. Knowing full well that many of His own disciples would suffer betrayal throughout history, on the night Jesus was betrayed for 30 pieces of silver, a price of a slave. Jesus took on the role of a slave—for US. PAUSE.

On this night we remember that Jesus willingly suffered for us this betrayal precisely because it led to the cross. There Jesus would do His deepest redemptive work and reveal to us the only love strong enough to work faith in our hearts and make us truly humans—people who through the working of the Holy Spirit take the living God of all grace at His Word. The 30 pieces of silver gives us hope because they are part of the story that leads us to the cross and open tomb, baptismal washing and the Lord’s Supper.

For 30 pieces of silver He was willing to be betrayed, so that we might be blessed. He was willing to endure the Cup of suffering to give us His Cup of salvation. He was willing to be sold for a slave’s price to make us His princess and princesses. Jesus was willing to be beaten, to give us His bounty in the blessed meal that awaits us. Therefore, I say to you rejoice tonight as you receive this sacred Meal...a Meal of love—first consecrated on the night our Lord was betrayed. Receive something worth more than 30 pieces of silver, or all the gold in the world, Jesus’ body and blood for the forgiveness of sins. Amen.

Now the peace…


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