March 24, 2017

What’s Done Cannot Be Undone

Matthew 27:1-8

Judas threw the money into the temple and left.

—  Matthew 27:5

What was Judas trying to accomplish when he threw those thirty pieces of silver back at the priests who had paid him to arrange Jesus’ arrest? Did Judas think he could throw his own guilt back at them? Or that he could unload the evidence of his guilt—that noisy, clanking evidence he’d been carrying around for the past 12 hours?

But the deal was done, and the betrayal of innocent blood could not now be undone.

I believe that even Judas, however, could have turned around where he was and confessed his sin before God, and that God would have forgiven him—just as God has forgiven so many other betrayers who have come back to him in repentance. No sin that we are sorry for is too great for God to forgive.

But what had seized Judas was not a spirit of repentance but a spirit of remorse. Judas was sorry for himself. An old confession, the Heidelberg Catechism, describes repentance as running away from sin and finding whole-hearted joy in God through Jesus. Judas ran away, but as he fled, he tried to ditch the evidence of his sin and to run as far as possible from God and Jesus.

Feeling sorry for yourself—that is not repentance. Being sorry you got caught, being sorry someone else got hurt, being sorry things didn’t turn out is not the same as saying “have mercy on me, a sinner.”

Forgive me, Lord Jesus, for I have sinned. Use my sorrow to turn me to you and your cross. Holy Spirit, please make the Lord, whom I betrayed, my Friend again. Amen.

About the author — Fred Bultman

Fred Bultman began a “second career” as a pastor in 1997, after a first career in the banking business.  He served as pastor to congregations in the U.S. and Canada. In retirement, he continues to enjoy sharing in the ministry of the churches in and around his home in Fremont, Michigan.

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