We are now into the final chapters of our sermon series on the Gospel of Matthew. How’s your spiritual state, brothers and sisters? It sometimes feels to me as if we are still in the Lent season, even though this year’s Easter has come and gone. A few months after Good Friday and the circuit breaker, we are still in a period of waiting and longing and hoping, trying to adjust to the “new normal” – not sure when, or if, life will be back to what it used to be. Most days seem to bring more bad news of challenging times around the world, whether it be increasing numbers of COVID cases, lightning storms and forest fires, earthquakes, or explosions.
As I reflect on this weekend’s sermon topic and passage, I keep coming back to the phrase, “Is it I, Lord?” That was the question each disciple asked when Jesus predicted that one of them would betray Him at the Last Supper (Matt 26:22). And indeed, more than one of them would betray Him that very night. How could it be, that these, His closest followers and friends, who had been journeying with Jesus for the past three years, could still fall into the sin of betrayal?
Putting myself in the shoes of Judas Iscariot, I try to imagine what he was going through. We learn that he had already been stealing from the moneybag (John 12:6) before he made the decision to deliver Jesus into the hands of the Pharisees (Matt 26:14-16). But what was his motivation? Was it that Judas was disillusioned, having a different idea of who the Messiah should be? Do we ever fall into a similar trap of getting disillusioned with God, because we have our own idea of what He should be like, or what He should be doing for us? How could Judas have betrayed Jesus with the affectionate act of a kiss?
I have heard of the contrast between Judas and Peter. Both betrayed their friend and Lord on the same night; one later repented and was restored in his relationship with Jesus, while the other felt that there was no way he could be forgiven of his sins. The truth is that all of us have betrayed our Lord in one way or another. Whether it is denying that we know Him, even if it means keeping silent when we should have spoken up, wilfully choosing to do something which we know would displease God, or putting something or someone in God’s rightful place… no one is exempt.
It is good to examine ourselves daily, and confess our sins, for God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9). Even though we have been forgiven of our sins past, present, and future when we accept Jesus Christ as our Saviour, the process of sanctification is still ongoing, and we truly need His grace and strength for every hour of every day. Let us encourage each other to walk towards holiness, but also not to be guilt-ridden and wallow in our sin when we do fall.
As we continue to wait on the Lord in this period of uncertainty, let us as believers seek the Lord about what we can be doing during this unprecedented time. May we each be found faithful in this journey while we wait for His deliverance and Christ’s imminent return.
By Sister Dorcas Yap (YCKC Bulletin 30 August 2020)