Sermon – April 9, 2020 – Maundy Thursday

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David R. Clark  ~  Luke 22:47-48  ~  April 9, 2020  ~  Maundy Thursday


47While he was still speaking a crowd came up, and the man who was called Judas, one of the Twelve, was leading them. He approached Jesus to kiss him, 48but Jesus asked him, “Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?”

 Brothers and sisters in Christ,

In February when I first heard the report about a virus in China, I didn’t pay much attention. When cases were reported on the East Coast, I noticed it, but it was far away. When our schools were closed and everyone was urged to stay at home, it suddenly became personal. Thank God for the help we have from our medical personnel!

As Christians we are always aware of temptation in the world. It’s easy to look at what is happening in society morally and see the danger temptation holds. But when we start seeing what temptation does in our own lives, it’s different. Now it becomes personal and it is clear we need some help in that battle.

This evening we consider just how personal such a battle is waged.

  1. The struggle within Judas

It was right after Jesus and the disciples had their last meal together. They had gone out to the Garden of Gethsemane on the Mount of Olives. When Jesus had finished praying, Jesus woke his disciples and “while he was still speaking a crowd came up, and the man who was called Judas, one of the Twelve, was leading them. He approached Jesus to kiss him, but Jesus asked him, ‘Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?’” (Luke 22:47,48).

Judas went up to Jesus and singled him out for the soldiers by dramatically kissing him (a traditional greeting that would have been on both sides of the face). But the soldiers and Jesus knew what it really meant:  He was using the display of friendship to betray and hand over our Savior to his enemies.

By that time, Judas’ personal battle had already been lost. This is what we know about the temptations Judas faced:

  • He had been helping himself to some of disciples’ money (John 12:6).
  • Satan had entered into him and pushed him to go to the chief priests to get paid for betraying Jesus—30 silver coins on the spot (Luke 22:3; Matthew 26:15).
  • Before the Supper: “As soon as Judas took the bread, Satan entered into him. So Jesus told him, ‘What you are about to do, do quickly’” (John 13:27).
  • Jesus had warned that one of the disciples would betray him (John 13:10,11) and had said it was a fulfillment of the OT prophecy. Judas ignored the warning.

To me, the most surprising part is that when Jesus told the disciples that one of them was going to betray him, they didn’t all look directly at Judas. “His disciples stared at one another, at a loss to know which of them he meant” (John 13:22). The battle against Satan was a personal one for Judas and for all of his disciples.

  1. The struggle within us.

Don’t we know how true that is? Maybe you know, but maybe you also wonder what kind of temptation Satan will use in your heart.” St. Paul said, “In my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death?” (Romans 7:22-24).

There is a war here! We want to trust Jesus with all our hearts, but our faith is under attack. Our sinful flesh is weak. Maybe you get guilt flashbacks and you feel dirty and unworthy of Jesus. Could it be something going on right now? Are you living right now in disappointment? Perhaps depressing thoughts have been working against your faith causing you to lose your cheerful spirit to serve and give? Have you been getting spiritually lazy? And what about your prayer life? Do you see the temptation within?

  1. Our hero loves us every day of our lives!

We have a warrior who can help us fight these battles and sneak attacks! St. Paul rejoiced: “Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Romans 7:25).

There is a stronger hand than ours on our hearts closing the gate against Satan’s war within us. Jesus is the defense against our sinful flesh and Satan’s battle for us. How? Our betrayed Jesus never betrayed us! When Jesus voluntarily gave up his life on the cross, God cleared you of every charge. The only thing that God sees in you is the holy, perfect life of Jesus! He has made that freely available for everyone.

Jesus is the starting point in our personal battle against temptation. He has given us some wonderful weapons to help us grow stronger in faith, to become more like him, to brighten our vision of our final home in heaven, to give us a bolder life, to enlarge the daily joy we already have in him! There are two weapons in particular for our personal struggle against Satan and sin:

The first is his powerful Word with all those promises. God’s Word makes our faith stronger, and it even alerts us to the temptations of Satan! It’s both our armor and our offensive weapon (Ephesians 6).

Second, that special meal, the Lord’s Supper. Although we cannot celebrate it tonight, our warrior provides each of us personally with his true body and blood. Whenever I feel like I’m slipping, this meal points me back to Jesus. He gives me the forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation that he has battled to win for me. My battle against Satan is personal, but so is this Supper:  My Warrior’s flesh and blood with the bread and wine to strengthen me.

The battle is personal for all of us. Our Savior’s help is just as personal. Walk with him, rely on him, and you will have all the help you will ever need. Amen.