God, deliver us from evil. Amen.
Text: Matthew 26:21–25
Now as they were eating, He said, “Assuredly, I say to you, one of you will betray Me.” And they were exceedingly sorrowful, and each of them began to say to Him, “Lord, is it I?” Then He answered and said, “He who dipped his hand with Me in the dish will betray Me. The Son of Man goes as it is written of Him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been good for that man if he had not been born.” Then Judas, who was betraying Him, answered and said, “Rabbi, is it I?” He said to him, “You have said it.”
The most terrible and most detestable part, the devil has accomplished: that one of Jesus’ own apostles betrayed the Lord and then hanged himself, because of his greed. Such a horrible deed could be aroused by nothing other than this most poisonous seed. Paul rightly says that “the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil” (1Ti 6:10)! What glorious gifts have been destroyed! And what evil and anxious things have often come from it! Balaam was a man, with great gifts from God, but he let himself be enticed by Balak’s money. Then he seduced Israel to idolatry and adultery and great misfortune, and died miserably by the sword of wrath. (Read about him in Numbers 22-25 and 31:8; likewise Revelations 2:14.) Samuel’s sons and Elisha’s servant and Ananias and Sapphira and many more became examples to warn us. We pastors are accused of greed more than anything else, and people like to talk about “the holy ones,” saying that they are particularly fond of money. These accusations have not come from love, and there is no more truth in them than in accusing all of Jesus’ disciples with Judas’ guilt as a bunch of greedy scoundrels. But it is certain that Satan completely wants to lay the snare of greed before all the faithful, especially before the souls of pastors. And if he could get one of the Twelve, then let none of us be smug!
Our Bible text shows the awful strength of the chains in which the devil held Judas. Jesus says first that one of them shall betray Him. Already this ought to have pierced through Judas’ flesh and bones, but – they were all troubled, except for Judas. So this did not alert him to the danger of the way he had determined to go. The Lord says more, that He knows him, and speaks these shocking words, that Judas must indeed serve God’s plan, but “it would have been good for that man if he had not been born.” All in vain, all in vain! Greed has given the devil such power that he now completely fills Judas’ soul, and the Savior’s warning can only harden him completely and thoroughly.
Are you aware, Christian friends, of this leech that is never satisfied (Pro 30:15)? Kill it immediately, with its young, or it shall not only eat the poor among you, but suck out your own life blood. Watch with diligence – repent daily and completely – heed God’s Spirit – keep yourselves continually under the cross of Christ. By these things your walk shall be made free of greed, but rich in noble works.
My God, “draw me to You, and tear me away from the fearful, deceitful comfort of created things, for no created thing can satisfy my hunger or calm my trouble. Unite me with You in the indissoluble bond of love, for only in You does the one who loves have enough, and without You all is sin and vanity.” Amen.
Awake! awake! Repent and pray!
By faith prepare thyself each day
To die in peace unfearing!
The Christ embrace, thy sins deplore,
The naked clothe, and feed the poor,
By works thy faith declaring!
O man, O man! Before thy God
Thou soon shalt have a hearing!
Gothus, Wallin: Amid the world’s deceitful cares L 456:6 LHy 391:6 tr. C. Døving;
tune: I denne Verdens Sorger sænkt (LHy 391); alternate hymn: Thee will I love ELH 409