Sleep on This: Spy Wednesday (April 8)
Good evening, friend!
How is your soul? Are you resting well? Are you finding a personal rhythm in your disrupted life-schedule? There are obviously inconveniences and annoyances—and worse—to our present lockdown. But there are also good things to be found in this new life that has been imposed upon us. I pray that you are looking for them and, as the apostle Paul admonishes, thinking more about the good things and less about the bad.
I learned something today, something I have never heard before in my 63 years of life and 40-plus years of ministry. It makes me think this might be new to some of you, too. Did you know what the Wednesday of Holy Week is called in liturgical circles? Spy Wednesday! It commemorates the day that Judas went to the religious leaders as a “spy” from Jesus’ inner circle, offering to betray him in exchange for money.
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)
As you know, in the end, Judas deeply regretted his actions. After Jesus had been arrested and the wheels of his crucifixion were set in motion, Judas frantically returned to the chief priests offering a refund! But there was no going back and Judas, in his agony of regret, took his own life. (Matthew 27:1-10)
It is perhaps the saddest part of the Jesus story; that one of his hand-picked twelve, one who had spent three years with Jesus, an eyewitness to the astounding work and witness of the Messiah, would sell him out for the price of a common slave.
But sadder, and more astounding still, is this: even his betrayal would not have put Judas beyond the saving grace of Christ. If, after throwing the silver at the feet of the priests, he had run back to Jesus instead of to the noose—if he had called out to Jesus on the road to Golgotha—cried “Mercy” to him from the foot of the cross—Jesus would have forgiven him in a heartbeat—even his last heartbeat.
Imagine the witness of a restored Judas! Imagine the power of a New Testament book called the Gospel of Judas! Imagine the impact of sermons preached by the Traitor who regretted, repented and was restored by the risen Christ. Twelve disciples might have been restored and commissioned to launch the Church of Jesus. But only eleven were—because of the toxic, soul-crushing power of this demon.
Is there any greater cause of sleeplessness than the gnawing pain of regret? It is the spy that sells our peace and assurance into slavery. If, as you turn down your bed this evening, you are harrowed by any regrets—please, would you bring them to the foot of the cross of Jesus?
Lord, as I lay me down to sleep, deliver me from the bondage of my regrets. Remind me—persuade me—to run toward Jesus with my regrets, confident that nothing I have done is so ghastly that his grace and forgiveness is not greater still. How great is your love, my sweet Savior! Amen.