2014年5月2日金曜日

So That God May Help You (Matthew 26:14-27:61)


①Matt 26:14-46 “Stand up! Let’s go! Look! The man who will betray me comes.”

1
 Jesus was praying at Gethsemane after Last Supper. Jesus prayed, “My father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me.” (39) His suffering, arrest, insult, and murder were about to come. His disciples were about to betray him. So even Jesus could not accept his harsh destiny, and asked for God’s help. But his disciples, Peter, and the two sons of Zebedee, at that time seem to us to be humorous. Jesus said to them, “Stay here and keep watch with me.”(38) But the three disciples fell asleep. Jesus found them sleeping, and he told them to watch and pray so that they would not fall into temptation. But again they fell asleep. When he found them sleeping, he did not wake them up. And he prayed again. Then he returned to the disciples, and he found them still sleeping.

2
 Ms. Kubo said to me, “Why were they so sleepy? I think that they drank wine heavily at the Passover dinner.” She said so, because she experienced a Holy Thursday dinner. When I heard her, I found her convincing, and laughed. Later I found similar imagination in Harutsugu Yamaura’s book “Jesus at Galilee.” He translated the Bible into the Kesen dialect. Yamaura wrote, “I was exhausted by my daytime work. In addition, I ate heartily, and drank wine heavily. And I walked out a long way at night. So wine pervaded my whole body. Then it was impossible for me to stay awake.” (“Jesus at Galilee” --Four Gospels of the New Testament, translated by Harutsugu Yamaura, E Picks Publication)

3
 The three disciples were very sleepy, though Jesus told them to stay awake. Jesus did not say anything to them, and left them. “Then he returned to the disciples and said to them, ‘Are you still sleeping and resting?’ “(45 in the New Interconfessional Translation) Yamaura depicted them as follows: “Jesus muttered with a sigh, ‘I cannot help it. Well, O.K. Get more sleep and rest! ‘” Those who would arrest Jesus came there, guided by Judas. Jesus offered a gloomy prayer. In contrast, the disciples fell into sleep. Jesus did not scold them, but changed himself to accept them. The disciples did not understand Jesus’ thought, his prayer, his suffering at all. But his plan of salvation went along without their understanding.

4
 We are like Jesus’ disciples. We stand far from God’s expectation. But Jesus accepts us, saying, “I cannot help it. Well, O.K.” God regards our actions as regrettable, but he accepts us as we are, and he helps us. God’s love is like parental love for us.

5
 When the tense situation came, Jesus said to his disciples, “Stand up! Let’s go!” You may think that Jesus was going to escape from the danger with them. But he did not try to escape from the danger of arrest and his suffering. He went forward to face his difficulty of his own accord. He accepts our weakness, and he himself stands up to save us from our difficulties.


② Matt 26:47-27:14 “I have sinned, for I have betrayed innocent blood.”

1
 Peter understood Jesus. I think that Peter was strong, because he dared to face his difficulties, encouraged by Jesus. He declared, “Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will.”(26:33) But when Jesus was arrested, Peter deserted Jesus. Peter still cared about Jesus, and came at night to see how things would go with Jesus. Then he saw Jesus was judged unfairly, and was given the death penalty. Further, the people spit in his face and repeatedly struck his face. Peter’s decision and strong will were smashed to pieces. When he was asked his relationship with Jesus, he said, “I don’t know the man.” (26:72, 74) “What you are talking about.” Our will is fragile. When we know the danger comes, we think about ourselves only, forgetting what we should do righteous in such a situation. It is surely important for us to think about our safety in the case of coming danger. But the problem is that we think nothing about any other matter. Peter came to worry about Jesus but, in a real situation, he took care about himself only, forgetting Jesus.

2
 Judas seems to be a mirror image when we compare Peter with Judas. Judas did not understand Peter’s way of following Jesus. Judas thought about how he was able to use Jesus, rather than follow Jesus. Then he sold Jesus to the authorities for his own profit and his position. Therefore Judas has become a byword for betrayer. But Judas was seized with remorse after Jesus was condemned. He realized his mistake. He said, “I have sinned, for I have betrayed innocent blood.” Both men are depicted as contrasts. The one made a firm decision, but ran away later. The other sold Jesus, but was seized with remorse later.

3
 Which is more appropriate for Jesus’ disciple, a man who says something without action, or a man who sins but knows his wrong later? We have to recognize both factors in ourselves. Jesus goes to the cross for our salvation from both. Further, Jesus tries to save human beings who do wrong but do not know that it is wrong. Jesus tries to save human beings who neither speak nor act for people in difficulty. Jesus leads them to live together with care and love. We have a dark nature that we are more likely to cut bonds rather than take care of them. God has sent us his son to walk on the way to the cross to reddem our darkness. God takes responsibility for our faults, and we really experience God’s grace for us.


③ Matt 27:15-61 “He saved others, but he can’t save himself.”

1
 Jesus received the malice directed toward him in his life. He had a clear intention to connect hatred to love, dispute to forgiveness, separation to unity, doubt to faith, disappointment to hope, darkness to light, and sorrow to joy. His defeat at being put on the cross because of the malice toward him paved the way for us to love, forgiveness, faith, hope, light, and joy.

2
 None of those can be realized without care for others. Jesus’ life, symbolized by the cross, was thoroughly for the salvation of others, not for Jesus himself. In this sense, “He saved others, but he can’t save himself” is true. Jewish leaders used these words to mock Jesus, but they expressed all of Jesus. Jesus did not save himself, but saved others. He was sent for that purpose. God made even those who tried to exclude Jesus tell about Christ, who “did not save himself but saved others.”

3
 There is a description about the Lord’s Servant in Isaiah chapter 50. Jesus is prophesied here. “I have not been rebellious; I have not drawn back. I offered my back to those who beat me, my cheeks to those who pulled out my beard; I did not hide my face from mocking and spitting.” (50:5-6) And the servant referred to his trust in God two times. “Because the Sovereign Lord helps me, I will not be disgraced.” “It is the Sovereign Lord who helps me.” Isaiah faced severe persecution and violence, including his death. But Isaiah told us about his hope to overcome the difficulties through the hope that God would help him.

4
 Surely it is a great encouragement for us that we can trust God when we experience suffering. But Jesus at Gethsemane; Jesus for Peter; Jesus to Judas; and Jesus who was hated and disgraced, show us that the purpose of his suffering is to help those who slept without knowing their Lord’s suffering, to help those who betrayed Jesus regardless of their commitment in advance, and to help those who used Jesus for their own profit but felt remorse, and to help those who tried to kill Jesus.

(This is the English translation of Rev Nobuo Yasui’s sermon which is to be preached at Hongo Church on April 13, 2014)

(Translated by Toshiyuki Masujima)