Talk

WE’RE in the climax in the Book of Matthew.

Today, I want to preach the simple message, Get up.

Let me start with a very big question:

Your answer to this question is crucial. Mark this on stone: How you deal with guilt will determine your destiny.

Hey. As long as we’re breathing, we’ll still sin. The Bible says, “the godly may trip seven times, but they will get up again. But one disaster is enough to overthrow the wicked.” (Proverbs 24:16 NIV, emphasis mine).

Sadly, some fall and don’t get up.

Alas, they don’t even admit they’d fallen.

People have different ways to deal with guilt.

4 Wrong Ways To Handle Guilt

Tim Mackie, co-founder of the BibleProject (a nonprofit animation studio helping people experience the Bible as a unified story that leads to Jesus), says that the four characters in our Bible story today dealt with guilt in different ways. They are (1) Judas, (2) the Priests, (3) Pilate, and (4) the Mob…

Let’s start reading the story:

Last week, we read how Jesus was condemned by the Jewish Priests and Elders in a sham trial. But because the Jews had no power to impute the death penalty, they had to bring Him to the Romans for another trial…

But in between, Matthew talks about Judas who does the first wrong way to handle guilt.

1.Judas Judges Himself

Judas became his own Judge and Executioner. Matthew said:

Repentance consists of two steps:

Judas did Step One; He didn’t do Step Two.

He had remorse but he didn’t return to the Lord. Instead of getting up, he wallowed in the mud of his guilt.

Let me clarify this: Guilt feeling isn’t repentance.

There are two kinds of guilt—holy and unholy. Holy guilt pushes you towards God, unholy guilt pulls you away from God.

Dear friend, don’t follow Judas. Don’t become your own Judge and Executioner.

Let God be your Judge; He is more merciful than you are. Some of those who become their own Judge don’t kill themselves physically. They kill themselves psychologically. They punish themselves by sabotaging their relationships, saying no to growth, accepting mediocrity– because they believe they deserve to be cursed.

May I share more personally?

I get this comment a lot: “Brother Bo, after 40+ years of following Jesus, you must be so holy.”

Here’s how I answer: “It’s actually the opposite. In the early years, I felt I was so holy. But today, I see my sins more. But instead of being discouraged, I feel encouraged. Why? It’s like my joke: If you see me 20 meters away with no other light source but the moonlight above us, you’ll say, “Gosh Bo, you look so young and Gwapo. Are you 42?”

But if you’re 2 inches away from my face and we’re both under the blinding noonday sun, you’ll say, “OMG, Bo, you’re 55 going 68!”

I repeat: After 40+ years of following Jesus, I see my sins more today than ever before. Perhaps it means I’m getting closer to the Light. The more I see my sins, the more I see His forgiveness.

Declare this with me: “God is my Judge.” Oh, what good news!

We Don’t Know How Deep Is the Ocean of God’s Mercy

In contrast to Judas, Peter, who also betrayed Jesus, had holy guilt.

He got up and returned to Jesus.

I’ve always wondered: What if Judas returned to Jesus? There would be a 9-Day Novena to St. Judas right now.

What I love about the Catholic Church is that she confidently names who is in Heaven, but she never says who is in Hell. We have a list of canonized Saints, we don’t have a list of condemned Sinners. Because we don’t know how deep is the ocean of God’s Mercy.

For example, when I was growing up as a kid, many, especially the religious,  presumed that Judas was in Hell.

But in truth, we don’t know. We should surrender Judas unto God’s Mercy. When we go to Heaven, we may be surprised Judas is right beside Peter. Because, we don’t know, if before his last breath, Judas asked for Mercy.

Friend, have you failed God? We all have.

Judas and Peter—the two betrayers in our story. Don’t follow Judas. Follow Peter.

Get up. Return to Jesus. Throw yourself to His Mercy.

Next are the Religious Leaders…

2.Priests Cover Up Their Sin

Let’s keep reading:

These priests knew they killed an innocent man. That’s why they couldn’t accept the silver coins from Judas. So they devised a plan…

Why was a cemetery for foreigners important? Ancient Jews never cremated their dead.

Nor did they embalm them. So you’re supposed to bury the dead right away. If a foreigner died, you couldn’t transport the ashes back to his home country in a jar—or in a coffin—or it will smell really bad along the way.

So, the priests did a public service. With the money used to kill Jesus, they bought land where foreigners can be buried.

Could it have been for PR? Reputation management?

So people might say, “Aw, the Priests are so kind…”

Or did they do a good deed to assuage their guilt?

They were covering up their sin.

But this never works. We may fool people, but we’ll never fool God.

By the way, there’s a difference between covering up and restitution.

They look the same. But restitution is a part of repentance. You admit to God and others you’ve sinned—and you’re paying for the damages of your

sin as an expression of your repentance.

But the Priests were not repenting; They were rebranding. My friend, are you covering up your sin with good deeds?

Don’t. First things first. Come before God. Cry out to Him. Lay bare your soul. Confess your sin. Repent. And then do good deeds as restitution.

Get up. Say this with me:

I’m getting up! I’m returning to the Lord!

This is the third way people deal with guilt…

Pilate was the Roman Governor of Judea.

A pretty important fellow. Now notice how this big shot handles guilt.

Now Jesus was standing before Pilate, the Roman governor. ‘Are you the king of the Jews?’ the governor asked him.

Jesus replied, ‘You have said it.’ 12 But when the leading priests and the elders made their accusations against him, Jesus remained silent.

13 ‘Don’t you hear all these charges they are bringing against you?’ Pilate demanded. 14 But Jesus made no response to any of the charges, much to the governor’s surprise. (v.11-13)

 And then something unexpected happens:

Just then, as Pilate was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent him this message:

‘Leave that innocent man alone. I suffered through a terrible nightmare about him last night.’” (v.19)

 In the entire Gospel, the only other time God spoke through dreams was through Joseph, the foster father of Jesus. So this was huge.

 20 Meanwhile, the leading priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas to be released and for Jesus to be put to death. 21 So, the governor asked again, “Which of these two do you want me to release to you?”

 The crowd shouted back, “Barabbas!”

 22Pilate responded, “Then what should I do with Jesus who is called the Messiah?” They shouted back, “Crucify him!”

 23“Why?” Pilate demanded. “What crime has he committed?” But the mob roared even louder, “Crucify him!”

 24Pilate saw that he wasn’t getting anywhere and that a riot was developing.

 So, he sent for a bowl of water and washed his hands before the crowd, saying,

 “I am innocent of this man’s blood. The responsibility is yours!” (v.20-24, emphasis mine). Pilate knew he was condemning an innocent man to die.

 His wife knew it too. But he went ahead anyway. How? By playing the blame game. He blamed the priests and the mob around him.

 You know history will judge Pilate as this man who lacked the backbone to stand up for what was right. He knew in his heart that this Jesus guy, the guy that everybody was saying was a menace to society. He knew that Jesus was no harm. You want proof? Verse 13: Jesus made no reply. Not even a single charge to the amazement of the governor.

 My goodness. Pilate was amazed at this guy Jesus – that He wasn’t responding.

And you know, if anything, what we are going to learn from this is that  everybody was judging Jesus. But Jesus was silent. He was patient. Jesus was not responding. Pilate knew exactly that Jesus was harmless. But how come Pilate still didn’t do the right thing? He still did the wrong thing.

You know why?

Here’s my very humble theory: It’s because he listened to the wrong voice. He started listening to the crowd, and I’m telling you this, my friend: When you listen to the wrong voices you make up the wrong choices. If you listen to the crowd more than you listen to your conscience, you hear the crowd speaking and sometimes, when your conviction is still very shallow, you know what’s going to happen? You’ll be bullied by the opinion of others and eventually you’ll take their own conviction into your heart.

And that’s exactly what happened to Pilate.

What Is Integrity?

This is where integrity really matters. Everybody say, Integrity. You want to know what integrity is? This is my simple definition: Integrity is being able to stand in a crowd screaming for brutality, screaming for blood, and you’re the only one being for mercy. That’s integrity. Integrity is being able to say no to what everybody else is doing that you know deep in your heart is not a good thing even if it means that you’re standing alone. Even if it means that you’re part of the minority. Even if it means that you will be persecuted. Even if it means that you get singled out.

That’s what integrity is.

Somebody say this with me: We need integrity.

But instead of showing integrity, what did Pilate do?

The Bible says that Pilate started to wash his hands. And by washing his hands, he was preaching a message, saying: “Anything that you do from this moment on, it’s not on me. Guess what: It’s on you.”

Pilate was putting the blame on everybody. And I am telling you, the moment you do something wrong, when you sin, and when you start washing your hands, that’s the message that you preach: You start putting the blame on everybody else — except yourself.

I remember a friend of mine came up to me years ago and shocked me with the truth that he was going to separate from his wife of 15 years– and they have a couple of kids. And I thought they had a great marriage… And what shocked me was that, he revealed to me that the reason they were separating was there was infidelity in the relationship. And what shocked me the most was the one who committed the infidelity was my friend. For some reason, he found many excuses to blame his infidelity on the wife, on the other party.

He said, “You know, she doesn’t talk to me anymore. She nags me every day. We don’t connect like we used to. That’s why I became attracted to other women.”

Married people, listen to me. That is the worst excuse you can give if you’re in a marriage. Because, you see, when you know you’ve done something bad, when you’ve sinned, guess what: It’s not on anybody else. It’s on you. There comes a point in your life where you need to stop washing your hands, like Pilate did, and start to owning up to your sins. You humble yourself before your God, and then you receive His mercy. You receive His forgiveness. And if need be, you give that forgiveness to others. Stop blaming people. That’s the third way…

4.Mob Justify Themselves

Here’s the fourth way of how we respond to guilt — and it’s good. When we feel guilty, you know what we do? We justify ourselves. We justify the sin. That’s what the Mob did. I’m going to read it to you in Verse 25. It says:

I want to give you a little interesting trivia that I learned from Bro. Bo a few days ago. Many think that  the people who welcomed Jesus that day were the same people who crucified  Him the next day. But actually, they were two different sets of people.

Bible scholars and experts believe that the first crowd who welcomed Jesus with the palm leaves were Galilean pilgrims visiting Jerusalem that day. But the people who persecuted Jesus in the courtyard and crucified Him on Mount Calvary– you know who they were?

Check this out: They were hired by the religious leaders. They were recruited. They were the “trolls” of the religious leaders.

You know what Matthew called them? He called them a mob. M-O-B. Because by nature, a mob will never think for themselves. A mob will only follow what the majority is doing. If you’re part of the Mob, you know what you’re doing? You’re only following, and mimicking, copying what the rest are doing.

And this is how they justified it. In Verse 25, it says:

And all the people yelled back, “We will take responsibility for his death— we and our children.—Matthew 27:25 NL

It’s one thing to own up to the death of somebody. But to actually involve your children in the process? That’s a whole different level of evil, right? To say that this thing that I’m doing–persecuting this guy—it’s for me and my children. That means they were doing it for the common good. Have you ever heard that term they used when they say, It’s for the common good? Usually, here’s the irony: it’s usually for the majority– but not for the minority. Whenever you say it’s for the common good, it’s usually for the majority.

History has known this too well. This is the reason 6 million Jews were exterminated—because one man said it was for the common good of NAZI Germany. This is the reason 40 to 70 million farmers were massacred one day. Why? Because one man said it was for the common good of China. It’s for the common good of many– then it’s not for the common good of the few. It excludes the minority in the process.

And that’s exactly what they were doing here. They were excluding everybody for the common good.

But how did they justify it? Because they said this is for the children: “We will take responsibility– we and our children.”

Who Crucified Jesus?

We’re going to close. I just want to say something– to part with this thought:

That life is life.

None  of us has the power, the authority, to say who gets to live, who gets to die. That belongs to God.

God is our Judge. None of us has that power. But you know, in the end, what happened? They still crucified Jesus.

Who crucified Jesus? The priests? Yes?

The religious leaders? Yes?

The Romans. Yes? Actually, we all did. You and I included.

And you say, “But Bro. Audie, I wasn’t born 2,000 years ago. I was born in 1984. Yes, you weren’t born in 2000, but hey, sometimes, you know, your attitude in life, it’s still stuck in the past.

Let me preach this to you: You and I still  crucify Jesus. In Verse 40, it says:

Jesus now gives us this new definition of what it means to be good for all of us. You know, being good means you don’t cheat, you don’t lie, you don’t covet, you don’t murder, you don’t steal, you obey your parents. That’s what it means to be good, right? But now, Jesus is introducing this new idea of what it means to be good. To be good also means to serve those who are suffering.

So, here’s the truth: If I am not doing anything to serve the needy, to serve the hungry, to serve the home for the abandoned, to serve those who are persecuted and who are hopeless– you know what I am doing?

I am crucifying Jesus again and again. It’s hard to always do the right thing.

It’s hard to say the right words. It’s hard to act right.

Sometimes, it feels impossible to do that, right? But it only feels impossible if we’re not operating in Grace. See, Grace enables you to do things that you normally would not do, those not humanly possible to do. Grace will give you the strength, the energy, the hope, the faith for you to do the thing that God asks you to do.

Grace Makes Ways

And I want to preach this to you loud and clear: That guilt that you’re carrying right now, that’s the enemy of Grace.

Remember Adam and Eve who bit the forbidden fruit? The moment they bit that fruit, what happened? They started hiding from God, running from God. Why? Because of their guilt, their shame that made them to run away from that Grace. But this is what the enemy wants you to believe: That you always you’ll always be broken. That you’ll always be against. That you’ll always be forsaken The enemy wants you to believe that.

But what the enemy doesn’t know is that God’s Grace is greater than your guilt. What the enemy doesn’t know is that you are broken– but you are not beyond repair. You might be bruised right now– but you are not beaten. You might be a wreck in your heart and in your soul but you have been redeemed by the Blood of the Lamb that was slain to raise you up to life.

You are what I call a broken vessel. Say that loud: “I’m a broken vessel. I might be broken but I am a vessel. I am a container. I am a jar. I’m an instrument of God.”

So, let me wrap this up.

Because we know we have sinned, let me give you four Don’ts:

  • Don’t be your own Judge and Executioner;
  • Don’t cover up;
  • Don’t blame;
  • Don’t justify.

In the end, there is only one effective way to deal with guilt.

Get up and return to the Lord.

Jesus is waiting for you.

He is ready to change your life.

You’re a wounded healer. In the presence of Jesus right now, I want you to bow as we worship the Lord. I want you to think of that guilt you’re carrying…just lay your guilt at the foot of Jesus and just say it in your heart: “Lord, my guilt is in Your hands… I don’t need it anymore. You died on the Cross to redeem me and to save me so that I can surrender my life to you. And so, I give you my guilt right now. The bag that I’m carrying, it’s yours. You’re strong enough to hold it. You’re mighty enough to handle it. So, it’s yours, Jesus. Jesus, I’m wounded, but I am saved. I’m broken but I’m completely and perfectly loved.

In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

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