Tag Archives: Judas

Live by the Sword, Die by the Sword

“Live by the sword die by the sword” is a proverb that is as true today as it was almost 2,000 years ago. What was the original context of this saying?

Last night my Mexican homestay student during our conversation over dinner about how his day had gone mentioned that he was now afraid about going to a shopping centre in downtown Nanaimo because someone had been murdered there. I hadn’t heard about it so I checked out a local online news source to see if this was true. Public street murders are rare in Nanaimo, a small city of about 100,000 people on the east shore of Vancouver Island. Sure enough, someone had been repeatedly stabbed and had died from the wounds. Was it part of the uptick of random “stranger attack” violence or something else? Fear is on the rise in many Canadian big cities like Toronto these days. What should I tell my homestay student? And as for myself, well I regularly go shopping where that murder occurred. Should I change my shopping habits to avoid the area?

The next day I decided to go shopping at a store near the murder site. They had a sale on some beef sirloin tip roasts, which I wanted to take advantage of, you know, food being so expensive these days. As luck would have it in the check out line there was a RCMP officer, kitted out in SWAT team drab olive fatigues with the letters “DOG POLICE” printed in large letters on his body armour immediately before me. So I decided to have a conversation with the officer and opened with a joke.

“So you’re the dog police, eh? So you’re the guy the dogs call when they don’t get enough kibble or long enough walks?” The policeman smiled at me and laughed saying, “Well, that’s a new one. Most people just say something like, ‘It wasn’t me.'”

I responded, “Well, my conscience is clear. But I am wondering, officer, do you know anything about the murder that took place here yesterday?” (The police weren’t publicly releasing any information.) The DOG POLICE officer responded, “Yes, I do know a lot about it. But you and the general public don’t have to be concerned because this one was strictly a live by the sword die by the sword situation. I responded, “I’m impressed officer. You know some Scripture. Thank you for sharing.” And so, when I went home I looked up the Scripture to refresh my memory about its context and to reflect on its teaching:

Judas (one of the original Twelve disciples) showed up, and with him a gang from the high priests and religious leaders brandishing swords and clubs. The betrayer (Judas) had worked out a sign with them: “The one I kiss, that’s the one—seize him.” He went straight to Jesus, greeted him, “How are you, Rabbi?” and kissed him. Jesus said, “Friend, why this charade?Then they came on him—grabbed him and roughed him up. One of those with Jesus (Peter) pulled his sword and, taking a swing at the Chief Priest’s servant, cut off his ear. Jesus said, “Put your sword back where it belongs. People who use the sword die by the sword!  Don’t you realize that I am able right now to call to my Father, and twelve companies—more, if I want them—of fighting angels would be here, battle-ready? But if I did that, how would the Scriptures come true that say this is the way it has to be?” (Matthew 26:49-54)

Jesus’ destiny as the Lamb of God was to allow Himself to be arrested and then murdered (slaughtered as a Passover sacrifice) to pay the blood price needed to cover the spiritual debt that all of us have incurred by our sins (transgressions of God’s Law). But even at such a critical moment in his ministry, Jesus used the occasion to teach his disciples to avoid the trap of using physical violence to deal with some dispute. Something, evidently, that was never learned by the two people involved in Nanaimo’s drug trade who recently met and then settled their conflicted account with the knife.






What’s your life worth?

This morning on the one-year anniversary of the world’s worst oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, I was listing to a CBC Radio 1 interview with Kenneth Fineberg, who is also known as the “pay czar” for British Petroleum’s US$20 billion compensation fund for those hurt by that environmental disaster. Fineberg, a legal specialist in mediation and alternative dispute resolution, was previously the Special Master of the U.S. government’s September 11th Victim Compensation Fund a decade ago and wrote a book about his experience called “What is Life Worth?: The Unprecedented Effort to Compensate the Victims of 9/11.”

So, how does Mr. Fineberg place a value on a human life? Well, it’s all fairly cut and dried being mostly numbers and statistics: A) Determine how much the person was making at the time of his or her death B) Estimate how many more years could that person reasonably have been expected to continue earning such money. C) Multiply A x B + something for “pain and suffering,” and voilà, you get a sum printed off on a compensation cheque.

Of course, the party or parties who suffered the loss of their loved one can always sue and try to make the case for a higher figure. But you’re going to have to convince the judge and the jury, dollar-wise. For most people, the high legal costs for such a run through the “justice” system makes accepting the pay czar’s formula fixing the life-value of their loved one the only rational choice—even if the final figure seems low and cold.

So, have you ever stopped to figure out what YOUR life is worth? Or, maybe even, what is all human life on this entire planet worth? To most people the logical answer would have to be: “utterly priceless” or “more than the total sum of all the money and things of value in the world.” I mean, how else could you figure such enormous present and potential value?

Actually, someone once working in a capacity like a “pay czar” did put a value on all humanity’s redemptive value in monetary terms. The amount was equal to what it would cost to hire the average, full-time workingman for 120 days. In 2007 U.S. dollars this would be $22,560 in Canada or about $31,680 in the United States or $26,688 in Germany or only $16,992 in the eastern Mediterranean island of Cyprus. That was the value of 30 pieces of silver in A.D. 30.

When morning came, all the chief priests and elders of the people plotted against Jesus to put Him to death. 2 And when they had bound Him, they led Him away and delivered Him to Pontius Pilate the governor. 3 Then Judas, His betrayer, seeing that He had been condemned, was remorseful and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, 4 saying, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.”
And they said, “What is that to us? You see to it!”
5 Then he threw down the pieces of silver in the temple and departed, and went and hanged himself.
6 But the chief priests took the silver pieces and said, “It is not lawful to put them into the treasury, because they are the price of blood.” 7 And they consulted together and bought with them the potter’s field, to bury strangers in. 8 Therefore that field has been called the Field of Blood to this day.
9 Then was fulfilled what was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet, saying, “And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the value of Him who was priced, whom they of the children of Israel priced, 10 and gave them for the potter’s field, as the LORD directed me” (Matthew 27:1-10 New King James Version).

The value of Jesus’ life to his Father was priceless. But for the lawyers and compensation specialists of 2,000 years ago, 30 pieces of silver was enough. So, what is YOUR life worth?

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life (John 3:16).

So don’t place a low value on your life. You are worth more than any lawyer or accountant could imagine. As the Apostle Peter said,

You were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot (1 Peter 1:19-19 NKJV).

If you would like to hear more about your worth to God and the value of human life check out my messages “Preparing for the Passover” and “Spirit of Service” posted on http://cogwebcast.com/