The words burn deep in our hearts. Jesus said, “It is the one to whom I will give this piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish.” Then, dipping the piece of bread, he gave it to Judas Iscariot….As soon as Judas took the bread, Satan entered into him. “What you are about to do, do quickly,” Jesus told him….but no one at the meal understood why Jesus said this to him. Since Judas had charge of the money, some thought Jesus was telling him to buy what was needed for the Feast, or to give something to the poor. As soon as Judas had taken the bread, he went out. And it was night.
Now Judas, who betrayed him, knew the place, because Jesus had often met there with his disciples. So Judas came to the grove, guiding a detachment of soldiers and some officials from the chief priests and Pharisees. They were carrying torches, lanterns and weapons. Jesus, knowing all that was going to happen to him, went out and asked them, “Who is it you want?” “Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “I am he,” Jesus said. And Judas the traitor was standing there with them. Then the detachment of soldiers with its commander and the Jewish officials arrested Jesus.
When Judas, who had betrayed him, saw that Jesus was condemned, he was seized with remorse….He returned the thirty silver coins to the chief priests and the elders. “I have sinned,” he said, “for I have betrayed innocent blood.” “What is that to us?” they replied. “That’s your responsibility.” So Judas threw the money into the temple and left.
Then he went away and hanged himself. The chief priests picked up the coins and said, “It is against the law to put this into the treasury, since it is blood money.” So they decided to use the money to buy the potter’s field as a burial place for foreigners. That is why it has been called the Field of Blood to this day.
Now comes the big task of replacing Judas in the line of Apostles. It seems odd to cast lots or dice to select a new Apostle. This is a holy moment! And they roll dice.
A certain man decided to make a living by gambling in the lottery, and indeed, he was lucky. He won millions. When asked how he did it, he replied, “I was smart and I was lucky. I like the number 7. I figured two 7’s would be luckier than one, so I multiplied 7 times 7 and put all my money down on number 48 and I won!” The friend said, “But 7 times 7 is 49, not 48!” The man replied, “I know, that’s the lucky part.”
Casting lots among the Jewish people was very natural. All of the Temple offices and duties were settled by casting lots. Names were written on stones, placed in a vessel and shaken. When a stone fell out the ones name on it was selected. Major decisions were made by casting lots.
Charlie Steinmetz built the giant generator for Henry Ford’s first auto plant in Dearborn, Michigan. One day the generator broke down, and work at the plant ground to a halt. Ford called in a series of mechanics to work on it, but none could restart the generator, and Ford’s losses were mounting by the day. In desperation, Ford called on Steinmetz. He came to the plant, looked at the generator for awhile, then pulled out a wrench and hit it with a loud crack. With that, Steinmetz threw the switch and put the plant back in business. A few days later, Ford received a bill for $10,000. He returned the invoice to Steinmetz with a hand written note: “Don’t you think this is a little high for just hitting a generator? Please itemize the bill.” In a few days, Ford received a second invoice. This one read as follows: “For hitting generator – $10. For knowing where to hit – $9,990.” Knowledge is a valuable thing. It can make the difference between wasted energy and effective service.
Peace is not the absence of trouble. Peace is the presence of God. As Christians we have the presence of God in our lives, the Holy Spirit. Sometimes decisions are “black and white.” We can clearly see the difference between right and wrong. We can clearly see the better choice. But sometimes we have to trust the leading of the Holy Spirit.
There are four principals in following the leading of the Holy Spirit. What does the Bible say? Is the issue morally and ethically correct with scripture? Are there stories in the Bible that are similar to the issue before us? The Bible doesn’t give all the answers but it gives a great deal of answers. Prayer and fasting are important in knowing God’s will! It purifies our lives and relationship with God. It humbles us and in humility we listen to God. It forces silence and in silence we are not distracted by the world. Look for signs of God’s guidance. Gideon looked to a lamb’s fleece. Moses looked to the supernatural. The wise men followed a star.
Even the early Christians wanted miracles. But signs can be difficult to understand and follow. Look for God’s handiwork but don’t be totally dependent upon that handiwork. And never be naive about signs. Lastly, how do you feel? Trust God’s leadership! We generally feel good about the direction God is taking us. Please note: Not fear. Not uncertainty. God will lead us.