“I fought the law and the law won”
A policeman I know and his partner, by chance ran into a gang of particularly ruthless criminals they had been investigating. They knew who the criminals were and the criminals knew who they were. Surrounded and outnumbered in a suburban car park their fate seemed sealed. This was not a good situation to be in and in an act spontaneity one of the officers asked to speak to the leader of the gang in private. He said, “We have already called for backup, but they will not be here before you do to us what you’re going to do. You will win the fight against us two, but more will come,
and in need more. You may win a few battles, but they will keep coming, the law will eventually win-it has too.”
That song “I fought the law and the law won” in society, if you are guilty will generally be the case-it has too. So too when we fight spiritually against the law of God. It has too because judged against His law we are all guilty. Should we line up before the father without Christ, with our good vs.bad deeds, the scales of justice will ring soundly-guilty on all charges.
We see this in the Pharisees. Make no mistake these guys were committed to keeping the law. In general, the Pharisees strived to uphold the law and should be recognized for this.They taught the law but did not practice the most important parts of the law — justice, mercy, and faithfulness.
They obeyed the intricacies of the law such as tithing but not the real meat of the law. They exhibited themselves as righteous on account of being scrupulous keepers of the law, but were in fact not righteous: their mask of righteousness hid a secret inner world of ungodly thoughts and feelings. Jesus gave these guys a hard time, yet met with the most open and obvious sinners and didn’t condemn them. In fact he didn’t even lecture them, he seemed to just acknowledge and bring out into the open what they already knew, that they had sinned.
Like the Pharisees knew, the law is good. It keeps the world in order in striving to keep chaos from the door and promotes a healthy manner in which way to live. But they missed the essence of the law, to bring salvation.
To see the truth of their own guilt and sinfulness, and then to see God’s mercy in Christ.
These two types of people, Christ approached with the truth about themselves and about himself with Salvation open to both,but only one accepted it-the ones knowing they were sinners and who came to know who Jesus was. Likewise in today’s Gospel we see two sinners take to the stage, Judas and Peter. Judas, who in today’s Gospel is still one the twelve but would later betray Jesus for a bribe of thirty pieces of silver by identifying him to the arresting soldiers of the High Priest, who then turned Jesus over to Pontius Pilate’s soldiers.
And Peter, who in today’s Gospel after being asked along with the other disciples would they like to leave him answers (but) “Lord, to whom would we go? You have the words that give eternal life”, yet who would later deny Jesus three times prior to his death on the cross. Two sinners, whom I might add that the bible tells us were both repentant sinners.
From Matthew 27 verses 3 to 4: “When Judas, the traitor, learnt that Jesus had been condemned, he repented and took back the thirty silver coins to the chief priests and the elders and said I have sinned by betraying an innocent man to death”.
And Peter, from Matthew 26:75 after his third denial, “Jesus’ words flashed through Peter’s mind: “Before the rooster crows, you will deny three times that you even know me.” And he went away, weeping bitterly”.
Two regretful and remorseful repentant sinners, yet one-Judas would destroy himself in shame while the other, Peter, also in shame but would go onto to be one of Jesus greatest servants, how can this be? The Pharisees against open and obvious law breakers: sinners.
Two thieves on the cross, both sinners yet one is given the gift of eternal life and one is not, and here Judas and Peter.
This is the third week in a row that the Gospel has been that “Jesus is the bread of life, that those who believe have eternal life”. The Gospel that the Pharisees, one of the criminals on the cross and Judas did not get.
Most certainly Judas was repentant but like the Pharisees and one of the criminals, their responses were only in self-absorbed human ways. In the original Greek language the repentance of Judas is used as a change of mind such to produce regret and even remorse of sin, but not a change of heart. Peter too had such repentance. Peter too was conscious of his guilt and of his helplessness but he came to know the Gospel-Christ’s mercy. That although guilty, helpless and polluted and well aware of his sin, in that knowledge he came to know Christ and what he stood for-mercy, and most importantly-He accepted it.
Just like these groups of two’s I’ve mentioned, we also are tempted and coaxed by ungodly powers to take a side. The tactic of making us believe in our own holiness, of how we can become part of our salvation through our own goodness. Or Vice versa, the tactic of showing us our sin clearly and then the suggestion that we are beyond salvation, even in Christ. These thoughts are not from Christ-when they come dispel them-for they are lies. Lies designed to separate us from the truth-from the truth of our saviour.
So-Let us hear the saving truth of our lord and Saviour:
“What then? Are we better than they? Not at all; for we have already charged that both Jews and Greeks are all under sin; as it is written, “There is none righteous, not even one.” (Romans 3:9-10)
“for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23)
“I am the living bread. Anyone who comes to me will never be hungry. And anyone who believes in me will never need anything important. Everyone that the Father gives to me will come to me. If anyone does come to me, I will never send that person away. I have not come from the sky to please myself. I have come to obey the one who sent me. He does not want to lose even one of the people that he has given to me. He wants me to raise them up on the last day. My Father has decided that anyone who listens to the Son and believes in him will have eternal life. And I will raise them up on the last day.” (John 6:35-40)
“I am speaking the truth. Anyone may hear my word and believe in the one who sent me. If they do believe, they have the real life that goes on for ever. I will not judge them for the wrong things that they have done. They have moved from death into life.”
Like Peter, we too most certainly know that there is no other that we can turn to, because we know that Jesus is the Holy One who has come from God, the one who has the Word’s of eternal life.
His Words of truth, that he simply ask we accept and receive eternal salvation. Amen.