Lent with Bonhoeffer, Friday, March 8, 2013
Revised Common Lectionary second reading (NT reading)
2 Corinthians 5:16-21 (ESV)
 From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer.  Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.  All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation;  that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.  Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.  For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
Symbols of Lent: Bag of Silver Coins
Not only does the bag of silver coins represent the bounty paid to Judas for his treachery, it also can be used to remind us of the price that Christ paid to purchase our freedom. While Judas was unfaithful and sought personal gain, Jesus is always faithful and bestows on us the gift of salvation. Even though, like Judas, we betray Him, he will never betray us.
 Then one of the twelve, whose name was Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests  and said, “What will you give me if I deliver him over to you?” And they paid him thirty pieces of silver.  And from that moment he sought an opportunity to betray him. (Matthew 26:14-16 ESV)  While he was still speaking, Judas came, one of the twelve, and with him a great crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests and the elders of the people.  Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, “The one I will kiss is the man; seize him.”  And he came up to Jesus at once and said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” And he kissed him.  Jesus said to him, “Friend, do what you came to do.” Then they came up and laid hands on Jesus and seized him. (Matthew 26:47-50 ESV)  Then when Judas, his betrayer, saw that Jesus was condemned, he changed his mind and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders,  saying, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.” They said, “What is that to us? See to it yourself.”  And throwing down the pieces of silver into the temple, he departed, and he went and hanged himself.  But the chief priests, taking the pieces of silver, said, “It is not lawful to put them into the treasury, since it is blood money.”  So they took counsel and bought with them the potter’s field as a burial place for strangers.  Therefore that field has been called the Field of Blood to this day.  Then was fulfilled what had been spoken by the prophet Jeremiah, saying, “And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of him on whom a price had been set by some of the sons of Israel,  and they gave them for the potter’s field, as the Lord directed me.” (Matthew 27:3-10 ESV)
Lord Jesus, as we remember your betrayal by Judas we are reminded that we betray you, too.
Forgive us we pray, and confirm in us the knowledge that you will never betray us.
O God, whose glory it is always to have mercy:
We look at Jesus, and we look at ourselves,
and we confess the great difference.
Truly Your ways are higher than our ways,
and Your thoughts than our thoughts!
Forgive our unfaithfulness;
conform us to His love.
We thank You that through the resurrection
Your grace abundantly pardons and transforms us!
Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
We speak, third, of the service that consists in bearing others. “Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ” (Gal. 6:2). This law of Christ is a law of bearing. Bearing means forbearing and sustaining.
***The brother is a burden to the Christian, precisely because he is a Christian. For the pagan the other person never becomes a burden at all. He simply sidesteps every burden that others may impose upon him.
The Christian, however, must bear the burden of a brother. He must suffer and endure the brother.
***It is only when he is a burden that another person is really a brother and not merely an object to be manipulated.
The Bible speaks with remarkable frequency of “bearing.” It is possible to express the whole work of Jesus Christ in this one word.
“Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows . . . the chastisement of our peace was upon him” (Isa. 53:4-5).
***Therefore, the Bible can also characterize the whole life of the Christian as bearing the Cross. It is it the fellowship of the Cross to experience the burden of the other. If one does not experience it, the fellowship he belongs to is not Christian. If any member refuses to bear that burden, he denies the law of Christ.
***But if the Christian lets God create His image in his brother, the Christian gives the brother his freedom and the Christian bears the burden of this freedom of another creature of God. The freedom of the other person includes all that we mean by a person’s nature, individuality and gifts, etc. It also includes his weaknesses and oddities, which are such a trial to our patience, everything that produces frictions, conflicts, and collisions among us.
This is a mercy for the Christian: when sin occurs in the community of believers, the Christian needs to/must examine and blame himself for his own unfaithfulness in prayer and lack of intercession, his lack of brotherly service, of brotherly correction and encouragement, indeed, for his own personal sin and spiritual slumber, by which he has hurt himself, his Christian friends, and the community.
***Since every sin of every member burdens and indicts the whole community, the congregation rejoices, in the midst of all the pain and the burden the brother’s sin inflicts, that it has the privilege of bearing and forgiving. “Behold, you bear them all, and likewise all of them bear you, and all things are common, both the good and the bad” (Luther). The service of forgiveness is rendered by one to the others daily. It occurs, without words, in the intercessions for one another.