Saturday, September 06, 2008

Judas and the treasury

The New Testament is clear: Psalm 109 tells us about Judas. St. Peter explicitly connects 109.8 with Judas in Acts 1.20

(As with all the Psalms, 109 is primarily about Christ. The point of the Old Testament isn't to tell us about our forefathers in the faith or about the law or whatever, though it does all of those: it's about Christ. cf. John 5.46: " For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me; for he wrote of me.")

What I noticed yesterday was the connection between the comment in John 12.6 ("This he [Judas] said, not that he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and bare what was put therein") and Psalm 109.16.

Why do people steal? Like all sins, theft is a spiritual problem: we don't trust that God will provide for us. And contrary to the Robin Hood myth, thieves seldom steal to give: they steal to hoard. And thieves are usually niggardly, mean individuals. Sin warps us. Thievery is no different.

Luther got it right in his explanation (in his Small Catechism) of the 7th commandment: "We should fear and love God that we may not take our neighbor's money or property, nor get them by false ware or dealing, but help him to improve and protect his property and business."

The point of the commandment against theft is both negative (don't steal) and positive (be of help to others). Judas not only stole from the treasury (and begrudged those who bypassed the treasury by anointing Christ) but he hurt the poor, and kept help from them.

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