Reflections: Wednesday of Holy Week

Today’s Reading: Luke 22:1-23:56

Daily Lectionary: Exodus 10:21-11:10; Hebrews 4:1-16

Then Satan entered into Judas called Iscariot, who was of the number of the twelve. He went away and conferred with the chief priests and officers how he might betray him to them. And they were glad, and agreed to give him money. So he consented and sought an opportunity to betray him to them in the absence of a crowd. (Luke 22:3-6)

In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Hard hearts are hard to understand. You might get this, at least a little bit, if you have ever apologized to someone and they wouldn’t forgive you. That is a difficult situation. In Exodus, Moses records that there had been ten plagues calling the people of Egypt and the people of Israel to repentance. Pharaoh’s heart was hardened. It even says that the Lord Himself hardened Pharaoh’s heart. That can be troubling. Why would God harden Pharaoh’s heart? The Lord explained why He did this in Exodus 7:3-5: “But I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and though I multiply my signs and wonders in the land of Egypt, Pharaoh will not listen to you. Then I will lay my hand on Egypt and bring my hosts, my people the children of Israel, out of the land of Egypt by great acts of judgment. The Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord, when I stretch out my hand against Egypt and bring out the people of Israel from among them.” The Lord did this so the Egyptians would know this was the Lord’s doing, and the people of Israel would be delivered by the hand of the Lord. 

Scripture doesn’t say that Judas Iscariot had a hard heart, but Luke does say that Satan entered into Judas. He agreed to turn Jesus over to the chief priests. But Satan can’t do anything that God doesn’t allow him to do. Why did God allow Judas to betray Jesus? Why did God let this bad thing happen to His only-begotten Son? It was in order to show His grace. It is by the betrayal and death of Jesus that hearts would be called to believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah. It is by the shedding of the blood of Jesus that you are made holy before God. God’s work is seen even as Jesus is betrayed and as He died for you. Jesus has the opposite of a hard heart. For you, a sinner who has not obeyed God’s Law, He has shown the depth of His mercy. He has rescued you from sin, death, and the devil. That’s the Gospel truth. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. 

Merciful and everlasting God, You did not spare Your only Son but delivered Him up for us all to bear our sins on the cross. Grant that our hearts may be so fixed with steadfast faith in Him that we fear not the power of sin, death, and the devil; through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen. (Collect for Wednesday of Holy Week)

-Rev. Peter Ill is pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church in Millstadt, IL.

Audio Reflections Speaker: Rev. Duane Bamsch

Learn more about your favorite hymns and find the deeper meaning behind the text with Eternal Anthems: The Story Behind Your Favorite Hymns. The book includes devotional commentary and historical facts from forty different contributing authors on fifty different hymns. Now available from Concordia Publishing House.