Summary: From the trials, models for handling our sin, guilt, and shame.

“Experiencing the Passion” Series

Sermon 2: “Experience Complete Forgiveness”

(From the trial scene) – March 12/13, 2005

My preaching partner old me about an old guy he talked to recently. This guy is nearing the end of his life and he is struggling. He is haunted by his sin – decisions he has made, things he has done, or not done. Randy told me he reads his Bible 30 minutes every day trying to find peace – but he can’t find any. His dad was a preacher, and the God he preached was a tough God, a vengeful God, a just God. And this man can’t get that image of God out of his mind when he reads his Bible. And so this poor old guy is being crushed by his sin, and guilt, and shame.

You’ve probably felt some of that, I hope. You know what sin is, and you know what guilt feels like, and shame. We all deal with it in some way. We have to, this sin.

Some of us try laughing at it. We try to think of it as a quaint idea, an old-fashioned notion, certainly inconsistent with more cutting edge beliefs about tolerance, and personal freedom.

Some of us don’t throw the idea of sin away, we just make light of our own. I’m not so bad – never murdered anyone (physically); never cheated on my wife (physically); never stolen anything (big); don’t lie (big); not overly greedy; not overly gluttonous, I suppose. There are a lot bigger sinners out there than me, aren’t there? I think?

Some of us become experts at rationalization and blame. When I do sin, it’s really not my fault. My parents messed up a lot – that’s why I struggle. My wife and kids provoke me a lot – that’s why I struggle. It’s a tough world out there, you’ve got to cut some corners to hold your own. Fact is, we are artists at rationalization, aren’t we? and masters at justification, and experts at blame.

And some of us simply try to ignore sin. We avoid looking up at God – too embarrassing. And we avoid looking too deeply within – too embarrassing. So we try to fill our lives with so much busyness and noise that we drown out the whisper of guilt.

But it doesn’t work. We can fool ourselves for a while, but at some point our games quit working. And then we realize that we staring into the face of those two monsters – guilt, and shame, and they are there because we know – we sin. You know you’re a sinner, and you know it matters, a lot. You realize that if there is a God, and if he is holy, your sin is serious, serious problem.

We’re in the middle of an Easter series called, “You’ve seen the movie, now Experience the Passion.” Each week we’re looking at one scene of the passion story, and drawing from that scene one of the great themes of our faith. Today we’re looking at the trials of Jesus. And I’d like to introduce you to five key players. But I want to try to see them a little differently than we’ve seen them before. Because I think these five guys kind of represent five different ways we deal with sin, and guilt, and shame.

First guy – Judas. Let’s watch a short clip. . .

I don’t know what was going on in Judas’ head. Some folks actually think he was trying to do Jesus a favor when he betrayed him. Maybe Judas believed Jesus really was God’s king, but he was getting impatient for Jesus to make his move. So maybe Judas thought that by getting him arrested Jesus would have to make his move, and kick the bums out, and set up the kingdom they’d all been waiting for. . . But probably not. More likely Judas was just a jerk, a self-centered opportunist, a traitor. Probably he’d grown disillusioned with Jesus, and jumped on an opportunity to make a few bucks.

I don’t know what his motive was for sure, but I do know this – he sinned, and his guilt and his shame overwhelmed him. When Judas realized what he had done, he couldn’t take it. He tried undoing it, he tried giving the money back. Didn’t work. So he couldn’t live with himself. He couldn’t look himself in the mirror, he couldn’t face his friends, he couldn’t face God – so he ended it all . . . with a rope.

There are a lot of people like Judas. Sin flat out crushes them. Most of them don’t kill themselves, but they do wallow in their sin, and in their guilt, and in their shame till it sucks the life right out of them. They try to handle their sin by internalizing the pain and punishing themselves, beating themselves up, imprisoned by their past. Some of you are kind of like Judas when it comes to coping with your sin.

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