Daily Devotion for May 3, 2011
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever.
Gloria from Bach's B Minor Mass, from a church where Bach was the organist and choirmaster: St. Thomas Church, Leipzig, Germany.
Prayer for the Morning
Lord, teach me to number my days aright, that I may gain wisdom of heart.
Help me do today the things that matter, not to waste the time I have.
The moments I have are precious, Lord, see that I count them dear. Teach me to number my days aright. Fill me this day with your kindness, that I may be glad and rejoice all the days of my life. Through Christ I pray,
Prayer for the Holy Spirit's Guidance
Gracious God, Send your Holy Spirit to deepen my worship life. Open my heart to the gifts and cultures which surround my church. Open my heart to the people who are different from me. In Jesus' name, I pray.
Dedication to Service
Now, oh heavenly Father, I ask to be called as a witness to your love by the love I extend to others; a precursor of your justice by my unfailing commitment to what is right and good; a lamp set on a hill, reflecting the light of Christ in my forgiveness, mercy and compassion; and a harvester of souls through my humble and dedicated servanthood. In Jesus' name, I pray,
(Additional prayers may be found at Prayers for All Occasions.)
God be with you 'til we meet again.
Forsake foolishness and live, And go in the way of understanding.
Acts 1:12-20 (ESV)
The Death of Judas Iscariot
Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath dayís journey away. And when they had entered, they went up to the upper room, where they were staying, Peter and John and James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot and Judas the son of James. All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers.
In those days Peter stood up among the brothers (the company of persons was in all about 120) and said, "Brothers, the Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit spoke beforehand by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus. For he was numbered among us and was allotted his share in this ministry."
(Now this man acquired a field with the reward of his wickedness, and falling headlong he burst open in the middle and all his bowels gushed out. And it became known to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so that the field was called in their own language Akeldama, that is, Field of Blood.)
"For it is written in the Book of Psalms,
and let there be no one to dwell in it';
Notes on the Scripture
Olivet is the same as the Mount of Olives, a pleasant place just outside Jerusalem. The "Sabbath day's journey" does not mean it was the Sabbath, but rather, describes the distance. Jews were basically forbidden from traveling on the Sabbath, but if necessary (to go to worship, for example) they could walk within a radius of 1000 yards from their residence.
We see the kernel of the Christian church in this passage; only 120 people, including eleven apostles and Jesus' family. It is the seed of plant that will overgrow the entire earth, one day; but at this time, things seemed rather precarious. They were still hiding from the Pharisees, since they preferred a cramped upper room to the outdoors, which would have been a preferable place to meet for so many. Really, the rise of Christianity from such a small group is a miracle, when you think about the thousands of religious groups that have formed and then disappeared from history after their leader died.
Notice also that Peter is the first to speak. He has already become the leader, as was anointed by Christ.
The account of Judas' death in Acts differs entirely from the account in Matthew 27:3-10, which relates that Judas hanged himself. There is actually a third account of his death from a reliable source, an early Christian bishop named Papias, that states that Judas became swollen and had his gut burst by a chariot.
It would have been hard for them to know what happened to Judas. Judas would have left without telling them where he was going, and being in seclusion, they were not in a position to investigate. None of them stayed in touch with him (which is why Peter has to tell everyone the account he has heard). They had to rely on rumor, and the rumors would have been scarce, since Judas was hardly a person of any importance in the city.