30 Pieces of Silver
The End of America?
Sunday, March 4, 2012
By Al Gray
Today’s message will not be light. It carries leaden words that may be mindful of Jonathan Edward’s Sinners in the Hand of an Angry God. It was not written in humor, jest, or any frivolous sense.
We are all Judas. His story is of greed, betrayal, anger, and despondency. Ours is the same. We are at the Betrayal stage. Sadly most will make the choices that Judas made. Some won’t. In which group will we be?
For brevity let’s turn to this saddest of men in Matthew 26, verse 14 in the New International Version.
14 Then one of the Twelve—the one called Judas Iscariot—went to the chief priests 15 and asked, “What are you willing to give me if I deliver him over to you?” So they counted out for him thirty pieces of silver. 16 From then on Judas watched for an opportunity to hand him over.
Next Mark 14, 43-48 tells of betrayal and anger.
43 Just as he was speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, appeared. With him was a crowd armed with swords and clubs, sent from the chief priests, the teachers of the law, and the elders.
44 Now the betrayer had arranged a signal with them: “The one I kiss is the man; arrest him and lead him away under guard.” 45 Going at once to Jesus, Judas said, “Rabbi!” and kissed him. 46 The men seized Jesus and arrested him. 47 Then one of those standing near drew his sword and struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his ear.
48 “Am I leading a rebellion,” said Jesus, “that you have come out with swords and clubs to capture me?
Finally, Matthew 27, 1-6 tells of abject despondency.
1 Early in the morning, all the chief priests and the elders of the people made their plans how to have Jesus executed. 2 So they bound him, led him away and handed him over to Pilate the governor.
3 When Judas, who had betrayed him, saw that Jesus was condemned, he was seized with remorse and returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders. 4 “I have sinned,” he said, “for I have betrayed innocent blood.”
“What is that to us?” they replied. “That’s your responsibility.”
5 So Judas threw the money into the temple and left. Then he went away and hanged himself.
About now you are thinking, if I am Judas, where are the 30 pieces of silver? Who is it that I am betraying?
Back in those days, money was silver or gold. Today it is electrons or paper. Later in Matthew 27, verse 6, the biblical Judas’ silver was referred to as “blood money.” What is our blood money? This writer submits that it is our entitlements. Readers might think “I have no entitlements!” at the same time they grouse that “48% of the USA receives a government check!” Therein lies the thorny truth. Nearly 100% of the people in the USA has at least one entitlement, some have 5 or more. Most folks the author’s age see Social Security as earned, not an entitlement, choosing to forget that we let the fund be raided by politicians decades ago. Throw in Medicare, government retirements, FDIC insurance, credit union deposit insurance, federal pension insurance, and everything else and you might begin understanding. Yes entitlements are our blood money and the amount of it exceeds $210 trillion, as Economist Lawrence Kotlikoff claims. This is more than $680,000 apiece for every one of us!
Now that we know we all are expecting blood money, who and what is being betrayed? The easy answer is future generations. To think it will be limited to them is wishful thinking. We have betrayed each other, our beloved Constitution, and the basic foundations of a functioning, civil society, with our ceaseless, unwitting, and unlimited demands that government create ever increasing seas of blood money! Judas had blood money. If you think ours isn’t very literally blood money, look at where it is to come from and the impossibility of peacefully extracting it!
Yes, brothers and sisters, we are caught heavy handed in betrayal, having taken blood money to satiate our greed and politics to make it flow universally.
Next will come anger. Matthew and Mark reported that one of those accompanying Jesus drew his sword and cut off the ear of one of the high priest’s servants. John reports that the swordsman was Simon Peter. The anger then and the armaments then were from one. We have millions of the betrayed with millions of guns and billions of rounds of ammunition. Can we belay and control this anger? We must try. The alternative is too terrible to contemplate.
The final acts of Judas were recognition of how horribly gone wrong with greed he had become, despondency in that knowledge, and taking his wasted life under an overwhelming pall of grief for his treachery.
What will it be for us? Will we force violence, war, and even servitude for our children, grandchildren, and future generations as Nehemiah was seeing in his day? The Constitution would have protected them and us from our avarice. The Constitution would have continued to guarantee their freedom and ours. The Constitution demands the rule of law, central to every functioning society since creation. We gutted the Constitution and one day will feel the lament of Judas from having betrayed that product of the sacrifice of so many heroic Americans.
Look what is happening. MF Global, a trusted primary dealer of the Federal Reserve Banking system, just stole $1.5 billion in cash from customer accounts. The CEO, a former US Senator, faces no charges. Closer to home, a publishing magnate and his lieutenant lost $150 million and saw remaining assets placed in receivership, only to turn to the generous teat of local government with separate real estate holdings to milk $50 million in free buildings and equipment, plus $600,000 a year to operate them! Many aging unemployed are reaching for disability pay. The banks that largely caused the financial crisis are flooding toxic assets under the FDIC entitlement umbrella. No nation can withstand these things!
What of those entrusted with positions of leadership and trust? Jesus had to face a corrupt high priest, remember? Sadly, even our ministries of today are so dependent upon our corrupt monetary system, that their voices are bought off and silenced. The accounting rules mavens have responded to the epic fraud, not with outrage, but with surrender in the form of making fraud ‘legal.’ We won’t even mention the politicians.
There is hope and there may be a bright end instead of the despondency of Judas.
We have each other. We can change. We have the Bible. We can regain our faith. We can restore the constitution. It was too late for that Judas. We still have time.
Besides, our blood money doesn’t really exist no matter how much political power is exerted. Soon it will all be gone. Math says so and math stands next to God. God says so, too, but you have to listen.
We made one heck of a mess in pursuit of Judas. We must resolve not to carry it through to the same end. Jesus showed us the way and the path to follow.
Count your blessings. All the money that turned us, every one, into Judas is gone. This will be plain very soon. You will see. Let’s send the greed, anger, violence, treachery, and despondency of Judas with it. We will work harder than we ever imagined in our old age. We will ache. We will hurt. We will die out, one by one. Justice will reemerge. We won’t die like Judas. We won’t die as slaves.
The next generations will be free. America will rise again. God Bless America!
Al Gray, High Reverend of The Church of What’s Happening Now
Al Gray, High Reverend of The Church of What’s Happening Now
Last Week’s Sermon:
Every One Raised Up; Walk!