We all need people to influence us. God made us that way. From the languages we speak to the character we develop—it all begins with those who surround us in our formative years.
It starts with our environment, but it shouldn’t end there. It cannot.
When it does, it’s tragic. That was the case with King Joash.
But it doesn’t have to be that way with us.
Good Friday wasn’t so good for Judas. The guilt-ridden betrayer of Jesus hung himself and then fell headlong, spilling his innards. Hence, the residents later named the place where it happened, “Akeldema,” or “Field of Blood” (Acts 1:18-19).
Judas may have chosen this place to die for a specific reason.
Today, the peaceful Monastery of St. Onuphrius at Akeldema offers no clue to the fact that Judas killed himself at that site—nor does it reveal the Hinnom Valley’s sordid history.
- Horrific atrocities occurred in the Hinnom Valley during the days of Judah’s kings (2 Chronicles 33:6; Jeremiah 7:31).
- In Jesus’ day, the city dump lay in this gorge. Some suggest that fires continually burned the trash, and so Jesus used the smoldering landfill of Gehenna as an illustration of hell’s eternal flames (Mark 9:43).
Because Jesus compared the Hinnom Valley to hell, one has to wonder if this is the reason Judas’s desperate regret led him to end his life in this ravine.
Like Judas, you have failed. But Judas’ shame doesn’t have to be yours.
Good Friday gives your shame a choice.
Peter shows us why.
Everybody sins. But when we Christians do it, reactions vary. The world points to us as hypocrites—and often uses our sins as justification for their own. Other Christians tend to view our sins as reasons to suggest we aren’t even saved.
(Photo by Bigroger27509. Own work. CC-BY-SA-3.0, via Wikimedia Commons)
But the people who offer the most brutal judgment against our sins?
Very often, it’s ourselves.
That’s because Christians struggling with sin tend to believe four lies.
The 2012 cinematic adaptation of the musical based on Victor Hugo’s novel, Les Misérables, was tremendous. But my favorite adaptation of the novel was the 1998 film starring Liam Neeson. There’s a reason.
(Photo: from Columbia Pictures, Inc. 1998)
Even though the acting is superb, and the costumes, music, and scenes look first-rate, there is another element that outshines them all.
The grace of God.
Before I show you the clip of my favorite scene, here’s a brief set-up: Jean Valjean is a ex-convict living in pre-revolutionary France. Just released from prison, he wanders the streets because no one will take him in. Finally, a kindly old bishop feeds him and lets him sleep overnight.
Let’s watch my favorite scene in the movie to see what happens.