Lent 3 Midweek 2023 (Mt 26, 57—27,10; 8th Commandment)

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᛭ INI ᛭

There’s a trail of broken commandments paving the way to Calvary. Jesus walks that trail for you and for me. As He goes He’s surrounded by broken commandments and the commandment breakers who broke them. Commandments don’t break themselves; sins don’t just happen. Some sinner broke the commandments and sinned.

Last week I told you it wouldn’t be long. “They show[ed] up with clubs, He would soon be beaten.” So He was, today. 5th Commandment broken. “They show[ed] up with swords: ’nails, spear shall pierce Him through, the cross be borne for me, for you.’” Well, that’s still coming, but this is how humanity handles our rebellion against our all-holy creator. The One who fashioned hands is struck with them. The One who spoke the universe into existence is spoken against, slandered, mocked, falsely accused. The Prince of Life “deserves death.”

Jesus’ trial causes to consider the commandments out of order, but, when it comes to how all the commandments relate to one another, the 8th Commandment shows the hypocrisy of our numbering. Because of the world, we could fall into writing number 6 as the biggest Commandment, but the real hypocrisy comes with the 8th. It would be the smallest number of all. The 8th Commandment, it seems, is the most despised of all the commandments.

(2. We don’t care about our neighbor’s reputation but our own before others.)

It’s despised because we’re by and large obsessed with reputation. We’re obsessed with our own reputation. We care what people think of us. We don’t really want people to think badly about us. We don’t want people to say bad things about us. We don’t want people to spread lies about us. (Sometimes, we don’t even want people to know the truth about us.)

This is true for the most part, but there are certain people we don’t care about when it comes to reputation—ours or theirs! There are certain people in our life that we don’t care at all what they think about us. Usually because it’s always negative. (Maybe rightfully so, if we’re honest; or maybe not!) And with those people whose thoughts about us we don’t care about, well, they are often the people whose reputations we don’t care about. (If you didn’t care about what they say about you, why trash them?)

We hurt peoples’ reputations, and if a person’s got a bad reputation, a bad name, for whatever reason, that’s what sticks. Our game is to make sure someone else’s bad name is worse than ours so that we come out ahead. We “gossip, delighting to tell others about the faults or mistakes of another, excusing [ourselves] especially by saying that what I told was only the truth.” We don’t find “ways of explaining in the best possible way those works or actions of others that hurt us.” We don’t go “to others to make peace if [we] wronged them or they wronged [us].” We fail to defend others. We don’t “bear with the weaknesses and faults of another, covering over their shame,” with Jesus’ forgiveness.

We do this because we don’t care about our neighbor’s reputation but ours before others. That is, we care what people think of us, but we don’t care people think of “you know who.”


All of this sullies our reputation before God, and that’s putting it mildly. Because it’s not just that our reputation with God is bad, but left to ourselves, in our sinful nature, our relationship with God is broken. So we sin, breaking commandments, like sullying the reputation of others. We want to be better than others innately because we’re always after a better standing with God.

Only as Saints, sanctified by the Spirit, do we recognize this sin in us (Rom 7). This is why our default position is not to care about our neighbor’s reputation. We’ve got new software, the Holy Spirit, running on dilapidated hardware, our flesh. So, we’re thankful for Jesus’ trial tonight. Where things between us and our heavenly Father—and others!—begins to be set right.

(1. Jesus doesn’t care about His own reputation but yours before His Father.)

At His trial Jesus doesn’t even defend Himself! Can you imagine such a thing? In the face of lies and half truths about Himself, Jesus is quiet! You and I wouldn’t be if it were us. We try and rationalize the truth about us, and despise even the slightest misspoken thing about us.

The chief priests and the whole council were seeking false testimony against Jesus that they might put him to death, but they found none, though many false witnesses came forward. [Finally,] two came forward, “This man said, ‘I am able to destroy [God’s temple,] and to rebuild it in three days.’” The high priest said, “Have you no answer to make? What is it that these men testify against you?” But Jesus remained silent.

Jesus is silent because He doesn’t care about His own reputation before men. When put under oath, Jesus speaks only the truth:

“Are [you] the Christ, the Son of God[?]” Jesus said, “You have said so. But I tell you, from now on you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power and coming on the clouds of heaven.”

About this, they said, “He deserves death!” Condemned for being the Son of God, a claim His resurrection proves, Jesus goes to His cross, seeking the good reputation of others. That’s most clearly seen when Jesus says, “Father, forgive them, they don’t know what they’re doing.” (Lk 23) Christ speaks forgiveness along with “explaining everything in the kindest way!”

Yet Paul’s correct, **“None of the rulers of this age understood, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.” (1 Cor 2)**

At Calvary all human reputations died—yours, your neighbor’s, everyone’s! For there Christ died as “the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but for the sins of the whole world.” (1 Jn 2) Judas had betrayed innocent blood, and Christ shed His innocent blood for Judas’ betrayal, for Peter’s denial, for the false witnesses’ slander, for the religious leaders’ seeking falsehood, and for all the things we do: Gossip, lying, and all the rest.

At Calvary, Christ “canceled the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands…nailing it to the cross.” (Col 2) You’re also given Christ’s good reputation at Holy Baptism. Christ’s reputation is “Son of the Living God.” (Mt 16; 26:63) Baptized into Christ’s death that’s your reputation, too. There’s no need to trash others to get ahead. You’ve already got everything in Baptism! No need to put down other Christians, your fellow baptized. For by Holy Baptism, we “are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal 3)“One Lord; One Faith; One Baptism” (Eph 4) “for the forgiveness of sins.”

Everyone is someone Jesus died for. Christ’s death says that their reputation with God is solid. (A reality received by faith.) We view their reputation through a Calvary lens, and call them to see things that way, too. The lens of personal reputation will cause us to act like the chief priests who were afraid of losing their reputation with the Romans! (But more on that next week… Come back for more. Don’t miss out.)


We don’t care about our neighbor’s reputation but rather our own before others. That is not the 8th Commandment. The 8th Commandment is that we “fear and love God so that we do not tell lies about our neighbor, betray him, slander him, or hurt his reputation, but defend him, speak well of him, and explain everything in the kindest way.”

Left to yourself, your treatment of that Commandment in your daily life would be your reputation with the Father—guilty, daily and much! Yet,


He does this because He doesn’t care about His own reputation but rather yours before His Father. He goes His Calvary way, shedding His innocent blood. Slandered but condemned as the Son of God, silent almost the whole way, except for wondrous words. Words like, “Father, forgive them.” He answers Jesus’ Word in the affirmative FOR YOU. (Reputation received by faith.) He does because


And you have it through Holy Baptism. “Baptized”—that’s your eternal reputation and standing. “Heir of eternal life,” as Titus 3 says. That means “son of the Father,” just like Jesus. So are all your fellow Christians. And we view all people through this lens, too. Calling them to see with us by faith that


And so you do.

᛭ INI ᛭

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