As childish as it sounds, you hear that refrain repeatedly in the Passion History, the story of Jesus' suffering and death that takes center stage during Lent.
"I told you so." That's what the rooster crowed in the high priest's courtyard, isn't it?
Jesus had told them to watch and pray so that they would not fall into temptation. They slept. Jesus told them they'd all fall away that very night, but Peter was so sure he wouldn't that Jesus got more specific: "I tell you the truth...this very night, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times" (Matthew 26:34). You know how that turned out. Cock-a-doodle-do. Translation: "I told you so."
And as we look today at one of the Old Testament prophecies of the Passion, we see an even bigger "I told you so." It's bigger because of the difference between Peter and Judas in the Passion history. This prophecy of the Passion is God telling his people what will happen when we don't properly value our shepherds, especially our Good Shepherd. He shows us what happens when we look to the wrong shepherds.
So in Zecheriah 11, God uses Zechariah as a picture of a good shepherd. He told him to shepherd, but the flock wouldn't listen. The flock hated the shepherd, so God told Zechariah to basically quit, leave them to follow the wicked shepherds they wanted to. And he did. And then we hear Zechariah speak the words of Zechariah 11:12-13, "I told them, ‘If you think it best, give me my pay; but if not, keep it.' So they paid me 30 pieces of silver. And the Lord said to me, ‘Throw it to the potter'- the handsome price at which they priced me! So I took the 30 pieces of silver and threw them into the house of the Lord to the potter."
For all of his faithful work, that's all they thought he was worth - the price of a slave, nothing. And, as had been prophesied, Judas sold his savior for that very same price.
When Naaman had come to the prophet to be healed of leprosy, he was ready to give the prophet 750 pounds of silver and 150 pounds of gold for physical healing. But for salvation, for healing of the soul, 30 pieces of silver.
We'd never do that, right?
Cock-a-doodle-do. Hear Jesus' "I told you so."
That whole scene with Zechariah was a prophecy - and 500-plus years later, Judas was the fulfillment.
Today, so are you.
All these warnings and yet we don't learn. He told us so. How many times haven't our hearts heard that when it finally dawns on us that our ways were not better than God's way, again.
Really, what was Judas' problem? The answer, the solution, the good shepherd was right there in front of him, but instead Judas looked to money to take care of him, 30 pieces of silver. And later in the story, when Judas had guilt, he looked for that love and care and help not in the Good Shepherd, but went instead to the chief priests.
True, if they had been faithful shepherds, they would have offered him comfort and forgiveness, but they weren't. They themselves had given up on the Good Shepherd and looked to themselves and their obedience for the answers, which meant that their shepherding was worthless since it didn't lead to the Good Shepherd, just like Jesus had warned them so many times.
Now apply that. When you know Jesus tells you it is important to be in Bible study and reading your Bible, when you want to use your gifts for God's work at church, but you tell yourself "Once the kids' sports are done" or "once I've got done what I need to get done at my house" or "Once my schedule changes at work" or "Once the kids are a little older" or "Once we're out of debt" or whatever it is that causes you to put that off.
Or when you're struggling in a relationship, and you know that Jesus says the answer is real forgiveness and humility, putting the other ahead of the self - but you tell yourself, "I'm not going to be walked all over" or "It will only work if my spouse tries as hard as me" or "I'll love when they love me first".
Hear the rooster crow. Remember the warning of Jesus. And then, like Peter, look to him, not like Judas to some outward actions, not to some customs and ceremonies.
Look to Jesus this season of Lent, and see what he has suffered for you. See that Sacred Head now wounded because he loves you, because he told you so that he'd lay down his life for the sheep. When in repentance you turn to your shepherd and ask if you are forgiven, there's nothing sweeter to hear than his "I told you so."
In Christ, Amen.
Jonathan Scharf is pastor of Abiding Grace Lutheran Church in Covington. Full sermons and more information can be found at www.abidinggrace.com.