This week (3/20/18) there was another school shooting, and this one closer to home – about 2.5 hours south of our church in Maryland. I have friends who went to school there and who’s children go to school there. I have pastor friends who minister in that community. And I grieve with those who are impacted by yet another senseless evil act.
It is surprising and shocking that you can know and spend time with someone one day, but the very next day you discover they committed a foolish and sinful act – or perhaps that they’re now dead from the wrongful actions of another.
Today’s message is about a man we all have heard about. In fact, his name is synonymous with betrayal and aberrant behavior. The man’s name is: Judas.
Judas was a common name in biblical times.
- It is the Greek form of one of the 12 Patriarchs: Judah (cf. Matt 1:2; and also Lk 3:30).
- Also, the name: Jude is similar, and was the name of one of Jesus’s brothers (Mk 6:3).
- Other men in the early church shared this name (cf. Acts 5:37; 9:11; 15:22).
- Apparently there were two men of the 12 Disciples with the name, and one went by the name Thaddaeus (Lk 6:16; Jn 14:22). And of course, the other was Judas Iscariot, meaning: Judah from Kerioth; a town near Hebron (Mk 3:18).
Judas Iscariot was the treasurer for the disciples, but was later known not just as a traitor but as a thief (Jn 6:64; 6:71; 12:4-6; 13:2; 13:26; 14:22). All the Gospels place Judas Iscariot at the end of the lists of disciples, based on his betrayal of Jesus. Judas was present at the Last Supper, during which Jesus predicted His betrayal (Mark 14:17-21). Jesus also washed the feet of Judas (Jn 13:1-30). Surprisingly, Judas was a both a few feet from Jesus and a few days from Hell.
EXAMINE Mark 14 Jesus and Judas
Mark 14:1-2 Jesus and Judas: A Designed Betrayal
It was Thursday, the last day before the Passover, and the day Jesus would be betrayed and crucified. There is a plot between the chief priests and the scribes to arrest Jesus. The religious leaders were cognizant of the popularity Jesus had with the crowd, so they sought to capture Him quietly to avoid rioting. Assumingly, Judas had been in conversation with these religious leaders to coordinate a plan of arrest and execution of Jesus.
Mark 14:3-11 Jesus and Judas: A Disapproved Method
A woman is filled with gratitude for the grace Jesus shows to her and many others. She expresses extravagant devotion to Jesus by unsealing an expensive (about a year’s wages) perfume to anoint Jesus’s head and feet. While some thought the act was wasteful, Jesus viewed it as worshipful for her understanding of the gospel.
Judas was indignant of the wasted money. Judas followed Jesus for multiple years and likely had a different method for success and overthrowing Rome. He was tired of waiting and agreed to comply with the religious leaders plan to betray Jesus. Judas was compensated with 30 pieces of silver.
Mark 14:12-21, 43-46 Jesus and Judas: A Deceived Disciple
Jesus and the disciples coordinated their plans to host the Passover meal. They reserved a room for the group to eat and they prepared the sacrificial lamb and food elements.
Jesus identified one of the disciples as a betrayer. While all the disciples denied betraying Jesus, Judas knew it was him. Judas was part of God’s sovereignty to betray Jesus (Ps 41:9; Acts 1:16) but not entirely a pawn as he had the freedom to trust or turn on Jesus. Satan influenced Judas (Lk 22:3; Jn 6:70-71) and he chose to walk in darkness rather than light (Jn 13:27-30). And Judas conspired to betray Jesus in one of the most intimate manners, with a kiss (Mark 14:43-46).
Jesus knew His betrayer and condemned Judas to hell: “woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better that man if he had not been born” (14:21). Judas is also called a “son of destruction/perdition” (cf. Acts 1:25). In other words, God’s foreknowledge of Judas’s actions identifies him as one destined for Hell.
Judas is regretful but not repentant as he seeks to hide his guilt by returning the silver to the religious leaders (Mt 27:3-5). Yet, they reject the money and Judas is overwhelmed with guilt that he commits suicide, which also fulfills prophecy (Mt 27:6-8; Zech 11:13). Judas hung himself on a tree and likely the weight of his body broke the limb, causing his body to crash and bloody the ground (Acts 1:18).
APPLY/THINK Lessons from Jesus and Judas
- Decisions can doom, but Jesus can deliver.
Judas made many decisions that eventually led to his downfall. He followed Jesus for a season, but he was more devoted to self-success than the Savior. Judas was a traitor and a thief. He was not an innocent bystander influenced by Satan, but a betrayer of Jesus based on greedy passions. Judas’s love for money became lure for Satan to enter and cause evil (Mat 26:14 “What are you willing to give to me if I deliver him to you?”; Jn 12:4-5; also 1Tim 3:8). “Satan works on the assumption that every person has a price. Often, unfortunately, he is right. Many people are willing to surrender themselves and their principles to whatever god will bring them the greatest short-term profit.” In Judas, we see a living example of not being able to serve two masters: love money and hate God (Mat 6:24); we see one with misplaced treasure that fades quickly (Mat 6:19-20); and the deceitfulness of riches which harden the heart, blind spiritual eyes, and steal the soul (cf. Mk 4:19; 8:35; 10:21-25; 1Tim 3:8). “When you are dying… money walks away from you. It abandons you. It will not go with you to help you. And nothing that you bought with it can go either.”
- One of the marks of false faith is one who is greedy.
- Adam & Eve greedy for more than God’s provision (Gen 3)
- Cain greedy for Abel’s favor with God led to murder (Gen 4)
- Humanity’s greed for power in tower of Babel (Gen 11)
- Lot’s greedy choice of land (Gen 13:10-13)
- Jacob greedy over Esau’s birthright (Gen 27, ff)
- Joseph’s brothers greedy over father’s favoritism (Gen 37, ff)
- Achan’s greed to steal possessions at Ai (Joshua 7)
- Hannah’s envy from not having children (1Sam 1)
- Israel’s greed for a king and military might led to Saul (1Sam 8:4)
- Saul’s envy of David’s popularity led to downfall (1Sam 19, ff)
- Pharisees greed (Mat 23:25; Mk 15:10)
- Greed listed as immoral to miss heaven (1Cor 5:11; 6:10; Gal 5:20; Js 3:16; 1Tim 3:8; Titus 1:7).
- Proverbs 15:27 “Whoever is greedy for unjust gain troubles his own household.”
- Proverbs 22:1 “A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, and favor is better than silver or gold.”
- Prov 23:4-5; 28:22
- Prosperity Gospel is dangerous as it promotes greed over God. Certainly God wants to bless and not withhold good from His children. Yet, the danger of seeking God’s hand over God’s face is the trap and ruin of many person’s faith.
- In fact, Judas is an anti-Christ in that Jesus deliberately rejected Satan’s offer of material possessions and earthly comfort for the sake of God’s greater glory (cf. Mat 4:1-10). Jesus’s deliverance was the word of God (Matthew 4:4). The word of Jesus today is, “Take, this is my body and blood… for you” (Mk 14:22-24). Faith in the substitutionary life of Jesus delivers you from the penalty and power of sin.
- But Judas allowed his mistakes to master him rather than mentor him. In contrast, we must turn our letdowns into lessons; our errors into education; our sins into spiritual growth. Ultimately, the difference between Judas and Peter’s denial of Jesus is the difference between regret and repentance. We must discern how to grow in grace instead of spiraling into sin.
Eugene Peterson observes, “Among the apostles, the one absolutely stunning success was Judas, and the one thoroughly groveling failure was Peter. Judas was a success in the ways that most impress us: he was successful both financially and politically. He cleverly arranged to control the money of the apostolic band; he skillfully manipulated the political forces of the day to accomplish his goal. And Peter was a failure in ways that we most dread: he was impotent in a crisis and socially inept. At the arrest of Jesus he collapsed, a hapless, blustering coward; in the most critical situations of his life with Jesus, the confession on the road to Caesarea Philippi and the vision on the Mount of transfiguration, he said the most embarrassingly inappropriate things. He was not the companion we would want with us in time of danger, and he was not the kind of person we would feel comfortable with at a social occasion. Time, of course, has reversed our judgments on the two men. Judas is now a byword for betrayal, and Peter is one of the most honored names in the church and in the world. Judas is a villain; Peter is a saint. Yet the world continues to chase after the successes of Judas, financial wealth and political power, and to defend itself against the failures of Peter, impotence and ineptness.”
- People can disappoint, but Jesus is dependable.
This principle is a backdoor encouragement. It’s the reminder that even Jesus had a friend who failed Him. Judas disappointed the disciples and Jesus, but notice that Jesus was faithful to Judas through the end of his tragic life. Jesus knew Judas would betray, but still invited and invested in him as a disciple. Jesus knew Judas would backstab him, but still included Judas at the Last Supper and washed his feet. Jesus knew Judas would break faith, but still interceded on his behalf with His death on the cross. Unfortunately, Judas never repented and died apart from loving Jesus. But Jesus was faithful. Jesus appears uncomfortably near Judas, showing us what it means to be faithful and pursue others with forgiving grace, even when it’s not received.
- It is likely we will have friends who frustrate or fail us too. When that happens, what should you do? Do we condemn them to hell? Do we turn our backs on them? No. This side of the cross we are to extend forgiving grace. Until our or their dying breath, we do what we can to point people to Jesus. Entrust unfaithful friends to God. But remember, forgiveness doesn’t imply immediate present or future trust, but it’s a choice to not hold the past against that person.
2Timothy 2:13 “if we are faithless, he remains faithful — for he cannot deny himself.”
John 15:13 “No one has greater love than this, that someone would lay down his life for his friends.”
Proverbs 18:24 “there is a friend who stays closer than a brother.”
Hebrews 10:23 “Let us hold on to the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.”
Ephesians 4:32 “And be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another, just as God also forgave you in Christ.”
- Let Judas shake you, but let Jesus save you.
Judas was a close companion of Jesus. He lived and learned with the disciples how to follow Jesus. He sat with Jesus and studied His teaching. Judas heard more of Jesus’s sermons than most any saints in history. He was sent to minister to people and be on mission proclaiming God’s kingdom just like all the other disciples. Judas was a wolf among the sheep, and no one knew any different. Judas fooled everyone and traded eternal blessings for earthly benefits. If that doesn’t shake you then you are not alert to the things of God.
We can watch God’s work without every becoming a worshiper; we can critique without ourselves being changed. We can study in all the bible groups and serve on all the ministry teams and mission trips, but still miss God’s salvation. We can be near Jesus and even learn to be nice, but Jesus calls us to be new – born again – and transformed by the power of grace and renewal by the Spirit of God.
John 3:3 “Truly, truly, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
2Corinthians 5:17 “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”
Jesus Or Judas To Me (original David W. Brown)
Judas is a name
of praise and God’s fame,
but Iscariot has brought it shame.
For years he lived with the Savior.
Not many times did he waiver.
Yet all it took was an offer
of silver and earthly ease,
to miss God’s love and peace.
O Judas it is late.
Why must you go out in hate?
You left the table full of friends,
who would have let you make amends,
but instead you chose it all to end.
The decisions were made in haste,
but Jesus’s death was not a waste.
They died, each upon a tree,
but only one was set free.
Which one speaks to me?
- Are you close to Jesus but still missing Christianity?
Take the next step of moving from regret toward repentance and faith.
- As disciples, let us both challenge wondering sheep and confront the wolves.
- Let Jesus deliver us by the power of His word – the gospel that saves & strengthens whatever the issue.
 Moses Aberbach (Jewish scholar in Anchor Bible) writes that “in any group of teacher and disciples the disciple was never permitted to greet his teacher first, since this implied equality. Judas’ sign, therefore, was not only a final repudiation of his relationship with Jesus and a signal to the mob, but also a studied insult.” Judas was saying I’m as good as you. I always resented your claims to authority. – Tim Keller
 Randy Alcorn, Money, Possessions, And Eternity, p.41.
 John Piper, Money, Sex, And Power, p.65.