Over the years I have written several "book" or "booklets" and many, many, many newsletter and bulletin articles. Because the book market seeks writings to meet specific needs at specific times, my material has never been accepted. I have a tendency to write what is on my mind and so I am left with self publishing. So, with the encouragement from my wife and others, I am beginning this blog in order to put my "ramblings" "out there"! I hope you enjoy!
Please note that while my intentions are to use good grammar, because of the way in which some of the material presented here is presented (orally) the grammar and syntax might not always be the best English. Also note that good theology is not always presented in the best English so there may be times when the proper grammar rules are purposely broken.
Wednesday, March 1, 2017
Judas - March 1, 2017 - Ash Wednesday - Text: Matt. 26:14,16,25,47,49; 27:3,5; Mark 14:10,43,45; Luke 22:47,48; John 12:4; 13:2,26,27,29,30; 14:22, 18:2,3,5
We call the Word of God the “Good News” and rightly so, for it is the good news of salvation for all who believe. This year during the season of Lent through Easter Sunday we will be hearing of the events surrounding the suffering and death of Jesus through the different characters of those involved in the events. Prayerfully, we will get a better understanding of the personalities and thus the reasons for the specific actions of the characters through actual Biblical statements and “quotes” of each person. On Maundy Thursday and Good Friday we will move to address the events of each of those days and then resume with our characters on Easter Sunrise and Easter Morning.
This evening we begin by looking at the character we might want to “hate the most.” Please understand I am not here to illicit sympathy for Judas, but I think it is important to understand Judas as a person, after all he too is loved by God and he was chosen and called by Jesus to be one of the Apostles.
What do we know about Judas? We do know that he was one of the twelve, one of the inner circle of Jesus closest disciples, even an apostle. He was called by Jesus and was with Him for the three years of His earthly ministry. Certainly he had ample opportunity to listen to Jesus, to watch Him, to see the signs, wonders and miracles He performed. Although we do not know of his early life, his childhood, his upbringing and what he was taught as a child and so on, yet perhaps we might conjecture that he was raised and taught as any Jewish boy, that is he was taught the Jewish faith and the promise of a Messiah. And perhaps as many in his day did not completely understand the prophecies, especially the spiritual nature of the prophecies, but instead had come to understand the promises as promises of an earthly deliverance, so too with Judas. Perhaps, just perhaps he understood Jesus in terms of an earthly Savior. I believe this presupposition helps explain much of his behavior as we will see.
What do we know about Judas? We do know that he betrayed or better said, sold information about Jesus as he went to the chief priests and asked, “What are you willing to give me if I hand [Jesus] over to you?” So they counted out for him thirty silver coins. From then on Judas watched for an opportunity to hand him over” (Matt. 26:14-16). We also know that the chief priests “were delighted to hear this and promised to give him money. So he watched for an opportunity to hand him over” (Mark 14:11).
We do know that Judas knew Jesus regular routine, when and where He would be, and Jesus knew this as well. We are told that “when evening came, Jesus was reclining at the table with the Twelve. And while they were eating, he said, ‘I tell you the truth, one of you will betray me.’ They were very sad and began to say to him one after the other, ‘Surely not I, Lord?’ Jesus replied, ‘The one who has dipped his hand into the bowl with me will betray me. The Son of Man will go just as it is written about him. But woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man! It would be better for him if he had not been born.’ Then Judas, the one who would betray him, said, ‘Surely not I, Rabbi?’ Jesus answered, ‘Yes, it is you’” (Matt. 26:20-25).
We might surmise that Judas did not think Jesus knew what was in his heart. As they were celebrating the Passover, and after Jesus spoke of His betrayal we are told, “After he had said this, Jesus was troubled in spirit and testified, ‘I tell you the truth, one of you is going to betray me.’ His disciples stared at one another, at a loss to know which of them he meant. One of them, the disciple whom Jesus loved, was reclining next to him. Simon Peter motioned to this disciple and said, ‘Ask him which one he means.’ Leaning back against Jesus, he asked him, ‘Lord, who is it?’ Jesus answered, ‘It is the one to whom I will give this piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish.’ Then, dipping the piece of bread, he gave it to Judas Iscariot, son of Simon. As soon as Judas took the bread, Satan entered into him. ‘What you are about to do, do quickly,’ Jesus told him, but no one at the meal understood why Jesus said this to him. Since Judas had charge of the money, some thought Jesus was telling him to buy what was needed for the Feast, or to give something to the poor. As soon as Judas had taken the bread, he went out. And it was night” (John 13:21-30).
Later that same night Jesus took His disciples out to the Mount of Olives, a small garden in which Jesus often went in order to have some private time alone. We know that Judas was not with Jesus and the disciples when they went to the Mount of Olives, but he arrived later. We are told that, “While [Jesus] was still speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, arrived. With him was a large crowd armed with swords and clubs, sent from the chief priests and the elders of the people. Now the betrayer had arranged a signal with them: ‘The one I kiss is the man; arrest him.’ Going at once to Jesus, Judas said, ‘Greetings, Rabbi!’ and kissed him” (Matt. 26:47-49). “But Jesus asked him, ‘Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?’” (Luke 22:48). “Jesus, knowing all that was going to happen to him, went out and asked them, ‘Who is it you want?’ ‘Jesus of Nazareth,’ they replied. ‘I am he,’ Jesus said” (John 18:4-5a).
We know that because of Judas’ actions, Jesus, the one who is called the Christ was arrested and taken in for questioning. There were many in Jerusalem who believed that Jesus was the one about whom the prophets had spoken, that a Savior of the world would be born and that this man is that Savior, yet many did not understand what that meant, whether an earthly Messiah like their deliverance from Egypt or a spiritual, sin forgiving Messiah. At the same time, we know that His followers abandoned Him. As the events of the evening transpired one might surmise that the trials had been rigged and that in fact the leaders of the people, the Sanhedrin, the teachers of the Law, the Scribes and the Pharisees, had been trying to get Jesus arrested, tried and prosecuted, hoping for the death penalty.
Again from the Words of Scripture as well as from his actions we might believe that Judas, who lead authorities to arrest Jesus and who was one of His followers also believed that Jesus was the promised Savior, but perhaps did not understand what it meant that He was the Messiah. Judas may have done what he did because he wanted to force Jesus’ hand. In other words, according to what Judas may have believed about Jesus being the Messiah, the Savior, it may be that he believed Jesus to be the one who would come and overthrow the Romans from rule over his people, the people of the Jewish nation. Anyway, perhaps Judas believed Jesus to be this Savior and because He had not yet started an uprising, or a revolt, he believed the best way to get Jesus to begin was to, “call his hand.” This may account for his plot with the authorities, whom he knew were already trying to find a way to arrest Jesus and he lead them to Jesus to have Him arrested.
Following His arrest and what were truly illegal trials through the night Jesus was indicted. He was given the death penalty and was awaiting to be crucified. During all His trials Jesus either spoke very little at times and spoke nothing at all at other times. Following His conviction we are told that “when Judas, who had betrayed him, saw that Jesus was condemned, he was seized with remorse and returned the thirty silver coins to the chief priests and the elders. ‘I have sinned,’ he said, ‘for I have betrayed innocent blood.’ ‘What is that to us?’ they replied. ‘That’s your responsibility.’ So Judas threw the money into the temple and left. Then he went away and hanged himself” (Matt. 27:3-5).
We might make note here that Judas did have remorse. He was sorry for what he had done. He even repented. His problem, if we might call it that, was that he did not believe that Jesus could or would forgive him, that is what lead him to despair and what lead him to kill himself. Indeed, Judas died in unbelief and that is what condemned him.
Life is not always what it seems. Many times there are two sides, sometimes even three or more sides to each story. Judas thought he was doing his people a favor by betraying the one he thought to be the Savior. Indeed, how often do we find ourselves in our own lives doing something we think is right for what we believe to be the right reasons only to find ourselves betraying our Lord as well? Thanks be to God that Jesus is the Messiah, the Savior, the Christ, the One who came, lived, suffered, died and rose so that we do have forgiveness, life and salvation. Thanks be to God that the forgiveness Jesus won, bought and paid for is ours and is freely given, even poured out on us. Thanks be to God that because forgiveness is ours we are moved to repent and in repenting we know our sins are forgiven. Thanks be to God for His love and indescribable gifts. To Him be the glory, for Jesus’ sake. Amen.