The Betrayer

Matthew 26:14-16

(Sorry there’s no video for this sermon, the battery in the camera died)

Introduction:  I’ve never met anyone named Judas.  Have you?

  • Even atheists steer away from the name

It has every negative connotation of a bad person associated with it

  • Conniver
  • Greedy
  • Dishonest
  • Murderer
  • Betrayer

Not just any ol’ Betrayer either—Judas Iscariot is the man who betrayed Jesus of Nazareth, he is the. Single. Person. Most. Responsible. for Jesus’ death

5 points:  1. Predestination, Providence and History;  2.  Tale of Two Poles (God’s sovereignty and human responsibility);  3.  Earthly Living and Earthly Vision;  4.  Judas’ Apostasy;  5.  The Real Danger of Apostasy

  1. Predestination, Providence and History—when you come to a story like Judas’ in the Bible you come face to face with the problem of evil/sin
    1. How does this kind of evil square with God’s goodness? And is every single evil thing that has happened or will happen really a part of God’s sovereign plan?  Did God predestine Judas to betray Jesus? 
    1. Predestination is often though of in terms of salvation salvation, but in reality, predestination is interwoven with Providence, too.  Everything happens within God’s providence and according to how God predestined things to happen.
    1. Providence isn’t just the good stuff—even though that’s how we usually think of it, as Christians. “IN God’s providence, we found the perfect house.”  Not so much “in God’s providence my tire blew out, the car flipped, and now I’m paralyzed.”
    1. But as Job said to his wife, “Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?”
      1. We have to say a little bit more about Job’s statement (Job 2:10)
      1. He didn’t charge God with sinning—Job used the word evil in the sense meaning a terrible situation, like a natural disaster
      1. He recognizes that there are legitimately bad things that happen
        1. And those things happen according to God’s design and plan
      1. Then he submits himself to God’s design and plan
    1. In Judas’ case, his sin is actually one of the most documented sins that happened according to God’s plan in the Bible
      1. John 17:12  While I was with them, (Jesus prays) I kept them in your name, which you have given me. I have guarded them, and not one of them has been lost except the son of destruction, that the Scripture might be fulfilled.
        1. Judas was lost just as the OT had said he would be—just as God said he would be
      1. Luke 22:22 For the Son of Man goes as it has been determined, but woe to that man by whom he is betrayed!”
        1. It was already determined that Jesus would be betrayed and crucified.
      1. Acts 2:23  this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men.
      1. Finally Acts 1:16  “Brothers, the Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit spoke beforehand by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus.
        1. RH study Bible, “Scripture teaches God’s decree, which takes place by sovereign necessity” (1558).
    1. History is history, because God predestined it and providentially worked to make it all happen.
    1. Everything that happens happens because God decreed it would, but that doesn’t alleviate human responsibility
    1. But that doesn’t alleviate man’s responsibility
      1. Just considering Judas, I’ve already quoted two verses whare we see Judas’ sinful guilt
      1. Luke 22:22 “woe to that man by whom he is betrayed”
      1. Acts 2:23  “you crucified and killed Jesus by the hands of lawless men”
    1. Which brings us to the second point:
  2. The Tale of Two Poles—God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility
    1. Tension—not a contradiction
      1. Tension because we aren’t God and his ways are higher than ours—we can’t ever believe that we will comprehend God
        1. We will understand some of God—apprehend
        1. We’ll grow in that apprehension as we grow in our knowledge of the Word and our wisdom in applying it
        1. But we can’t Comprehend God
        1. Finite beings can never comprehend the infinite God who is
      1. Tension because we are fallen and we don’t see things rightly—this is slightly different than the “we aren’t God point”
        1. Our fallenness shades our intellect for the worse
      1. Tensions are part of our faith
        1. The Christian holds the most dear truths in tension, it’s how God revealed himself and we can’t change what he said to suit our feelings
        1. For instance:
          1. The person of Jesus
          1. The Trinity itself
          1. God’s immanence and transcendence
      1. If we give up the tensions, or try to reconcile them completely, we’ll be left without the perfect hope that is only found in the truth
        1. The truth sets you free—not a theological understanding that you can wrap your head around because you took away all the tensions in the Bible
    1. So, what sense can we make of Man’s responsibility within God’s sovereign plan
    1. We start at the beginning:  The Garden of Eden—Adam and Eve had free wills that were neutral, they could choose obedience or disobedience.  They were made without any bias to goodness or sin.
    1. The fall—Adam chose sin, he chose to listen to the snake over God because he desired what Satan offered more than what God offered
      1. The fall plunged man into sin
      1. All his desires became evil, mankind’s thoughts were now evil and sinful
      1. Gen. 6:5  The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.
    1. Man still has free will, but his will and his desires like the rest of him is evil and sinful
      1. It’s not that man can’t willfully choose God, it’s that he doesn’t have a desire to apart from God’s grace. 
      1. Man’s will is bound in sin, because his heart’s desire is always for sin
    1. Man After conversion—the Christian has a new heart, made alive by the Spirit of God, so he now desires God, Christ, and holiness, because if you can clearly see the choice between God and Satan, between heaven and hell, who in their right mind chooses hell?
    1. Even though God’s decree is always carried out, man has a role in it, a responsibility to carry out God’s revealed will
    1. With respect to Judas, he was more responsible for Jesus’ death than any other person who ever lived, even though so many verses make it clear that Jesus died according to God’s plan.
  3. Earthly Living and Earthly Vision—Judas clearly didn’t see the spiritual reality of Jesus
    1. Now, at that time, none of the disciples knew as much as we do about the spiritual reality of Jesus
      1. Acts 1:6  Jesus is getting ready to ascend to his throne, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?”
    1. But it wasn’t about intellectual knowledge—it was about knowing the truth
      1. John 14;6 “I am the truth the way and the life…”  Judas didn’t really know Jesus, if he had he wouldn’t have betrayed him
      1. Knowing the truth in terms of knowing Jesus
    1. The other eleven didn’t know everything, but they did know the one everything pointed to.  John 6:68 “to whom shall we go?  You have the words of eternal life.”
      1. Their understanding and faith wasn’t fully developed, but it would grow.
    1. Judas didn’t see that Jesus had the words of eternal life—he was living by sight and not by faith. 
      1. It could be Judas joined Jesus’ band of disciples as a Jewish Zealot seeking to establish Israel’s kingdom and when he saw that Jesus’ ministry wasn’t going to do that, he betrayed his savior.
      1. Or over the period of three years Judas just became disenchanted with faith and service.
      1. Whatever the case, in Judas we see a case of Apostasy.
  4. Judas’ Apostasy
    1. If you can rank apostasy, this is apostasy of the first order
      1. The darkest day of human history
      1. On the day of Jesus’ crucifixion, Matthew 27:45 says it was dark from noon until 3 pm while our Lord hung on the cross
      1. It was the day when Satan thought he won.  The Son of God was dying on the cross, the whole land was dark, and all of it because Judas stopped following Jesus and betrayed him instead.
    1. You ever wonder if Judas could have been saved? 
      1. The answer has to be yes—there is no sin so great that Jesus’ sacrifice cannot cover it.
      1. The Apostle Paul refers to himself as the chief among sinners, because of the evil destruction he committed against Jesus’ church.  Acts 8:3 “Saul was ravaging the church, and entering house after house, he dragged off men and women and committed them to prison.”
      1. When Jesus appeared to Paul on the Damascus road, he said “Paul, why do you persecute me?” 
        1. Not the church
        1. Not my people
        1. Jesus said Me…just like Judas sent Jesus to his death, yet Paul was saved—what was the difference?
    1. Both men felt guilt
      1. Paul said he was the chief of sinners
      1. Judas hung himself out of guilt (Mattthew 27:3-5)  Then when Judas, his betrayer, saw that Jesus was condemned, he changed his mind and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders, saying, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.” They said, “What is that to us? See to it yourself.” And throwing down the pieces of silver into the temple, he departed, and he went and hanged himself.
    1. But True repentance is more than guilt
      1. John Calvin, “True Repentance is displeasure at sin, arising out of fear and reverence for God and producing, at the same time, a love and desire for righteousness.  Wicked men … feel sorrow and distress over sin because the grief presses heavily and painfully upon them, but they don’t hate their sin.  This is the reason why their grief is useless, for they do not turn cheerfully to God, or even aim at doing better.” (Church History Bible, 1465)
    1. For Judas it was only grief and apostasy—there was no faith, no turning, no repentance
    1. He could have been saved, but he never repented he never believed even though he was so very close to Jesus.
  5. The Real Danger of Apostasy
    1. If one of the twelve can turn, we all must commit ourselves to self-examination, making sure we are in the faith.  2 Cor. 13:5
    1. The New Testament tells us true believers are safe, but it also talks about the possibility of turning away from the faith in many places.
      1. True believers are safe, but not everyone who calls themselves Christians are true believers. 
      1. Not everyone who is part of the visible church is part of the true church, which is invisible. 
      1. Just like it was in the OT: not all of Israel is Israel.
    1. Which brings us to application:
    1. There’s so much we can learn from Judas—not to copy him, obviously, but to learn about God’s design and as a warning.
      1. First—Judas teaches us that we are responsible for our sins.  Yes, our sins fall within God’s decreed plan, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t guilty for committing them.
        1. Don’t sin—start by learning what it means to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength.
        1. And learn what it means that God desires mercy, not sacrifice.
      1. Second—Judas teaches us about suffering.  You can’t think about Judas without thinking about Jesus’ suffering.  Judas caused it, but Jesus’ suffered according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God.
        1. When believers suffer greatly, at some point you will ask God, “why”?
        1. You can’t see any good for the pain and anguish that ultimately God is responsible for.
        1. It’s helpful to remember your savior in your suffering, because in Jesus, the second person of the trinity, who became man for his people, we see devastating suffering.  He descended from heaven, from never knowing any pain, and not knowing personal anguish to knowing All of it, all at once.
          1. All of his peoples’ anguish
          1. All of his peoples’ burdens of guilt’
          1. All of his peoples’ pains
          1. All at one time
        1. In terms of our suffering–We don’t know why, and probably won’t ever know the specific answer to Why?—but because Judas betrayed Jesus, we can see the “how”.  Hanging on the cross, being punished by the Father for our sins, Jesus turns to Him and says “into your hands I commit my spirit.”
        1. So, How do we suffer?  To suffer rightly and to suffer with Christian dignity—we turn into God’s grace, into God’s presence, even though we know he could’ve stopped our suffering, or even prevented our suffering, we turn into God’s presence and say with Jesus “into your hands I commit my spirit.”
      1. Finally we learn to be content from Judas.  He grew discontent with following Jesus.   
        1. We all get discontent.  We change the center of our lives from Jesus to something else, some blessing that God gives to everyone, but we turn that blessing into our goal and meaning.
        1. When we do that, we’re not “Christian the true follower” anymore.
          1. We’re “Christian the wealthy” when money becomes our center—our idol
          1. Or “Christian the secure” when it’s not about being rich, but just being comfortable, or being able to retire when I want
          1. Or we’re “Chrisitan the happy”, when our personal joy and the joy of our people becomes the thing we want more than anything else.
          1. Or maybe you’ve become “Christian the just”, counting on all wrongs to corrected in this world
        1. The problem with all those idols:  money, security, happiness, and justice, or any idol is that only JESUS can sustain the immense weight of your faith.
        1. Everything else will crumble and fail.
        1. The antidote is to recognize your discontent—like Judas, you’ve succumb to Earthly Living and Earthly Sight, you’ve stopped living by faith.
        1. After you recognize that you have to change it with God’s help.
        1. That means you have to realize there’s nothing you can do about the Earthly Living part, but you need to train yourself to live with Heavenly Vision.
        1. This world is our pilgrimage, it isn’t our home.  Suffering is meant to loosen our grip on this world and long for the one to come.  To long for it in such a way that our faith is strengthened in the here and now. And to long for it in such a way that we become God’s agents of heaven even while we’re living on this earth. Amen.

SB #1  Behold the Lamb

The Lord’s Supper

The Apostles’ Creed

SB#48  How Deep the Father’s Love for Us

Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.