Message: My Beloved Friend, Judas – Pastor Lucas Johnson
Sunday, April 28th, 2019
At one time or another in your journey of faith, you may have been tempted to walk away. Perhaps someone had let you down, and it seemed like God had turned His back. Maybe He allowed financial hardships or health challenges, and it felt like He wasn’t listening, or if He was even real.
There’s arguably no better illustration of someone who turned their back on their faith than Judas Iscariot. His story is one of significant and lasting loss, someone as close to Jesus as anyone could ever get, yet turned his back and walked away. To this day, his name carries the weight of his betrayal. I’ve lost track of the number of Johns, Matthews, Peters, and James I’ve met in my lifetime, but I’ve never once met a Judas. Well, let me rephrase. I’ve met many Judas’; they just went by a different name.
Comprehending the extent of his betrayal is difficult. No one loved Judas more than Jesus, yet he chose – yes chose – to betray him for 30 pieces of silver. No one forced Judas – he wasn’t coerced, tricked, blackmailed, or shamed – it was his choice. Later, when he confesses to the Pharisees, they are as coldhearted as he was, saying, “What is that to us?” (Matthew 27:4). Jesus’ love and mercy were so great that up until the last moment He offered Judas a way out. “Judas, would you betray the Son of Man with a kiss?” (Luke 22:48).
To walk away is folly. Any pleasure or satisfaction you find is temporary and will not last. Just as the Pharisees thought they’d won when Jesus died at Calvary, in the last days, despite the vast armies that will rise under the antichrist, God holds the victory. Fast forward to the final battle – our God holds the keys to sin and death – the battle is already won.
Think about what Judas missed. When Jesus appeared to the disciples after the resurrection, Judas was not there. His shame and grief were so great he took his own life. Later, when Jesus ascended into heaven, with hands raised to bless his people, again, Judas was not there. And most tragically of all, when Jesus stands before God the Father and says, “Here I am and the children you have given me” (Hebrews 2:13), Judas will not be there.
There has never been a greater betrayal. Peter, though he denied Christ no less than three times that last night, recognized his sin and repented, and went on to be a powerful minister of the gospel. Judas separated himself from the other disciples and turned his back on Jesus.
Then as now, Jesus offers a way out. He offered forgiveness and reconciliation to Judas then and provides the same to us today. Like Judas, the choice is yours.
Discuss the statement “For every entry into temptation and sin – God provides an exodus into victory.”
Why is the term “exodus” particularly apt in this context?
Guilt vs. Conviction – what’s the difference?
Have you encountered a Judas? Have you offered them the same grace God has given you?