Thursday, March 29, 2012

Judas - Heaven or Hell?

Matthew 26

The Plot Against Jesus

 1 When Jesus had finished saying all these things, He said to his disciples, 2 “As you know, the Passover is two days away—and the Son of Man will be handed over to be crucified.”

Jesus knew that He was going to die, didn’t He? He knew He was going to be crucified, that He was going to have to go through the awful pain of that death. And He willingly went through with it because of His love for us, because of His deep over-riding desire to forgive us and to provide a way for us to come back to God. Jesus would rather come to earth and die than continue to live in Heaven without us. That’s amazing, isn’t it?

 3 Then the chief priests and the elders of the people assembled in the palace of the high priest, whose name was Caiaphas, 4 and they schemed to arrest Jesus secretly and kill Him. 5 “But not during the festival,” they said, “or there may be a riot among the people.”

Jesus Anointed at Bethany

John 12:1-6 – “Six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus lived, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. 2 Here a dinner was given in Jesus’ honor. Martha served, while Lazarus was among those reclining at the table with him. 3 Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. 4But one of His disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray him, objected, 5 “Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages.” 6 He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it.”

So Judas wanted to sell that expensive perfume and then keep the money for himself. He was a thief, a greedy man, who was only looking out for himself. Here this woman is, worshipping Jesus, at least in part because Jesus had raised her brother, Lazarus, from the dead, and Judas…is not worshipping. He’s not remembering the awe of Jesus calling Lazarus, a man who had been dead and in the tomb for four days, back to life. Instead, he’s thinking about how he can make a quick buck.

10 Aware of this, Jesus said to them, “Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a beautiful thing to me. 11 The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me. 12 When she poured this perfume on my body, she did it to prepare me for burial.

Judas is thinking about money and Jesus and this woman, Mary, are thinking about how Jesus is about to die for the sins of the world. Talk about Judas not having his priorities straight. Judas is right in the middle of the biggest thing God has ever done since the creation of the world – God, in the body of Jesus Christ, is about to die – and Judas is being distracted, thinking about how he can make some money.

But I wonder how many of us can get distracted too. I wonder how many of us concern ourselves with our daily living or want we want to do, and don’t notice or don’t pay attention or don’t give enough priority to the things of God.

We live in this world, we have to take care of things in this world, but we are not of this world. Our priority, our loyalty, our future and eternal home is beyond this world. As believers, we need to be about bigger things than the daily grind while we’re here, because we know that getting that next paycheck, or taking care of that next thing on our to-do list, is not all there is to life. Life is about something so much bigger, something so much more beyond, something so much more eternal than, our daily routine.

Judas, apparently, didn’t realize that. Hopefully, we do. I often wonder how Judas could have been right there with Jesus for three straight years and not have been affected, not have been changed, by being with Christ. There are some Christians who go to church every week and who claim to have known Jesus for years, and yet it’s obvious that they have not been changed. It’s obvious that, like Judas, they haven’t let Jesus affect them.

I say that we will not be like that. We will not be like Judas. We will take our faith seriously. We will allow our faith in Christ to change us, to shape us, to grow us, into what God wants us to be. We will have a faith that looks beyond ourselves and our daily ups and downs to a God who is in control of everything, and who has called us to higher things, to the God who wants us to be involved in His activity in this world.

Judas had the opportunity to take part in God’s work, right there by God’s side, and he wasted it. We will not waste the opportunities that God gives us. We will not waste our lives like Judas did. Amen? We will make our lives count for God and for His eternal purposes.

13 Truly I tell you, wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.”

14 Then one of the Twelve—the one called Judas Iscariot—went to the chief priests 15 and asked, “What are you willing to give me if I deliver him over to you?” So they counted out for him thirty pieces of silver. 16 From then on Judas watched for an opportunity to hand him over.

Is it any surprise that Judas, this thief, this greedy man, was willing to betray Christ for a few coins?

I wonder what we are willing to betray Christ for. We betray Christ every time we sin. Every time we accept Satan’s temptation instead of standing strong, instead of staying loyal to our Savior.

Satan has all kinds of things he can tempt us with and he knows each of our weaknesses. Judas’ weakness was money. What is your weakness, and what are you doing to make sure that you stay strong in that area so that you don’t end up sinning and betraying Jesus like Judas did?

The thing is that Judas went looking for trouble, didn’t he? He went to the priests and he said, “What are you willing to give me?” Sometimes, we go looking for trouble too. We know what our weakness is and yet we still go to the places, we still talk to the people, we still buy the products, that encourage us to sin in that area.

If Judas had recognized his weakness, and decided to stay away from the priests, he would never have betrayed Jesus like he did. In the same way, the first step in our fight to keep ourselves from sinning and betraying Jesus, is to consciously avoid those things, those places, those people, that tempt us.

20 When evening came, Jesus was reclining at the table with the Twelve. 21 And while they were eating, he said, “Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me.”

 22 They were very sad and began to say to him one after the other, “Surely you don’t mean me, Lord?”

 23 Jesus replied, “The one who has dipped his hand into the bowl with me will betray me. 24 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.”

 25 Then Judas, the one who would betray him, said, “Surely you don’t mean me, Rabbi?”

  Jesus answered, “You have said so.”

 26 While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.”

 27 Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. 28 This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. 29 I tell you, I will not drink from this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.”

 30 When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.


 36 Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” 37 He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. 38 Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”

 39 Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”

 40 Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Couldn’t you men keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter. 41 “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

 42 He went away a second time and prayed, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.”

 43 When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. 44 So he left them and went away once more and prayed the third time, saying the same thing.

 45 Then he returned to the disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Look, the hour has come, and the Son of Man is delivered into the hands of sinners. 46 Rise! Let us go! Here comes my betrayer!”

Jesus Arrested

 47 While he 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. 48 Now the betrayer had arranged a signal with them: “The one I kiss is the man; arrest him.” 49 Going at once to Jesus, Judas said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” and kissed him.

Luke 22:48 – “but Jesus asked him, ‘Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?’”

“Are you betraying the Son of man with a kiss?” Can you imagine? Judas goes up to Jesus, calls Him ‘Rabbi’, a respectful term for ‘Teacher’, and then kisses Him affectionately, knowing the whole time that he’s come to betray Him.

I wonder if we ever betray Jesus like that. Sometimes, Christians will come to church and they will say that they believe in Christ and that they serve God, but then they betray Him by their sinful actions afterward. They respect Christ with their mouth one moment and sin against Him the next. That’s the Judas kiss.

Friends, I say that we will not give Jesus the Judas kiss. I say that when we say that we love and serve Christ, we will mean it. I say that our actions and our lifestyle will match what our mouth says. We will be sincere, genuine Christians. We will not be hypocrites, but will serve the Lord in truth.

  50 Jesus replied, “Do what you came for, friend.”

  Then the men stepped forward, seized Jesus and arrested him. 51 With that, one of Jesus’ companions reached for his sword, drew it out and struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his ear.

  52 “Put your sword back in its place,” Jesus said to him, “for all who draw the sword will die by the sword. 53 Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels? 54 But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way?”

 55 In that hour Jesus said to the crowd, “Am I leading a rebellion, that you have come out with swords and clubs to capture me? Every day I sat in the temple courts teaching, and you did not arrest me. 56 But this has all taken place that the writings of the prophets might be fulfilled.” Then all the disciples deserted him and fled.

Jesus Before the Sanhedrin

 57 Those who had arrested Jesus took him to Caiaphas the high priest, where the teachers of the law and the elders had assembled. 58 But Peter followed him at a distance, right up to the courtyard of the high priest. He entered and sat down with the guards to see the outcome.

 59 The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were looking for false evidence against Jesus so that they could put him to death. 60 But they did not find any, though many false witnesses came forward.

  Finally two came forward 61 and declared, “This fellow said, ‘I am able to destroy the temple of God and rebuild it in three days.’”

 62 Then the high priest stood up and said to Jesus, “Are you not going to answer? What is this testimony that these men are bringing against you?” 63 But Jesus remained silent.

  The high priest said to him, “I charge you under oath by the living God: Tell us if you are the Messiah, the Son of God.”

  64 “You have said so,” Jesus replied. “But I say to all of you: From now on you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.”[e]

 65 Then the high priest tore his clothes and said, “He has spoken blasphemy! Why do we need any more witnesses? Look, now you have heard the blasphemy. 66 What do you think?”

  “He is worthy of death,” they answered.

 67 Then they spit in his face and struck him with their fists. Others slapped him 68 and said, “Prophesy to us, Messiah. Who hit you?”

Matthew 27

Judas Hangs Himself

 1 Early in the morning, all the chief priests and the elders of the people made their plans how to have Jesus executed. 2 So they bound him, led him away and handed him over to Pilate the governor.

 3 When Judas, who had betrayed him, saw that Jesus was condemned, he was seized with remorse and returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders. 4 “I have sinned,” he said, “for I have betrayed innocent blood.”

  “What is that to us?” they replied. “That’s your responsibility.”

 5 So Judas threw the money into the temple and left. Then he went away and hanged himself.

We’ve talked a lot this morning about how bad of a guy Judas was. He was greedy, he was a hypocrite, he betrayed Jesus, and now we see him committing suicide. But I wonder, where did Judas go when he died? Is Judas in Heaven? I think most Christians would assume that Judas went to Hell.

But I’m not too sure about that. I think that Judas gets a bad rap among Christians. I really do. Judas is someone who did something wrong, yes? Do me a favor and raise your hand if you've ever done anything wrong.

Okay, so Judas does something wrong, but then, when he realizes the consequences of his mistake, when he realizes the consequences of his wrong-doing, he feels bad about it, doesn't he? He goes to the priests and he says that he has sinned, and he returns the money. Raise your hand if you've ever done something wrong and then felt bad about it afterwards.

So Judas feels bad about what he's done. Judas had some serious remorse for his sin. He felt terrible. He was guilty and he knew it.

Let me ask you: Is that enough for God to have forgiven Judas? He felt bad about it, he confessed his sin to the priests, and he gave back the money. I’m not sure there was anything more Judas could have done in order to ask for God’s forgiveness.

I think that if I had been Judas’ pastor, I would have told him that God forgave him.

But I don’t think Judas would have believed me.

Because here's where Judas made his real mistake. Here's where Judas made his fatal mistake. It's tragic. Judas is the most tragic person in the entire Hebrew and Christian Scriptures. Because in Judas, we see the perfect picture of someone who was, most likely, forgiven by God, but couldn’t forgive himself. Judas made a mistake, he had sinned, and he felt bad about it, but he didn't know, or he wasn't willing, to take the next step.

God forgave Judas, but Judas couldn’t forgive himself. He couldn’t let go of his own guilt, those all-too recent memories of what he had done. Instead of acknowledging God’s forgiveness, Judas went out and he killed himself. He chose to hang on to his guilt and take it to his grave instead of allowing himself to feel and experience the forgiveness that God had given him.

We can be like that too. We’ve come to God, we know we’ve been forgiven, but we still have those memories of the things we’ve done. We still feel that guilt. God says our guilt is gone – it’s forgiven – but we still carry it with us. We know that God has forgiven us, but we haven’t forgiven ourselves.

Don’t make the same mistake that Judas did. If you feel guilty about something this morning, if you’re still haunted by the memories of things you’ve done in the past, don’t take that guilt out of here when you leave. We’re going to pray and as we do, I want to you to take a moment to let go of any guilt you may still be feeling and let yourself experience the forgiveness that God has already given you, experience the forgiveness that Christ died to give you. God doesn’t want you carrying around that guilt anymore.

When you continue to carry that guilt, that’s letting Satan keep you down. That’s letting Satan remind you of your past mistakes, your past failings, your past sins, instead of letting God remind you of His love, His forgiveness, all the ways He’s changed you, and the future plans He has for you.

I say that we will not let Satan keep us down anymore. Amen? Amen. Let us pray.

Discussion Questions:

Q1. Is there any sin that God can’t forgive?

Q2. Do you have to confess and ask for forgiveness for each individual sin that you commit?

Q3. When you believe in Jesus and ask God to forgive you for your sins, what sins is He forgiving you of?

Q4. Do people who commit suicide automatically go to Hell?

Q5. What is the one way to get to Hell?

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