CrossPoints – Part Nine
“The Deceptive Disciple”
John 18:1-7 • Page 766 • Dr. Larry L. Thompson (2002)
“When he had finished praying, Jesus left with his disciples and crossed the Kidron Valley. On the other side there was an olive grove, and he and his disciples went into it.  Now Judas, who betrayed him, knew the place, because Jesus had often met there with his disciples.  So Judas came to the grove, guiding a detachment of soldiers and some officials from the chief priests and Pharisees. They were carrying torches, lanterns and weapons.  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. (And Judas the traitor was standing there with them.)  When Jesus said, "I am he," they drew back and fell to the ground.  Again he asked them, "Who is it you want? "And they said, "Jesus of Nazareth.”
“Now Judas, who betrayed Him, knew the place, because Jesus had often met there with his disciples.” (18:2)
If there were but one message that I could share through the CROSSPOINT sermon series it would perhaps be this message. This is the message for those who act as if they are devoted disciples but in reality know in their heart, just as Judas knew; they are nothing but a deceptive disciple, a defective follower of Jesus Christ.
Today we focus our attention on what I call the “The Deceptive Discple!”
At the Last Supper we see Jesus telling the disciples that one of them would betray Him. The disciples immediately question themselves, “Is it I?” Finally Christ speaks and says the one I dip with in this bowl is the betrayer. Then Christ privately tells Judas, “Go and do what you must do.”
The Focus today is on the Pain…the pain of a man who betrayed Christ and the pain of Christ to know that one who claims to be a follower is nothing but a deceptive disciple and finally the pain that we may see in our own lives as we realize that we may be closer to a “Deceptive Disciple” than we are a “Devoted Disciple.”
So what went wrong with Judas? How did Judas move from being called as one of the 12 disciples who would devotedly give their life for the Gospel of Jesus…to a cowardly deceptive disciple that took his own life having understood he couldn’t live with the thought that he had betrayed “The Innocent Blood?” In order to understand how to identify a Deceptive Disciple we will turn our attention to Judas Iscariot, the betrayer.
Judas was a handpicked disciple of Jesus Christ: a Proclaimer of the truth, a healer of the sick, a traveling companion of Jesus. He was so respected and trusted among the disciples that he was made treasurer of the Twelve. He wasn’t elected to the position - Jesus personally chose Judas for the job.
The Augustine tradition says this about Judas: “Jesus had delivered Judas often from death, and for his sake healed his father of palsy and cured his mother of leprosy, and next to Peter, Jesus honored Judas above all the other apostles.”
Yet ‘The Devoted Disciple’ is revealed to be nothing more than ‘The Deceptive Disciple’ – with the tragic revelation of the, “a kiss of death!” Judas led the wild mob of Roman guards and Jewish officers to the garden, where he identified Christ with a kiss. After the kiss, Jesus looked into Judas’ eyes and said in Luke 22:48: “…Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?” Jesus was saying, "Is this really how you would betray me, Judas - with a kiss, a sign of love and affection?" This is nothing more than the ultimate act of hypocrisy.
Judas’ betrayal of Jesus was so heinous, so diabolical, that one early church father said: “It would have been good if there had been only one Judas.”
But the truth is the world is full of Judas followers, The Deceptive Disciples! The church still witnesses the betrayal of Jesus Christ every day. The spirit of Judas is very much alive in the hearts of many former followers of Christ - and within the walls of the church as well! I have a frightening proposal to ask you: Could you be a Deceptive Disciple, a traitor to Christ and not know it? Have you sold out Jesus and betrayed Him? Traitors are those who once were loyal to the one they betray. Only those within the camp can be traitors. ONLY THOSE WHO FAIL TO RECEIVE TRUTH WILL BE TRAITORS.
There are two facts I want to share with you about Judas. They may surprise you - but please do not take them lightly. I believe they were given to me by the Holy Spirit as a warning for every one of us who hears this TRUTH of GOD’S word proclaimed today.
I. Fact Number One: The Religious Leaders Did Not Need Judas
Jesus could easily have been captured without Judas’ help. He had taught in the synagogues, streets and marketplaces. His face was one of the most recognizable in all Israel and Judah. Scripture instructs us the people followed Him even to the quiet places where He withdrew to pray!
Notice what Jesus said to the arresting mob, "…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.” (Matt. 26:55) In other words: "I am well known to you - My face is familiar. Why this sudden attack as though I were a complete stranger to you?"
Clearly the kiss of Judas was not needed to identify Christ - because Christ’s enemies knew Him well already! His face was burned on their consciences.
Indeed - it is clear the perpetrators of this crime did not need Judas. The fact is they despised him. They treated him lightly, using him and then quickly pushing him aside. When he sensed such great remorse suddenly of his traitorous deed, and ran into their presence flinging the money to the ground and crying, “I have betrayed the innocent blood” (Matthew 27:4), the Jewish leaders merely laughed at him.
Examine Matt. 27:4 and look at the response of the religious leaders to the confession of Judas: “I have sinned," he said, "for I have betrayed innocent blood." "What is that to us?" they replied. "That’s your responsibility.” In other words, “That’s your problem - take care of it yourself. We have no need of you or your tears!”
Judas wasn’t needed for the arrest of Christ, for Jesus’ trial or crucifixion. In fact, he wasn’t around for either one. By the time Christ went to the Cross, Judas was already dead, having committed suicide within twenty-four hours of his betrayal.
II. Fact Number Two: Satan Did Need Judas!
Satan was behind the scenes, directing every treacherous move of this Deceptive Disciple. His strategy was to find a betrayer - someone close to Christ, someone He trusted, one who supposedly was under His care. Yet he had to have one whose heart was compromised – someone who attempted to participate in both camps - someone he could entice and weaken, planting questions and doubts in his mind. Then, at the appropriate time, he could possess him and turn him into the Betrayer and the world would know the deceptiveness of this disciple!
Remember, Satan desired to use Judas much more than to have his demon-directed mob go into the garden and take hold of Jesus. He wanted the whole affair to make a statement - to be a Demonic witness for all generations! He wanted this evil testimony to ring loudly in every realm of creation. And here is the statement Satan speaks today in a demonic desire that everyone will hear:
“Jesus Christ cannot keep you - He can’t even keep His own! He is not a true Savior or the Keeper of men’s souls. He failed to keep Judas - and He failed to keep me (Satan), I was one of His angels, and all the others who fell with me. I’m going to prove that Jesus has no power to keep anyone from failing. He will give you up to your enemy!"
Judas was to be the devil’s POSTER BOY on how Jesus Christ was powerless to save the lost and the keep the saved - because Satan desired that all would know He did not even save His very own devoted disciple!
Here is the trap that Satan set that night in the garden. He would take Judas, the deceptive disciple and he wanted it to appear as if he had stolen this disciple right out of the Master’s hands. Finally, when the time would come to push Judas to very brink of devastation, to the place in his spiritual and emotional life where he honestly felt the only option left to him was to take his own life…THEN, Satan would scream out the testimony of this deceptive disciple to all of hell, all of heaven and all over the world: "Do you see what has become of this man? Look at him; he was a disciple of Jesus Christ. But Jesus couldn’t keep him! Jesus lied and I have taken Judas from the hand of Christ. He is NOT THE MESSIAH!”
What you MUST UNDERSTAND THIS DAY IS THIS FACT: Satan had to have a Judas! He wanted to use him to proclaim His Hellish lies in three worlds:
1. Satan first wanted to make a statement to all the principalities and powers of darkness. If the devil could destroy a close disciple of Jesus - one who himself had preached, had cast out devils, had healed the sick, performed miracles and walked in the fullest light of truth - then he could say to every fallen angel and demonic power: “See? The LOVE of Holy God is flawed. His compassions do fail! It was prophesied long ago that Judas would come, and yet God did nothing to protect or save him. "God could have stopped me from my pride, He could have delivered me too - He could have kept all of us from the fall. But now you can clearly see that God once again has failed to keep His own!"
2. Satan also wanted to make a statement to all the holy angels. He is the FATHER OF LIES and so he is always seeking to throw darts of doubt even into heaven to corrupt the angels of Glory, those who continue even today in giving the uncorrupted witnesses to the glory of God.
Don’t think for a moment the devil has given up his struggle to bring down the heavens and exalt himself as God. He is the Accuser of not just the brethren, but of all that God has created- including the angels!
We know the battle still rages, that Satan still fights the heavenly hosts. He fought the archangel Michael, who sought to bring the Word of God to Daniel. And surely today he uses every lie and diabolic deceptive strategy to try to plant doubt and rebellion in the lives of those who love and serve Jehovah!
3. Most of all, Satan’s statement was meant for mankind - for you and me! The message he sent was meant primarily for God’s people on earth. He wants to use it to destroy all faith! His desire is to turn you from a spiritual walk leading to the Devoted Disciple of Christ to using you as his next testimony of how powerless God is in his ability to care for you.
The betrayal by Judas was meant to shake and undermine the faith of God’s children in the realm of His saving, keeping power which is available to each of us through Christ.
Imagine what the high priests and the Sanhedrin must have thought as they bargained with Judas, the pitiful man before them. They saw this once bold devoted disciple now betraying Christ and falling into ruin. They must have said among themselves, “We’re right! Jesus is not the Promised Messiah, He is NOT the CHRIST, He is NOT God, or the Son of God. If He were, He would have surely kept this disciple from falling.”
You can see them opening their scrolls, quoting: "It is written by the Psalmist, "Behold, he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord is thy keeper.... The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord shall preserve thee from all evil" (Psalm 121:4-7). If Jesus were God, He would have fulfilled this Scripture!
"Also, it is written: "Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler... There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling" (Psalm 91:3, 10). Jesus cannot be God, because He allowed Judas to be snared. Evil befell this man - and he was a close disciple!" You can hear Satan shouting to their inner man: "If Jesus is God, why isn’t He keeping this man? Why isn’t Judas being delivered?"
This past week a young daughter asked me a question related to her mother who is suffering from a terminal illness, “Pastor Larry, my mother has served the Lord for so long. Why does God allow this to happen to us? Why don’t His promises work? Where is He right now and why can’t He stop this disease?"
Remember This: In These Troubled Times, When All Is Being Shaken, Satan Will Try to Place Great Fear Upon You and Attempt to Convince You that Your Devotion to God Does Not Matter for He Lacks the Power to Deliver You!
As we move closer to the end times more and more you are going to hear about God’s people going through trials and suffering all kinds of evil. And Satan will use every example to try to convince you that God does not care or He will not be there when you need Him - He lacks the ability to keep you from the wicked one! The very design is to turn you from a trusting Devoted Disciple to a tragically Defeated and Deceived Disciple.
We have the WORD OF GOD and great examples of faith under trial: According to church tradition, the apostle Paul was beheaded. Hebrews 11 lists the heroes of the faith who were burned at the stake, skinned alive, boiled in oil - all because they wouldn’t recant their testimony of the Lord Jesus Christ. In our own church we had the faithful testimony of Paul May; a great lay leader of this fellowship and a brother for which we earnestly prayed that God would heal him and deliver him of his cancer. Paul remained faithful and trusting in Christ to the end of this life until he was ushered into His presence to continue his eternal life with the Lord.
Yet this message is not meant to deal with why God’s people suffer - why some are permitted to endure so much when His promises are so mighty. I don’t know nor do I have all the answers to that question. But I do know that the Apostle Paul said this: “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” (Romans 8:18).
I know also that God uses suffering to prepare us and to mature us in Him. We are going to go through economic suffering, sickness and other trials. I don’t have all the answers for this question. However, apart from the TRUTH of God’s word and the power of His Spirit, we will fail in those difficult days.
If you aren’t being prepared by the Word of God and matured through trials, then you will listen to the devil when he whispers to you, "God lacks the ability to keep His people" - You’ll run to some prosperity church to have your ears tickled. Then, when the first problem arises, you’ll end up throwing away all your faith - because it hasn’t answered your deepest, questions, problems and needs!
So what was behind Judas’ fall? How did this apparently devoted disciple become a deceptive and defeated disciple? This is important for each one of us to know - because it gives us warning signs for our own lives, lest we stumble and fall too:
1. Money Became His Messiah
"And Judas went to the chief priests and the officers of the temple guard and discussed with them how he might betray Jesus.  They were delighted and agreed to give him money.” (Luke 22:4-5)
The word "discussed" sullaleo, (sool-ahl-eh’-o); from Greek: means to talk or bargain together, to converse. Judas "bargained" for his price to betray Christ. As Judas sat before these evil priests, he wouldn’t settle for just fifteen or twenty pieces of silver, he had to have thirty or nothing. That was his bottom price to betray the Savior!
Biblical theologians make all kinds of excuses for Judas’ betrayal. Many will say in their commentary that money was not his motive – insisting that he only wanted to force Jesus to set up an earthly kingdom.
But the truth is; money was the motive! Why else would he bargain, arguing a price? He could have simply said, "Look, I only want Jesus forced into this position to make Him display His power" - and he would have taken any amount of silver. But the love of money had crowded out of Judas’ heart all the love he had for Jesus!
Indeed, the love of money is the root of all such evil. “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” (I Timothy 6:10). It is the seed the devil plants in an individual’s heart that drives out all love for Christ. Suddenly the need to accumulate money becomes the obsession of the disciple’s life. Then comes the need to count it and make sure it isn’t lost. Afterward comes the need to build on it and gain more and more.
You may have set some goal for yourself - of retiring, or of being financially secure. I’m sure Judas had a financial goal too. But his type of heart is never satisfied - because the goal is always being lifted higher!
The devil is a liar and he tells us, "If you want to serve the Lord, wait till you get a certain amount in the bank. Then you’ll be free to serve Him!" But after you get that much, Satan whispers: "That’s really not enough, because interest rates are going down and this is a terrible economy. You really need this much more...." And the figure keeps escalating and your focus is driven further and further from the object of your once passionate love for Christ!
Yet the TRUTH of GOD’S WORD TEACHES US: “People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction.  For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.  But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness.” (I Timothy 6:9-11).
If your life is absorbed and the focus of all you do is on increasing the bottom line- your pursuit of money - then you have the very same stronghold in you that Judas had in him! The simple sin of greed that turned Judas into a thief, a traitor and a murderer of Jesus Christ. And that proves Paul’s argument that the love of money is the root and germ of all kinds of evil!
As you hear God’s word today, ask yourself, “Have I sold out Christ in this way? Have you become a deceptive disciple, bargaining your soul for your simple love for more money?” There is nothing wrong with making money and nothing wrong with having a savings account. But if you love the money and possessions more than Christ then you have neglected Jesus and you have made Money your Messiah! You too have sold out Christ, just as surely as Judas did!
2. Spiritual Blindness Became His Bondage!
Satan had dropped a veil over Judas’ eyes, so he could not see how he had been changing from a devoted disciple to a defeated and deceptive disciple. Judas the disciple became blind to the evil and ruin that controlled his heart.
It is a frightening thought to consider that Judas was familiar with scripture, the very prophecies about the one who would betray the Redeemer. I wonder how many times he read this scripture or heard these words: “Even my close friend, whom I trusted, he who shared my bread, has lifted up his heel against me.” (Psalm 41:9)
Never once do we get the feeling that Judas thought of himself as filling that awful role of the betrayer! “Me, the object of this prophecy? I’m not a betrayer of Christ - I am a simple disciple. I am not evil!”
Yet Jesus very clearly pointed a finger at the deceived disciple and said in John 13:18, 21: “I am not referring to all of you; I know those I have chosen. But this is to fulfill the scripture: ’He who shares my bread has lifted up his heel against me.” [13:21] “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.” Was Judas so blind he could not see he was the man? Was Judas so deaf he could no longer hear the word of God speak to his heart?
Today, we also face this same danger of spiritual blindness to truth that leads to bondage in our life. We too read biblical prophecies that speak of the day in which we live. For example, Jesus said that in the last days: “Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold.” (Matt. 24:12)
That prophecy was spoken 2,000 years ago. Yet I ask you: Is your heart cold toward the Word of the Lord today? Jesus said sin would abound everywhere - and the love of many believers would grow cold! Are you the man or woman whom this prophecy is putting its finger on right now? Do you actually read the WORD and never allow the Spirit of God to deal with your heart concerning the sin that God is exposing? Do you hear the Word of God spoken in the same manner in which Judas heard God’s word and yet ignore what you hear? Do you feel that simply by association with those who go with Christ that you are immune from spiritual bondage that can mean death to your spiritual life?
Let me share with you the most dreadful and shameful thought related to this text today. Consider what can happen to those disciples who once knew and loved Jesus: Yet that have grown cold and have listened to the word without acting on the word and reading the word without receiving the word. Tragically, without knowing it, they have become the deceived and defeated disciple. They are the devil’s “Judas testimony for this generation!” If your love is growing cold, the devil will use you as his example - the same way he used Judas! The devoted disciple became the deceptive disciple.
Nothing could be worse for you than to stand before the Lord and answer for all your family, all your friends and all your acquaintances, who knew you as a devoted disciple of Christ and now you have become Satan’s poster child for the deceptive disciple because you turned away from Him. You may say, “Don’t put that burden on me - I’m not perfect. I am going to make mistakes and I am only responsible for my own actions. I don’t have to answer for anybody else!”
Not so friend and to live in that spiritual darkness only gives credibility that you are a deceived disciple! How many in our church once knew you as a lover of Jesus? How many in your business once knew how your heart burned for the love of Christ and your desire to see others come to know Him? You testified to them, you told them what Jesus did for you. You said you loved Him more than life. You said that He was Your Savior, Your Lord, Your Messiah. They knew you weren’t perfect but they also knew of your walk with Christ. They considered you a devoted disciple.
But you turned your back on Him. And you’ve changed, you have failed to receive the TRUTH, the only power that can deliver You - yet, tragically, you don’t even know you’ve changed! WHY? Because the devil has blinded you! Day by day, week by week, year by year, you’ve become so hardened to God’s word and God’s Spirit speaking Truth to your heart.
Now all who once knew you as a lover of Jesus see a different person. And a crowd of witnesses will arise on Judgment Day and condemn you to the Judge: “You can’t judge me, God, because I was looking at his/her life! Ten years ago he/she was on fire and he/she loved You with all his/her heart. I was deep in sin - and yet I had my eye on him/her. I saw how close he/she was to You!”
“Then they failed - and I thought, “What chance do I have?” Let my blood be upon him, Lord! What little hope I had of turning to You was taken from me by his failure to follow you. I mean after all, if he couldn’t be a devoted disciple to you then what chance did I ever have?” This is exactly how you become the Judas testimony!
Jesus is the TRUTH and Has the Last Word About His Ability to Keep Secure All Devoted Disciples!
In His final prayer with His disciples, Jesus made His own statement - to heaven, to hell and to all mankind:
“While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by that name you gave me. None has been lost except the one doomed to destruction so that Scripture would be fulfilled.” (John 17:12).
Do you hear the truth of what Christ is saying? “Only one was lost - and I didn’t really lose him, because he was of the devil from the beginning. I have kept everyone who has received the TRUTH, who has ever given Me his heart! I believe Judas could have been saved - because Jesus did everything He could for him. It wasn’t God who hardened Judas’ heart. He merely foresaw that Judas would harden himself to Christ, time after time. REMEMBER, Judas had a divided heart – He thought he could be a devoted disciple and also maintain his devotion to his money and his earthly goals - and he made the choice not to repent! Granted he was remorseful, he was sorry, but remorse is not repentance. Tragically, that is how he ended up as a testimony for Satan. The testimony of the deceptive disciple.
Hear these words well, fellow Christian, devoted follower of Christ: “While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by that name you gave me. None has been lost except the one doomed to destruction so that Scripture would be fulfilled.” (John 17:12)
The example of Peter should encourage us. Jesus told him, “Peter, Satan is after you. He has desired to sift you, destroy you and turn you also into a traitor. But I’m praying for you, that your faith will not fail!”
Peter didn’t fail in his faith – because Peter received the TRUTH of Christ and Jesus kept him! Though he failed in an hour of temptation, he still had a heart that loved Christ and trusted the WORD OF CHRIST - and Peter came back to Jesus, repented and gave Him his heart and fully devoted himself as a disciple of Christ. Jesus saw that hungry heart and said, “I’m going to keep you from the power of the devil!”
Friend, if your desire to truly be a disciple of Christ, devoted and following Him with your whole heart then God is going to keep you for "greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world" (1 John 4:4). You can turn to Psalm 91 and believe every verse about His protection over you. You may go through a season of suffering, you may pass through a valley of sin, but if you repent, if you live in obedience to His Truth by the power of His Spirit then nobody can touch your peace with God!
We can’t know what tomorrow holds - but I pray that as believers we can each say with Job, “Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him; I will surely defend my ways to his face.” (Job 13:15).
And I know for sure if the Lord does let His wall of protection down, it is because He has a reason that will result in my good and my growth. We may never understand it all. But we can know this with confidence: “He will not let your foot slip--he who watches over you will not slumber.” (Psalm 121:3).
It is true and it is sure: “He is able to keep you from falling, and present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy" (Jude 24). He has done everything He can possibly do to make it possible for you to be a devoted disciple…you must now decide if you choose devotion or deception. You will have a testimony in either choice you make.