Summary: Some stories start out good in life and get better, some start out bad and get worse.
Tonight I want to share an unusual message with you, a message that is pointed out of Matthew Chapter 27. Lets read from verse 3-5 (READ). The message is titled, a tragic beginning, and a tragic ending. Some stories start out bad and end good, some start out good and end good, and some start out bad and keep getting worse, ending in tragedy. Lets pray.
There was a strange man who had come into the area, one who was dressed kind of strangely. He was wearing camel’s hair. He also had an usual diet, his was a diet of locust and honey. And he had come to the banks of the Jordan River in the wilderness preaching about something the people were anticipating. But they did not realize that he had already come. This strange man I am sure you all know, was John the Baptist, and he came crying, "There comes one after me whose shoes I am not worthy to bear" He said, "He must increase, but I must decrease." This is something we each ought to remember.
The lonely man of Galilee wandered to the shores of the Jordan river. John the Baptist looked and pointed to this man, Jesus, the Son of God, and shouted, "Behold, the Lamb of God that taketh away the sins of the world." Multitudes came to hear this unusual preacher, this evangelists who preached with a fervor no other evangelist had ever preached with. This strange man who had a certain charisma and magnetism, although he was crude in his approach. Then he gave the invitation, he asked people if they wanted to come to Jesus, the Lamb of God, that they would come down into the water of repentance, and one came, then another, and then another.
In that crowd that day it is speculated by some historians, was Judas Iscariot. And he probably saw his friends walking down into the water, down the aisle, and he said to himself, "I think I had better walk down, also." But no doubt, he was not willing to admit that he was a sinner. No doubt it was hard for him to admit he was lost. Perhaps he was much like Cain in the Old Testament who wanted to make his own way. You see, God’s way was to come with a blood sacrifice, but Cain was looking for an easier, more acceptable way, for he was a farmer who lived off the grain if the field, and he tried to offer up that as a sacrifice.
No doubt Judas came down, made a profession of his faith to Jesus Christ, maybe he was saved that day. Some people say Judas never was saved, yet there are others who say Jesus would never have chosen him if he had not been saved. I don’t know when, or how, or if...No one really knows the nature of Judas heart, but without a doubt he came because others came. Maybe it was peer pressure that caused him to follow John the Baptist and Jesus. Maybe it was the thing to do, the popular thing that caused him to go along. Judas was a man of reputation. He had a good business reputation, he was respectable and for him to say, "I am not saved," was not good for his reputation.
Can you imagine how he felt when the hands of John the Baptist went around his waist and under his arms lowering him into the Jordan River? "Could it be?" he thought. "This is mockery, I am not really sure that I am right with God." Perhaps he said, "I know what I’ll do, I will just admit, I will just confess that my heart is not right with God. But I can’t do that, I am respectable. People will laugh at me, they would make fun of me if I were to admit that I was a sinner."
Church, listen to me tonight. I am not trying to scare anyone who is genuinely saved, but I would like to cause some unrest in the hearts of those tonight who are not known by others as a sinner, but you know you are lost in your heart and you are going to hell and you have never been born by the Spirit of the Living God. Jesus said, You must be born again. Judas Iscariot did not admit in the rivers of the Jordan when baptized by the same hand that lowered our Savior in the water, he was too proud to admit that his heart was not right with God.
Time passed, and one day Jesus calls some men upon the mountain in Matthew chapter 10. He chooses 12 men that would be His apostles, the men that he would train to carry on the gospel around the world after he had gone back to heaven. He began to call their names, "Peter, Andrew, James, Philip, Bartholomew," and then to the shock of Judas Iscariot, his name was called, "Judas." He was chosen to be one of the twelve disciples that would walk and live with Jesus, to see blind eyes open and deaf ears unstopped, and to see the lame walk again, and demons cast out. He would see Jesus bless the little children and calm the story seas. He was chosen to be trained by Jesus himself, as one of the disciples, a full time worker if you please.