Summary: 2nd in a Lenten series, this sermon deals with betrayal of commitment to Christ!
A mother sits in her darkened room. She is thinking about her child. Her son. She has just learned that her child, someone who had been a follower of Jesus had not only left Jesus, but more than that, people were whispering about her child. They have labeled him. They were making accusations against him. They were using a horrible word: Betrayer!
Her child would now be talked about. He would be called faithless. Her child would be said to have betrayed the one in whom he pledged his trust. He would be the Benedict Arnold of the day. She sat and sobbed uncontrollably. How could it be? How could it be that my son turned away from Jesus? Worse than that, maybe even betrayed him?
She remembered the first time that he spoke of his relationship with Jesus! She remembered the commitment and zeal to which he abandoned his own life to follow the Lord. Then it happened! How could it be? Her son had just betrayed Jesus by his actions. Even if he said he was a follower, his actions showed that not of a follower, but that of a betrayer! How could he have turned his back on Christ! The mother sobbed uncontrollably!
There she sat in darkness, Wanda Bradford, my mother, wondering how her son Scott could be away in the military; have a young woman named Laurel pregnant; that he was not going to church; that his life was immersed in sin. Just how could he have turned his back on Jesus?
And you thought I was talking about Judas? Have you ever noticed that not many parents name their children Judas? 2005 the most popular boys name was Aiden. But what about Benedict or Judas? Can you imagine parents searching through the baby book? "J", how about Judas? Judas Smith or Benedict Jones? What a lovely name, right? Wrong!
To betray someone is to be “unfaithful”, or to break a trust. Few here this morning don’t know that feeling! Maybe someone broke your trust! An unfaithful spouse or friend. A group or special friend in High School that betrayed a trusted secret and told someone else. Even all the other disciples besides Judas would wonder for a split second. Jesus said “One of you is about to betray me”. The others ask, “Is it I? Surely not I?”
We might always wonder about the inflection. Surely not I? Me? Jesus it’s me you are talking about! (Enough said). “The one whom I give the dip to eat” It could be any of us, or hand on the table with Jesus!
David Wilkerson (The Cross and the Switchblade) Says of Judas Iscariot: (1) “He was a handpicked disciple of Jesus Christ: a preacher of the gospel, a healer of the sick, a traveling companion of Jesus. He was so trusted he was made treasurer of the apostolic evangelistic team. He wasn’t elected to the position - Jesus personally chose Judas for the job.” (1 – The Truth About Judas, June 15th, 1992).
Each of us have been chosen, but do we betray Christ by our actions, our anger, our sin? I don’t recommend this show, but I caught a few minutes of an episode of “The Moment of Truth” (Fox). The contestant was asked have you ever stolen from your employer and let someone else take the blame. The answer was “yes”. The contestant then explained he worked at a hot dog shop as a kid and would sell a hotdog for $1 and then often pocket the cash. Day, the boss lined them all up, and said “One of you have been stealing and pocketing $1 bills” and he turned to another employee and named him. And he let the kid take the fall. But he was not just a thief, he was a betrayer, not just of friendship, but of trust!
Are we any better? Do we turn from the light and into the darkness? We let temptations consume us! We let our passions drive us! We put selfishness before sacrifice. And sometimes we sell out, like Judas and don’t even know we have done it. Wilkerson notes that “Satan needed a Judas”. He in fact looks for the weakness. He looks for a Judas, or a Peter, or a Scott, or a Janey! No different, Peter was also a betrayer. He denied he even knew Jesus. He denied him three times. But lets look at the difference between Judas and Peter, and the hope for you and me. Someone once said: “Every saint has a past, every sinner a future!”
Let’s look at John 21:15-19 (1-19). (read). Three times Peter denied Jesus, and three time Jesus now gives Peter the opportunity to pledge his love. Three times forgiven. The difference between Judas and Peter was the turning back to God in Jesus Christ and receiving the forgiveness and love he offers.