Summary: Judas missed the most important "Sonrise" ever because he was looking for the wrong kind of Messiah.
Good morning and welcome to our eighth annual Sunrise Service here at Dove Mountain Park. I know many of you have joined us in prior years – in fact there may even be a few of you that have been with us all eight years. And if you’ve been with us before, you probably know that on Easter, I like to focus on a person whose life was impacted in a significant way by the event we’re celebrating this morning – the resurrection of Jesus.
So in past years we’ve seen how the resurrection impacted people like Mary, Thomas, Peter, John, and the Roman guard. And in each case, their lives were changed radically because of the resurrection of Jesus. But this morning I’m going to take a little different approach. Today, we’ll focus on someone who missed the greatest historical event in the history of mankind.
This morning we’re having a sunrise service. Depending on which source you use the sun officially rose this morning in Tucson some time between 5:59 and 6:03 a.m. Obviously it rose a little later right here because the Catalina Mountains are between us and the sun. So technically if you arrived right at the beginning of the service this morning you missed the sunrise. But there is another “Sonrise” that I want to make sure that none of us miss – the rising of God’s Son, Jesus, from the grave that very first Easter morning.
Unfortunately Judas missed that most important “Sonrise” ever. Most of us know that Judas is the one who betrayed Jesus to the Jewish religious authorities. But I think we tend to forget what happened to him after that. As we read the account of Jesus’ arrest and His trial before the Jewish council and the Roman authorities in Matthew’s gospel account, Matthew records what happened to Judas during that process:
Then when Judas, his betrayer, saw that Jesus was condemned, he changed his mind and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders, saying, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.” They said, “What is that to us? See to it yourself.” And throwing down the pieces of silver into the temple, he departed, and he went and hanged himself.
Matthew 27:3-5 (ESV)
To me this is one of the saddest accounts in the entire Bible. Just think about it. Had Judas just waited three more days, He could have witnessed the greatest event in the history of mankind – the resurrection of Jesus – and personally experienced the changed life that could have been his as a result of that event.
Unfortunately, nearly 2,000 years later, people are still missing out on that same “Sonrise”, probably for some of the very same reasons that Judas missed it. So this morning, let’s take a few minutes to see if we can figure out why Judas missed that “Sonrise” and use what we find out to make sure that none of us miss it, too.
Judas missed out on the “Sonrise” because:
Although the Bible doesn’t tell us directly exactly why Judas did what he did, I think there is enough in the Biblical text to help us determine at least some of the reasons that Judas missed out on that “Sonrise”. I’m going to focus on just two of them this morning:
1. He didn’t understand God’s plan
Judas’ surname, Iscariot, probably means “a man from Kerioth”. If that is the case, then Judas would have been from a city in Judea and therefore the only one of the twelve apostles who was not a Galilean. So some have speculated that Judas became bitter over being the odd man out and that is what drove him to betray Jesus.
However, we just don’t have any Biblical evidence to support that theory. It seems much more likely that Judas never really intended for Jesus to die that day. There is some good evidence that Judas was probably part of a group known as Zealots. In the list of apostles in the Bible, he is listed in a pair with Simon the Zealot and it’s also possible that his surname, Iscariot, connects him with that group.
These Zealots, as a result of their misunderstanding of the Old Testament prophecies about the Messiah, believed that if they incited war against the Romans the Messiah would arise against them and God would install His king to rule over Israel.
At first, Judas and the other Zealots were very excited about Jesus and His early teachings and the miracles that He performed, which led them to believe He was in fact the Messiah they were looking for. But as Jesus began to talk more and more about dying on the cross that just didn’t fit with their idea of what the Messiah should be like.