Summary: 1st of Lent sermon series on how God used’ Judas’ greed for the greatest act of generosity ever.
One Man’s Trash is Our Lord’s Treasure
Trash 1 - Judas’ Greed
The garbage man comes every Monday afternoon between one and three o’clock. It hasn’t happened for a while, but every now and then I forget to take the trash out. I hate that when that happens, because then I end up with a whole bunch of garbage bags sitting out by my garage, the neighborhood dog gets into it, and before I know it my trash is all over the playground area.
During these Lent services we are going to look at different men’s trash. These garbage bags contain a variety of things - greed, denial, anger, you name it. As we spread their trash out and look at it - it isn’t just to make us feel better about ourselves and slander their names. The Scriptures were given for our learning - so we can learn first of all what God did with their garbage, second of all what we can do with our garbage, and third of all how we can refrain from the same kind of garbage.
In our first lesson of this series, we are going to look at Judas trash - a bag full of greed. We’ll also see what he does with that bag of greed. The most important point for tonight is how -
Judas’ Greed is Turned into God’s Generosity
Judas was given many gifts. Matthew 10:1-2 says, “He (Jesus) called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out evil spirits and to heal every disease and sickness. These are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon (who is called Peter) and his brother Andrew; James son of Zebedee, and his brother John; Matthew 10:3-4 Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.” Judas - as one of the twelve, was enabled to drive out evil spirits - heal diseases and sicknesses - and preach about the kingdom of God. Anyone who would claim that Judas never really had the Holy Spirit - was never REALLY a believer - must either be blind or assume that Judas was a master magician. He had special gifts. Listen to what Psalm 41:9 says of him. “Even my close friend, whom I trusted, he who shared my bread, has lifted up his heel against me.” He is called a CLOSE FRIEND of Jesus. These are not flattering words - for God does not flatter. They are true. Judas Iscariot - the only disciples from Kerioth in southern Judah - was a close friend, a trusted confidant of Jesus at the beginning of his ministry. On top of this, he was also given the responsibility as keeper of the money bag. (John 12:6) Judas was not listed as one of the former tax collectors - like Matthew was. Therefore, it seems they trusted him to use his God given gifts of money counting for the good of the kingdom.
At some point in his ministry however - it would appear rather early - Judas didn’t do well with his responsibilities. In John chapter 6, Jesus told the crowd of disciples that they had to “eat his flesh” if they wanted to enter the kingdom of God. As a result of this hard teaching, many people left. But not the 12. When Jesus asked them, “are you going to leave?”, Peter answered, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” A wonderful response. Yet Jesus answered, “Have I not chosen you, the Twelve? Yet one of you is a devil!” (John 6:70-71) Jesus said that Judas - at that point - was a devil. Satan had already started to work strongly in his heart.
This weakness was displayed on Tuesday (Mark 14:10) of Holy Week. A woman came and poured expensive perfume on Jesus’ feet. It was over a year’s worth of wages. John 12:4-6 says, “But one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray him, objected, “Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages.” It then adds, “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.” It makes you wonder why Jesus didn’t reprimand Judas for skimming money from the money bag at an earlier part in the ministry. It could be that in his humility he did not choose to know which disciple it was. As was the case with Pharaoh, sometimes God bears with great patience those who are dead set on evil - so that he can use their evil for good. But this time, when Judas and the disciples tried to reprimand the generous lady with the perfume, Jesus rebuked him. John 12:7 says, “‘Leave her alone,’ Jesus replied. ‘It was intended that she should save this perfume for the day of my burial.’”