Summary: This is the 43rd sermon in a series on the Gospel of John. In this sermon we look closer at Judas, and at why he betrayed the Lord, and at the warning this gives to us as well.
Looking Closer at Judas (John Part 42)
Text: John 13:18-30
We’re back in John’s Gospel this morning. Last week we took the opportunity to honor all the moms out there on Mother’s Day, and next Sunday we’ll try to honor those we’ve lost while serving our nation on Memorial Day… but today, we’re going to be looking at something that… in my opinion, is one of the most disturbing things in all the Gospels. The betrayal of Jesus by Judas Iscariot.
We’re in John chapter 13 and we’ll be reading through verses 18 – 30, and while you’re turning there, let me just remind you of what’s been going on: Jesus and His disciples are celebrating Passover. They were just about to eat the meal, and Jesus got up and washed the disciple’s feet. And in doing that, He was teaching a valuable lesson about serving and forgiveness. And if you remember, we talked about how if you’ve been washed by the blood of Christ, you are clean… you are saved, but from time to time we slip up and sin, and when we do that, because we have been made clean, all we need to do is “wash our feet”, or basically go to God and seek forgiveness. We have an advocate with the Father – Jesus Christ, and His blood cleanses us from ALL sin.
So… here in our text, they’ve sat down once more and have begun to eat… so let’s go ahead and read it (READ John 13:18-30).
So how does a man who has spent nearly 3 and ½ years with Jesus, come to decide that he’s going to betray Him? How does a guy who has seen Jesus turn water into wine, walk on water, feed well over 5000 people (on more than one occasion), heal the sick, give sight to the blind, calm storms and raise Lazarus from the dead – How does he come to the conclusion that it would be a good idea to betray Jesus?
There have been some scholars who have said that Judas grew impatient with Jesus. They’ve said that Judas had initially bought into the idea that Jesus was some kind of revolutionary who was going to put an end to injustice, and an end to Roman corruption… Just like all the other disciples did… but after 3 years, he got impatient, and began to realize that Jesus wasn’t talking about over-throwing Rome, but was instead talking about changing peoples’ hearts, and setting them free from sin. And Judas didn’t really want to be free from sin. His idea of freedom was not only being out from under the authority of Rome, but also out from under the authority of God. And there may be some truth to that, but still… you’ve seen Jesus do things that only God can do.
We also know for a fact that Judas was enslaved to the love of money. He was the guy who was in charge of the money bag, and the Bible tells us that he was stealing from it… he was skimming off the top so to speak. And throughout history, we’ve seen a lot of people betray one another for money… How many times throughout history have we seen a C.I.A. or N.S.A. agent turn on his own country for money? And you guys know that the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. Or maybe… just maybe it came down to the fact that Judas was a coward. Maybe he had started to see the writing on the wall… I mean, over the last few days, Jesus has already told the disciples that He was going to die… that He would be crucified. Maybe Judas actually heard that, and was paying attention, and he was like, “I’m getting out while I still can, and I’m going to make some money to boot.”
It could have been any combination of these things that Satan used to tempt Judas… but ultimately it’s Judas’s own sin and hardness of heart. It takes us all the way back to the beginning of John’s Gospel, where John says, “Men love darkness rather than light.” And it takes us all the way through John’s Gospel, where we’ve seen crowds turn away from following Jesus over and over again… but now it’s hitting the inner circle… Now it’s going to be one of His disciples… and eventually almost everyone – except for His momma, and a few other women, and John.
So there’s an important warning here for John’s readers that I want you to see. And it’s vital that we see it and understand it.
So let’s break this passage down, starting with verse 18 – Jesus says it right off the bat, “I know who I have chosen.” Church – that’s the doctrine of election right there. And I know a lot of people hate that teaching. But if you want to get rid of it, then you had better get out your little exacto knife and be prepared to cut out literally hundreds of verses from the New Testament alone. Jesus is saying, as clear as day, “Out of you 12 men, I know who I have chosen. So I’m not speaking to all of you concerning being washed clean by My blood, and then by you coming and seeking forgiveness when you sin. Only to you whom I’ve chosen.”