Summary: I can hear these words of Jesus ring through every gathering of his people. There is always a chance that someone will begin to walk in the shoes of Judas unless we stay close to Jesus.
ONE OF YOU SHALL BETRAY ME
by Pastor James May
Matthew 26:20-23, "Now when the even was come, he sat down with the twelve. And as they did eat, he said, Verily I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me. And they were exceeding sorrowful, and began every one of them to say unto him, Lord, is it I? And he answered and said, He that dippeth his hand with me in the dish, the same shall betray me."
The setting for this scripture is very well known to anyone who has read the account of Jesus’ final hours upon this earth prior to his crucifixion. He is in the upper room, seated at the table with all of the disciples. They are celebrating the Passover meal together for the last time.
There were all the disciples that Jesus loved and had spent so many long hours with, trying to teach them the ways of God and praying that these men would stand the tests to come. There was Simon Peter, the big fisherman and the strong man of the group, and his brother, Andrew. There were James and John, the sons of Zebedee; Philip and Bartholomew; Simon, Thomas, Matthew, the converted tax collector, James, the son of Alphaeus and Thaddeus and then there was one more whose name we would rather forget, Judas Iscariot.
They all sat there, just have a good time of fellowship and looking forward to the victory that was ahead. They were convinced that the kingdom would be soon forged from the hands of the Romans and Israel would once again become a great nation.
I’ve never known fisherman who didn’t like to tell fish stories and so I wonder if the fishermen at this table were any different or if they were still trying to outdo one another with their fishing tales? There were a few of them who had a really hard time adjusting to being a part of this type of crowd. One of those was Matthew who had given up a “good job” as a tax collector for the Romans. He was one of those people who the Jews loved to hate.
This setting kind of reminds me of the church. Here we sit, with Jesus in our midst. All too often we forget about the fact that Jesus is here with us. He has promised us that where two or three are gathered, he will be there too. Just like those disciples at the Last Supper, we tend to take him so much for granted. It’s easy to get comfortable around Jesus, after all he is the Prince of Peace, the great God of mercy and grace, and his love knows no bounds. Who couldn’t feel comfortable around him and who couldn’t enjoy his presence?
But as we examine this setting with the disciples I am also reminded that we, the church, are like those disciples at the Last Supper in other ways too. Yes Jesus was there, the disciples were there; but someone else was there too. Who else was there? It was the devil himself and he was working overtime.
How many of you believe that the devil often walks into the midst of church? I can tell you that he comes in all the time. He comes walking on two legs wearing pants or a skirt, because he comes in with those whose minds, hearts and attitudes are not right with God.
He comes for three purposes – to steal your victory, to kill the moving of the Holy Spirit, and to destroy the work of the Kingdom that goes on in this church. “Old Slew Foot” is right there, every time we come together because it’s his job to hinder the work of the kingdom of God in any way that he can.
As I look at the those 12 disciples sitting around that table, with Jesus talking to them I cannot but notice that there is one disciple who is rather quiet and nervous. He isn’t joining in with the others. It’s as though his mind is preoccupied with something outside of the room. Could it be that his mind was filled with the things of this world?
There he was, sitting in the very presence of Jesus, hearing the audible voice of the Son of God, sitting in the middle of some of the greatest men of faith that have ever walked the earth, and yet his thoughts were not on Jesus or on the work that he had been called to do. He was only thinking of what he would buy, where he could go, what a good time he would have, once he had completed the task that he had to finish later this same night.
Judas had made a contract with the devil. He looked like a disciple. He acted like a disciple. He knew all the right moves, the right words, the right way to smile, the right way to pray, the right way to dress – in short, he had all the appearances on the outside of being a great man of faith, but his heart was as black as coal and he was yet dead in his sin, and before this night was over, he would be forever imprisoned in the Lake of Fire.