Summary: Easter Sunday 2006. This sermon looks at Judas and the tragic results of "Skipping Easter." One would miss out on a Pardon from Christ, the Peace of Christ, the Power of Christ and Paradise with Christ.
Easter Sunday 2006
April 16, 2006
A year or two ago a movie came out in theatres called “Christmas with the Kranks.” The movie starred Tim Allen and was based on a book by best-selling author John Grisham titled “Skipping Christmas.” The movie told the hilarious tale of what happened to the Kranks when one year they decided to skip Christmas.
The story I have to tell may not be nearly as hilarious, but it has been a part of many major motion pictures and most recently “The Passion of the Christ” directed and produced by Mel Gibson. It also is based on a book – the best selling book of all time – the Holy Bible. It is the story of what happened to a man named Judas Iscariot when one year he decided to skip Easter. And not just any Easter either, but the very first Easter – the Easter Sunday to which all Easter Sundays look back.
Judas had been a faithful follower of Jesus Christ for several years. He had been one of the select few specifically chosen by Christ himself to be a part of his inner circle – to be one of the twelve disciples – to be an apostle. For three years he traveled with Jesus as he was trained by Jesus and taught be Jesus – all in preparation for his role as one of the leaders – one of the pillars of the future church.
Everything seemed to be going so well, but as in all great dramas, something then went wrong – tragically wrong. Judas inexplicably turned on his friend/mentor/rabbi, partnered with a conspiracy of Jewish leaders and betrayed Jesus to his death at the hands of Roman executioners.
But why? Why did Judas do it? This question has been asked for nearly 2,000 years. Why did Judas turn on Jesus? Many suggestions have been offered:
1) The name Iscariot is likely a combination of two Hebrew words – Ish and Kariot, which literally mean Man of Kerioth. If so that means that Judas was the only non-Galilean among the disciples. Perhaps because of this he was considered to be an outsider by the rest of the disciples. All we have to do to see what feeling like an outsider can do to someone and what lengths it can drive them to is to look back at what happened at Columbine a few years ago. Perhaps the same thing that drove the Columbine gunmen drove Judas.
2) Maybe when he learned that there was a Jewish plot to assassinate Jesus he panicked and betrayed his friend in order to save his own skin. Maybe it was that simple: a desire for self-preservation.
3) It is also possible that it was simply good old fashioned greed that motivated Judas. We know that he was greedy for money because the Bible tells us that as Jesus’ treasurer Judas used to cook the books and pocket some of the money when he thought no one was looking. I’ve heard people ask why Judas would do something like this for only thirty pieces of silver. Well, according to my research those thirty pieces of silver would have been worth around $10,000 in today’s money. People have been killed for far less.
4) It has also been suggested that maybe Judas came to hate Christ because Jesus could look straight into his heart and see him for who he really was. Others might look to him as someone who was really somebody. An elite follower of Christ. The one trusted with the finances. But every time Jesus looked at him Judas could see the disappointment in his eyes for Jesus saw a thief and a traitor.
5) It is also possible that Iscariot wasn’t a derivative of Hebrews words, but of Greek. If so his name may have meant “Dagger Bearer.” The Dagger Bearers were an elite group of violent Jewish nationalists who would do anything – even assassination – in order to see Israel freed from Roman control. Perhaps he thought he saw in Jesus the makings of a political Savior who would unite the people and overthrow the Romans. However, when it became apparent that Jesus had no such ambitions Judas grew disappointed and disillusioned and betrayed him in disgust.
6) On the other hand, it is possible that Judas never intended for Jesus to die that day. He may have been disappointed when he realized that Jesus had no intention of using his supernatural powers to deliver the Jews from Roman rule and so Judas decided to force his hand. Judas may well have believed that when they came to arrest Jesus and kill him that he would call upon 10,000 angels to destroy the Romans and set him free.