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Summary: THIS IS THE FIRST OF A PRE-EASTER SERIES ON THE CHARACTERS OF EASTER. IN THIS MESSAGE WE LOOK AT JUDAS ISCARIOT.

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TRAFFICKING IN TREACHERY

MATTHEW 27:1-10

TODAY WE ARE STARTING ON AN EASTER SERIES THAT IS LOOKING AT SOME OF THE CHARACTERS IN THE DRAMA. EASTER IS A TIME WHERE WE WILL SEE A LOVE STORY EMERGE FROM AMONGST STORIES OF LIES, TREACHERY, PAIN AND TERROR.

MANY OF THESE DIFFERENT STORY LINES EMERGE FROM THE VAROIUS CHARACTERS THAT WE ASSOCIATE WITH THE EASTER STORY. WHEN WE THINK OF THEIR NAMES THEY CAN HAVE YOU FORM MENTAL PICTURES AND BRING UP FEELINGS TOWARD THEM.

NAMES ARE VERY IMPORTANT, FOR BOTH GOOD AND BAD REASONS.

I READ THIS WEEK ABOUT A COUPLE WHO CAUGHT AN INTRUDER IN THEIR BEDROOM. THE THIEF PULLED OUT A GUN AND ANNOUNCED, “NOW THAT YOU’VE SEEN ME, I’M GOING TO HAVE TO KILL YOU.” HE POINTED THE GUN AT THE WIFE AND SAID, “I LIKE TO KNOW THE NAMES OF MY VICTIMS, WHAT’S YOURS?”

“ELIZABETH” SHE REPLIED. THE INTRUDER LOOKED SHOCKED AND THEN SAID, “I CAN’T DO IT. MY MOTHER WAS NAMED ELIZABETH.” THEN, RECOVERING HIS COMPOSURE, HE ASKED THE HUSBAND, “WHATS YOUR NAME?”

THE HUSBAND LOOKED AT THE GUN, AT HIS WIFE, THEN BACK AT THE BURGLAR AND SAID. “JOE”, THEN IN A SHAKING VOICE ADDED, “BUT MY FRIENDS ALL CALL ME ELIZABETH.”

BEFORE WWII THE NEW YORK CITY PHONE BOOK HAD 22 HITLERS LISTED. AFTER THE WAR THERE WERE NONE AS PEOPLE CHANGED THEIR NAMES SO PEOPLE WOULD NOT ASSOCIATE THEM WITH THE EVIL OF THAT MAN.

A NUMBER OF YEARS AGO, IT WAS POPULAR TO GIVE CHILDREN NAMES FROM CHARACTERS OF THE BIBLE. JAMES, MATTHEW, JOHN, MARTHA, ELIZABETH AND A SCORE OF OTHERS WERE FREQUENTLY USED. ONE NAME THAT WAS NEVER USED THOUGH WAS JUDAS.

JUDAS WAS A NAME ASSOCIATED WITH TREACHERY EVER SINCE THE TIME OF CHRIST. AS A TREASURER OF THE GROUP HE WAS A THIEF. JOHN RECORDS AN INCIDENT THAT HAPPENED AT A FEAST HONORING CHRIST. MARY BROKE A JAR OF VERY EXPENSIVE OINTMENT AND ANOINTED JESUS’ FEET WITH IT. JUDAS OBJECTED TO THIS AS AN EXTRAVAGANCE. NOTE JOHN’S ADDITIONAL NOTE.

JOHN 12:6: 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.

JUDAS IS A NAME THAT WHEN MENTIONED YOU WILL NOT FORGET THOUGH YOU MAY WANT TO. HE IS THE ONLY DISCIPLE MENTIONED IN COLLIN’S ENGLISH DICTIONARY AND THE DEFINITION READS: “THE DISCIPLE WHO BETRAYED JESUS, A TRAITOR OR BETRAYER.”

JESUS HAD A YOUNGER BROTHER ALSO NAMED JUDAS. WHEN HE WROTE THE LETTER THAT WOULD BECOME PART OF THE NEW TESTAMENT HE USED A VARIATION OF HIS NAME, “JUDE”.

TODAY, AS WE CONSIDER JUDAS, WE ARE GOING TO SEE HIM IN A NEW LIGHT, AND WE WILL CONSIDER THE HIGH COST OF TREACHERY. IN SOME WAYS JUDAS DIDN’T HAVE TO PAY THIS PRICE, BUT JESUS KNEW THAT HE WOULD. TODAY I WANT TO SHOW YOU HOW CLOSE TO FORGIVENESS JUDAS WAS BEFORE IT ELUDED HIM. CONSIDER IT CAREFULLY FOR MANY ARE WALKING THIS SAME PATH.

POINT ONE: HISTORY OF JUDAS

WE ARE GOING TO LOOK AT TWO QUESTIONS WHEN IT COMES TO THE HISTORY OF JUDAS:

1. WHAT IS THE MORPHOLOGY OF HIS NAME?

2. WAS JUDAS A TRUE DISCIPLE?

LET ME BEGIN BY SAYING THAT THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH THE NAME JUDAS. IT WAS WHAT THE PERSON DID THAT WAS WRONG. JUDAS IS A VARIANT OF JUDAH, ONE OF THE TRIBES OF ISRAEL. IT MEANS “HE SHALL BE PRAISED”. “ISCARIOT” IS A COMBINATION OF TWO HEBREW WORDS – “ISH” AND “KARIOT”, OR MAN OF KARIAT. THIS IS SIGNIFICANT BECAUSE BEING FROM KERRIOTH, JUDAS WOULD BE THE ONLY NON-GALILEAN IN THE GROUP OF TWELVE AND FEEL LIKE THE ODD MAN OUT.

THE GREEK FORM OF “ISCARIOT” WAS WORSE. IN GREEK IT MEANT “DAGGER BEARER”. THE DAGGER BEARERS WERE A BAND OF VIOLENT NATIONALISTS, MUCH LIKE THE ZEALOTS, WHO WERE PREPARED TO USE EVERY MEANS AT THEIR DISPOSAL, TO FREE PALESTINE FROM ROMAN RULE. SOME THEOLOGIANS FEEL THAT JUDAS BETRAYED JESUS BECAUSE HE WOULD NOT LEAD AN UPRISING AGAINST THE ROMANS.

AS FOR QUESTION TWO, THERE HAS BEEN MUCH DISCUSSION ABOUT THE ISSUE, WITHOUT MUCH CONCRETE CONCLUSIONS OFFERED.

THERE ARE THOSE WHO WOULD THINK THAT JUDAS FITS INTO THE CATEGORY OF “UNSAVED CHURCH MEMBER.” THESE ARE PEOPLE WHO GO TO CHURCH, SERVE IN VARIOUS CAPACITIES, BUT HAVE NEVER MADE AN AUTHENTIC DECISION TO BELIEVE IN CHRIST AS LORD AND SAVIOUR.

THIS IS A GOOD WAY TO EXPLAIN JUDAS, BUT ALSO QUITE IMPOSSIBLE TO PROVE AS NO ONE KNOWS WHAT’S IN ANOTHER’S HEART.

THE SCRIPTURE DOES RECORD THAT JUDAS RECEIVED THE SAME COMMISSION AND ANOINTING AS THE OTHER MEN.

MARK 3:14-19:

HE APPOINTED TWELVE E THAT THEY MIGHT BE WITH HIM AND THAT HE MIGHT SEND THEM OUT TO PREACH 15 AND TO HAVE AUTHORITY TO DRIVE OUT DEMONS. 16 THESE ARE THE TWELVE HE APPOINTED: SIMON (TO WHOM HE GAVE THE NAME PETER), 17 JAMES SON OF ZEBEDEE AND HIS BROTHER JOHN (TO THEM HE GAVE THE NAME BOANERGES, WHICH MEANS “SONS OF THUNDER”), 18 ANDREW, PHILIP, BARTHOLOMEW, MATTHEW, THOMAS, JAMES SON OF ALPHAEUS, THADDAEUS, SIMON THE ZEALOT 19 AND JUDAS ISCARIOT, WHO BETRAYED HIM.

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