Summary: Description ? The second sermon of my 2005 Lenten series.
(Opening of the sermon is the dramatic reading script ?Father Forgive Them? by Elaine Aadland for the Lenten Series, ?Watchers on the Hill,? produced by Creative Communications for the Parish © 2003)
What do you do with the story of Judas? How do you reconcile Jesus? calling of him to be one of the twelve with this tragic situation? How do you reconcile Jesus? act of salvation with Judas? acts of betrayal and suicide?
We need for a time this morning to go behind the scenes of this tragic event and look at Judas? motivation for what he did ? both in his betrayal and in his act of suicide - because there are some important lessons from this tragic event that we need to learn this morning.
First, we need to establish a couple of things that take place in the gospel of Matthew from which our main text is taken. One thing that we need to establish is that Matthew records four separate occasions when Jesus foretells of his betrayal and death.
The first occasion, recorded in Matthew 16:21- 23, comes after Peter, in response to Jesus? questions of ?Who do people say that the Son of Man is?? and ?Who do you say that I am?? to which Peter replies, ?You are the Messiah the Son of the Living God.?
?From then on,? writes Matthew in verse 21, ?Jesus began to tell his disciples plainly that he had to go to Jerusalem, and he told them what would happen to him there. He would suffer at the hands of the leaders and leading priests and teachers of the religious law. He would be killed, and he would be raised on the third day.?
The second time that Jesus foretells of his death and betrayal is in chapter 17 and verses 22 and 23 ?One day after they had returned to Galilee, Jesus told them, ?The Son of Man is going to be betrayed. He will be killed, but three days later he will be raised from the dead.? And the disciples? hearts were filled with grief.?
Notice that the word betrayal appears in this second passage but not in the first. Jesus begins to clarify the picture a little more, as to what would happen to Him in Jerusalem. He would not only be killed but someone would betray Him as well.
The third recorded occasion when Jesus mentions His death and betrayal takes place in Matthew 20 and verses 17 through 19. This discussion takes place on the way to Jerusalem when Christ would be arrested and crucified. It is His final journey to Jerusalem with the twelve before His death. ?As Jesus was on the way to Jerusalem,? notes Matthew ?he took the twelve disciples aside privately and told them what was going to happen to him. ?When we get to Jerusalem,? he said, ?the Son of Man will be betrayed to the leading priests and the teachers of religious law. They will sentence him to die. Then they will hand him over to the Romans to be mocked, whipped, and crucified. But on the third day he will be raised from the dead.?
Now the picture becomes even clearer than before and it would be interesting to note how much time had taken place between these three pronouncements. It is safe to say, based on the commonly accepted view that Jesus? ministry lasted three years, that these recorded conversations about Christ?s betrayal and death took place over that three-year period.
The second thing we need to establish is that in each of these texts the identity of who the betrayer is is not made clear. Until we read Matthew 26:12, ?While they (that is Jesus and the twelve) were eating he said, ?The truth is, one of you will betray me.? Now it gets personal. Now it becomes clearer. The foretelling of betrayal and death becomes clearer than before.
Now we have a better understanding of the shock of the disciples at this statement. Eleven of the twelve then ask Jesus, ?I?m not the one, am I, Lord?? To which Jesus responds, ?One of you who is eating with me now will betray me.? Now as they all were eating together, this did not narrow the field to one suspect.
However, Judas asks, ?Teacher, I?m not the one, am I?? And Jesus responds, ?You have said it yourself.?
Questions come flooding into my mind, ?What does the difference in the question mean? Eleven say, ?Lord? and one says ?teacher.? Why the difference? Is this indicative of a change in Judas? attitude toward Jesus?
An even bigger question to me is, ?Why did Jesus choose Judas to be one of the Twelve? Why didn?t He choose someone else who would have been faithful and loyal??