Summary: Jesus loved to ask questions (the Gospels list at least 135 of his questions). The most powerful question Jesus asked in this text was "Who are you looking for?" Who they were looking for tells us a lot about the people in this story.
About 10 years ago, there was a sight-seeing tour in Iceland that lost one of its sightseers. She was no where to be found. Panicked, they called in the police and the search began. Hours later (about 3 in the morning) they discovered that the woman they were searching for had been there all the time. Apparently, the woman had left the tourist group to change clothes and when she returned in a different outfit the rest of her tour group did not recognize her. On top of that, when the description of the “missing person” described her as – “An Asian woman, in dark clothing and speaks English well” – the woman seemingly didn’t realize they were describing HER. So she began to assist the others in searching… for herself. (https://www.cbsnews.com/news/missing-woman-finds-herself-after-intense-search/ Article from August 30, 2012)
She didn’t know who she was looking for!
In our text today we’re told that: “Judas, having procured a band of soldiers and some officers from the chief priests and the Pharisees, went (to the Garden) with lanterns and torches and weapons. Then Jesus, knowing all that would happen to him, came forward and said to them, ‘Whom do you seek?’” John 18:3-4
WHO ARE YOU LOOKING FOR? Jesus asked.
You know, Jesus loved to ask questions. According to one of my sources, Jesus asked at least 135 questions during His ministry: Do you believe that I am able to do this? (Matthew 9:28); Who do you say I am? (Matthew 16:15); What do you want me to do for you? (Mark 10:51); Why are you so afraid? (Mark 4:40); Do you love me? (John 21:17); and perhaps the most important: What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet loses his soul? (Matthew 16:26)
Jesus always seemed to ask the right question at the right time to challenge people to think about what they were doing. And so, when this band of armed men come to arrest Him, Jesus asked the right question/ at the right time/ to challenge them to think: “Who are you looking for?”
Well WHO were they looking for?
Let’s look at first guy out of the box … Judas. WHO was he looking for? We’re told “JUDAS, having procured a band of soldiers and some officers from the chief priests and the Pharisees, went (to the Garden) with lanterns and torches and weapons.” Judas is leading an armed band to go and arrest Jesus. Judas was LOOKING for Jesus to betray him with a kiss.
At the Last Supper Jesus said “I tell you the truth, one of you will betray me”… Judas, the one who would betray him, said, “Surely not I, Rabbi?” Jesus answered, “Yes, it is you.” Matthew 26:21 & 25
Judas wasn’t a very nice guy and he’s gone down in history as one of the most despised men of all time. He’s become the symbol of betrayal. But why? Why did Judas betray Jesus? Well, he was a man driven by greed. John described him a thief --- he stole money from the money bag that the disciples used to buy stuff. (Jn 12:6)
Judas’ reputation was so blackened by this treachery that in every one of the Gospels, whenever there’s a list of the disciples…he’s always LAST. In fact, one of the other disciples (named Thaddeus) was also called Judas, and in John 14:22 John refers to him as “Judas (not Judas Iscariot)” just make sure no one confused the good Judas with the bad one.
Now, all that said, what’s interesting to me is HOW the Bible talks about Judas beyond that. Did you realize that Jesus never mistreated Judas? In fact, Judas was at the Last Supper… and Jesus even washed Judas’ feet. In addition, aside from the Gospels, Judas is only mentioned ONE MORE TIME (in Acts 1:13-25) and he’s NEVER mentioned ever again in rest of the New Testament. You’d think that one of the most notorious traitors in Scripture would have gotten more press than that. I mean, Benedict Arnold gets worse treatment than that in American History! Why does Judas get this “kid-glove” treatment in the Bible?
Well here’s the deal… the message of Scripture is that ALL have sinned and fall short of the glory of God - every one of us!! In I Corinthians 6:9-10 Paul writes: “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.” THEY’RE ALL GONNA GO TO HELL!!!!!
But, we’ve all sinned too, and that means we all DESERVE go to hell. But then Paul writes: “And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” I Corinthians 6:11