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Summary: Jesus was denied by all sorts of people. Are we like them?

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Sentence of Scripture:

“He was despised and rejected by others; a man of suffering and acquainted with infirmity; and as one from whom others hide their faces he was despised, and we held him of no account. 4Surely he has borne our infirmities and carried our diseases; yet we accounted him stricken, struck down by God, and afflicted.” (Isa 53:3-4 NRSV)

Song: Beneath the Cross of Jesus

Prayer: Heavenly Father, we pray, as we come to worship you and to meditate on the saving work of your beloved son, Jesus Christ, that our minds might be lifted above the worries of this world to focus on you; our hearts filled with wonder at your saving grace and forgiveness; and our spirits joined with your Holy Spirit in full commitment to your Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Song: At The Cross

Judas John 18:1-9

"Who are you looking for?" (John 18:4, 7)

Have you ever said to yourself (as I have), if only I could talk with Jesus and walk with Jesus, I would really commit my life to him? If I could just see Jesus face-to-face and hear his teaching in person I would have no doubts about him. If only it was that simple. Judas walked with Jesus. Judas talked with Jesus. And Judas listened to his teaching. Probably for about three years. But still, the Gospels tell us, in the end it was Judas "who betrayed him" (John 18:2, 5). How could someone who had been so close to Jesus – one of his disciples, one of his own followers (6:71; 12:4) – deny him? You really can count on one hand the people who were closer to Jesus than Judas was. And yet from the very first time he is mentioned in John’s Gospel he is called Judas "the betrayer" (6:64). Even Hollywood hasn’t made that into a movie! For the rest of history he has been the face of treason.

Over the centuries there have been a lot of theories about why Judas did what he did. In the end we just don’t know. The Gospels, especially, John’s Gospel, are not interested in what Judas’s psychological or political motivations might have been. There is no Judas kiss in John’s Gospel. The thirty silver coins he was paid for his treason are not mentioned. There is nothing about Judas showing remorse for his actions, as Matthew’s Gospel (27:3-10) tells us he did. John was only concerned with the terrible choice Judas made. Judas walked with Jesus and talked with Jesus and in the end, for whatever reason, Judas denied him and betrayed him. All the way through John’s Gospel there are hints that two worlds are in conflict – the world of God, represented by Jesus, and the world of Satan, represented, on this night, by Judas. Judas’ choice for or against Jesus, was, therefore, a choice for or against God. Judas’ remorse after the event probably shows that he then realised very well what he had done.

Twice in this passage Jesus asks: "Who are you looking for?" (18:4, 7). And both times he tells those who have come to arrest him: "I am he" (18:6, 8). You’re looking for me! There is clearly a deeper message here isn’t there? In John’s Gospel many people come to Jesus looking for something. Some of them find what they were looking for. Others decide that this is not the Jesus they expected to find. We don’t know what Judas was looking for but it seems clear that Jesus did not meet his expectations. Perhaps he wanted a political and military leader who would destroy the Romans with miracles, complete with Hollywood-style special FX? Many people did. Many people come to Jesus looking for something. But, as one perceptive writer has said: Jesus "does not set out to meet their expectations but rather to meet their need" (Ben Witherington). And so he surrendered himself knowing very well that he was going to his death. "Who are we looking for?"


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