Love For and Shrewd Dealings With a Traitor (Mark 14:12-21)

Monday, January 5th, 2015
Sermon Series: Led to the Cross, Mark

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Love for, and Careful Dealings with, a Traitor

The Passover and the Traitor, from the gospel of Mark 14:12 to 21

 Have you ever considered their beginnings? Jesus–a rough beginning, born of scandalous circumstances in a manger in Bethlehem, while young he was forced to flee to Egypt to escape the wrath of Herod. Judas–born of a faithful religious family from Kerioth, his mother and father named him after the strongest and most honorable of the tribes, Judah. He wore that name with pride–maybe too much pride. He learned business savvy, cultivated a gift for numbers and fiscal conservatism.

Their two lives intersected in Galilee. Judas, a zealous nationalist, had been stirred by the ministry of John the Baptist, preaching repentance and preparation for the Christ. The land was abuzz with Messianic expectation. Then Jesus arose on the scene and no one could mistake Him. He virtually banished disease from the Capernaum region, and His popularity was swelling daily.

Judas grew closer, and as his curiosity peaked, Jesus looked at him one day and commanded, “Follow Me.” Judas was ambitious, zealous and enthralled. He was asked to join the inner circle of a powerful and overwhelmingly popular rabbi. “This has to be the Messiah.” His lifelong hope for freedom from the Romans was swelling on a wave of this omnipotent teacher and a mass of adoring fans.

Then one day during a particularly contentious series of events with the Jewish leaders, Jesus said something shocking. “Did I not Myself choose you, the twelve, and yet one of you is a devil?” What stinging words! One of the twelve is a devil? What could that mean? In his prideful self-righteousness, Judas was unconcerned that Jesus was addressing him. Jesus knew what no one else knew. Judas’ heart was inflamed with satanic ambitions.

His heart was bad, but it wasn’t obvious–it was hidden. So secret, Judas was actually trusted with great responsibility. The disciples shared a common purse. Judas was so well regarded, he was asked to be responsible for the finances. And all the while, Judas was pilfering funds. He witnessed Jesus walk on water, heal every disease that crossed His path, even delivering then restoring demoniacs to right thinking.

Judas listened to Jesus teach with amazing authority, raise Jairus’s daughter from the dead, repeatedly make the Pharisees look like fools by speaking to them with biblical wisdom. Then Judas witnessed Jesus raise Lazarus from the dead after being dead four days in the tomb. Judas was front and center for each undeniable miracle. Yet despite all the evidence, Judas’ initial favorable impression eroded. Judas’s plan for Jesus was not Jesus’ plan for Judas. Jesus was not giving Judas what he wanted–wealth, rule, fame, overthrowing the Romans, ease, comfort, authority and more.

So Judas began to take matters into his own hands. Frustration turned to greed, and greed to rage, then rage into treachery. What was the final straw? I think it was Mary, who lavishly poured 80-grand worth of perfume on Jesus in an act of worship. That was it–ridiculous. If you’re gonna waste all that cash, Mark 14:11, Judas went to the religious leaders, to betray Christ for money.

So now for a week Judas has been looking for his opportunity. Judas is waiting for Jesus to be alone, away from the crowds. And that opportunity is now upon him in Mark 14:12, when Jesus and His men will celebrate the Passover alone. But two things are happening behind the scenes that you must not miss.

ONE  Judas didn’t operate ALONE

Luke 22:3 says, “Then Satan entered Judas.” Not just demon possession, this is Satan-possessed. John 13:27 says, “Satan then entered into him.” Satan operated through unregenerate, unbelieving, greedy Judas. Satan fully possesses Judas. What was Satan trying to accomplish? Some say Satan wanted to kill Jesus–after all, Satan is a murderer. True.

But I don’t think Satan wanted Christ to go to the cross. Remember back in Matthew 16, Jesus says, “I am going to die.” And Peter responds and says, “No, Lord, you’re not going to die.” And Jesus replies to Peter what? “Get behind Me, Satan,” implying Satan wanted to keep Christ away from the cross, because Satan knew what the cross meant.

Satan knew all the Old Testament prophecies

Satan knew Christ was meant to be the Lamb of God slain for sins

Satan knew if Christ died on that cross that his kingdom and dominion would be destroyed forever

Satan didn’t want Jesus dead–God wanted Christ to die for our sins. Satan wanted to stop it. And if Satan can get Judas to betray Jesus so the Sanhedrin will move fast, then the crowd will rise up and stop the crucifixion. I believe that’s what Satan wanted–he had no desire to see Christ on the cross.

Perhaps Satan was moving Judas to betray Jesus to start a riot. Then the crowds would prevent the murder of Jesus. Satan is against the cross. It’s as if Satan wants to create a scenario which will halt the direction of Christ to the cross. So Satan moves into Judas. But even bigger, behind this event is . . .

TWO  The Cross is the PLAN of God

The power behind the scenes is none other than God the Father, who is orchestrating every detail of the death of Christ. God is bringing this event about, exactly according to His plan. Acts 2:23 declares the cross is the predetermined plan of God. Jesus’ death was not an accident–it wasn’t a revolution gone bad, the cross was not a failed idea–the cross was a divine plan.

God’s plan was that in AD 30, Nisan 14, on the Passover on Friday at three o’clock in the afternoon, when all the Passover lambs were beginning to be slaughtered, the true Passover Lamb, the final sufficient offering, Jesus Christ, will die. And Jesus did die at 3 o’clock on that Friday at that Passover. It happened exactly the moment the religious leaders didn’t want to have to kill Him. That was the last moment they would have wanted to murder Christ, but that was God’s predetermined time–and frankly, they’re not in charge. Neither is Satan.

It’s crucial for you to see this, because all the way through these final moments you will see God work–the unseen hand of God will be seen in every single detail. In Mark 14:11, since Christ hit town, the wicked Jews and the worried Romans are eager to neutralize this burgeoning threat from Galilee. Judas would use their hatred of Christ to his economic advantage. He stole away from the eleven to meet secretly with the chief priests, in order to obtain the price of blood. So on Wednesday night, Judas makes arrangements to betray Christ for 30 silver coins–a few hundred dollars for the life of the perfect, righteous, holy, loving, truthful God-man.

Now verse 12, it’s Thursday of the Passion Week. Preparations are necessary for the Passover. The Passover meal needed to be prepared, a room obtained, furniture arranged, take the lamb to the Temple, get the unleavened bread, bitter herbs and wine, and make the sauces, and more.

Later Thursday night (and as we continue in Mark 14 and 15) Gethsemane, the betrayal of Judas, the trial before the Sanhedrin, and Peter’s denial. Then on Friday morning, chapter 15, Jesus before Pilate, condemned to death, then crucified. Finally in the afternoon Christ dies, then in the late afternoon Christ is buried. And all of 14:17 to 15:47 takes place on the 15th of Nisan (between 6 pm Thursday and 6 pm Friday). So on the heels of Mary’s 80-grand expenditure of worship, and Judas’s agreement to betray Christ for money, it is time for . . .

#1  The Providential Preparation for the Passover  Verses 12 to 16

The Feast of unleavened bread and the day of Passover combined, to make an eight-day celebration, which begins with a Passover meal on Thursday night. These two celebrations were so closely connected that in the minds of the Jews, they were one and the same. Passover was considered the holiest festival of the Jewish year, commemorating the deliverance from Egypt when the angel of death “passed over” the firstborn found in Jewish homes because of the Passover lamb blood placed on the door frames. The disciples recognize their duty to prepare the Passover, giving us . . .

First  The Setting for the Passover

Verse 12, “On the first day of Unleavened Bread, when the Passover lamb was being sacrificed, His disciples said to Him, ‘Where do You want us to go and prepare for You to eat the Passover?’” The first day means it’s Thursday before the Passover, so it’s time for the Passover meal. So the disciples ask Jesus, “Where should we go? Where do You want us to have the meal?” They are all without a home, “So where should we do this?”

The Lord has a plan. There has to be a Passover on Thursday night–the Lord knows that. Jerusalem is crowded. They need a private room where twelve of them plus Jesus can go. I think this is something Judas was eagerly waiting for, because this would be a perfect time to have Jesus arrested. Why? It’s night, it’s a private room, it’s only the twelve plus Jesus. No one is on the streets that late at night. It’s a fixed, specific location–therefore easy to tell the leaders where to get Jesus. It’d be simple to let them in, then easy for Judas to get his cash.

But our Lord knows Judas’s thoughts. So in verse 12 when they asked the question, “Where do You want us to go? Where are we going to have this?” Judas is listening. Once he knows where they’re going to have it, it’s over. It’s just too good to pass up. He’s been waiting since Saturday–Judas wants to get this over with so he can get his money and go. Judas had a fear of the crowd, so this was a way to avoid the crowds, take Jesus at night in a small group, in a confined area. But this is where you observe . . .

Second  The Shrewdness of Christ  Verses 13 to 15

And He sent two of His disciples and said to them, ‘Go into the city, and a man will meet you carrying a pitcher of water; follow him; 14 and wherever he enters, say to the owner of the house, ‘The Teacher says, ‘Where is My guest room in which I may eat the Passover with My disciples?” 15 And he himself will show you a large upper room furnished and ready; prepare for us there.”

It’s incredible just how shrewd Christ is. Along with being all-knowing, sovereign, and all-wise, Christ carefully makes certain Judas cannot have him arrested during the Passover meal. The Lord must have the Passover with His disciples–why?

1  He will transform the Passover into the Lord’s Table

2  He has important and intimate teaching to give them found in John 14 to 17, which actually makes up His last will and testament

3  The sovereign timing of His suffering and coming death requires Christ be arrested later Thursday night, and not early during the meal

4  Christ must fulfill all righteousness, and therefore must celebrate the Passover commanded by God, because it has not been negated and won’t be done away with until this Passover is finished

5  This celebration will become the most important meal ever eaten in history, since it’ll identify our Lord as the very Lamb of God. Christ will end the old system

So verse 13 shows us the wisdom of Christ, and the providence of God over every single tiny detail. This is how Christ did it. “And He sent two of His disciples.” The gospel of Luke 22:8 tells us Jesus is sending His two most intimate confidants and trusted friends, Peter and John.

Continuing in verse 13, “and said to them, ‘Go into the city, and a man will meet you carrying a pitcher of water; follow him.’” Now that’s sneaky–go to Jerusalem where the feast must take place, and first look for a man. The man is never identified, but he is carrying a pitcher of water, which is woman’s work. A man carrying a pitcher of water would be rather unusual. But that’s what they need–they needed a unique sign, a clear indicator. Go find a man carrying a pitcher of water and follow him.

Verse 14, “and wherever he enters,” go where he goes. And that’s exactly what they did. “Wherever he enters, say to the owner of the house, ‘The Teacher says, “Where is My guest room in which I may eat the Passover with My disciples?” ’ What does that tell you? Simply, the owner is familiar with Jesus. Mr. Water Jug leads them to a house–now we’re finished with Mr. Pitcher. They follow Water Bottle into a house, and it’s the owner of the house who knows Jesus, knows Him as The Teacher.

This is better than a spy novel, because they don’t even say the name Jesus, just in case someone might be listening nearby. They don’t want anyone to know where this event is going to be. Just follow Jughead, the man with a pitcher on his head–that will lead you to a house, and the owner will know The Teacher. Talk about insightful, discerning, clever, shrewd and wise.

All this indicates our Lord had prearranged this meeting place. He either preplanned it, actually or supernaturally–set up the details. When you meet the owner of the house, say this (verse 14), “The Teacher says, Where is My guest room in which I may eat the Passover with My disciples?”

The owner has got to be a believer. The Greek term, “Teacher,” with the article, “The”, “The Teacher” identifies someone whom the owner knew, loved and believed. So follow Water Pitcher to the Owner and the result, verse 15, “And he himself will show you a large upper room furnished and ready; prepare for us there.”

An “upper room” was located upstairs. This is the famous “upper room” where Jesus would celebrate the Passover, where he’d institute the Lord’s Supper, deliver all the teaching of John 14 to 16, and pour out His heart in His high priestly prayer in John 17. When you go to Jerusalem today, you can go to an upper room that might look like the one they used–but the true upper room is thirty feet below it, lost in the rubble of the city’s Roman destruction.

And notice the extra bonus of the room provided. Verse 15 says it’ll be furnished with furniture–rugs, carpets and lounging pillows, and a low-standing table that would be used to serve from. It would look nothing like DaVinci’s “Last Supper”—nothing. Again why all the secrecy, mystery, intrigue? Why not just say, “Hey guys, we’re all going to meet at Richie’s on Hot Springs between the freeways at 5 pm–they have a room ready for us”? That’s easy, simple, recognizable–and they have room for us all.

But Christ can’t do that–why? Because Judas will know, and a Passover feast location avoids the crowds, it’s at night, and it is a certain enclosed location–perfect for a capture. Plus John 11:57 tells us the chief priests and the Pharisees had given orders that if anyone knew where He was he was to report it, so that they might seize Him. So with the leaders searching, and with Judas looking for a textbook place to snatch Christ, the Lord had to be shrewd. And Christ does it.

Third  The Success of Jesus and His Disciples  Verse 16

The disciples went out and came to the city, and found it just as He had told them; and they prepared the Passover.” The entire cloak and dagger went off exactly as Jesus arranged–probably a combination of pre-preparation and divine providence. Verse 16 seems to indicate that Peter and John can cook–it says they prepared the Passover.

And it seems Peter and John never came back. On this Thursday they followed Jughead, got to the house, were shown the room and made the preparations. The rest of the disciples apparently left Bethany later, traveled to Jerusalem, then found the room prepared for them. Apparently they didn’t know where they were going until they got there. By the time they got there, Judas couldn’t leave nor report where they were, or he’d be exposed as the traitor. The Lord covers every single detail, because of the urgency and importance of His time with His men. Jesus is in control, even over . . .

#2  The Painful Prediction of the Betrayal of Judas  Verses 17 to 21

Directly under the sovereign control of God, according to God’s perfect plan and amazing timing, Jesus will now announce to His men—“there is a traitor in our midst.” Imagine being married to a loving spouse, but after three years, you’re told with certainty they’ve been unfaithful the entire time. This is an emotional moment for Christ and His faithful men–and it’s so significant, all four gospels describe it. In the midst of the Passover feast we hear,

First  The Statement there is a Betrayer  Verses 17 to 18

When it was evening He came with the twelve.” Jesus arrives with the twelve, and now they’re all in one room. Verse 18, “As they were reclining at the table and eating.” What are they doing? Commentator William Barclay describes it, “Peter or John had gone to the Temple and slew their lamb. This occurred Thursday afternoon for those who lived in the north, like the disciples; and occurred on Friday for those who lived in the south.”

In the Temple, there were two long lines of priests, each with a gold or silver bowl. As the lamb’s throat was slit, the blood was caught in one of these bowls, and passed up the line, until the priest at the end of the line dashed the blood upon the altar. The carcass was then flayed, the entrails and fat extracted, because they were part of the sacrifice. Then the carcass was handed back to the worshipper.

If history is correct, a quarter of a million lambs were slain. Can you picture how bloody the temple area was? The lamb was then carried home to be roasted. It had to be roasted over an open fire, on a spit made of pomegranate wood. The spit went right through the lamb from mouth to vent, and the lamb had to be roasted entirely, with head, legs and tail still attached to the body.

The table they used was shaped like a square with one side open. It was low, and the guests reclined on couches/pillows, resting on their left arms with their right arms free for eating. Reclining is also part of the Passover reenactment, because the meal celebrates Israel’s freedom, and only free people have the luxury of reclining at table (Exodus 12:11).

What did John and Peter prepare for the men, or have prepared?

1)  There was the lamb, reminding them of how their houses were protected by application of blood when the angel of death passed over through Egypt

2)  There was the unleavened bread to remind them of the bread they ate in haste when they escaped from slavery

3)  There was a bowl of salt water to remind them of the tears they shed in Egypt, and of the waters of the Red Sea, through which they had miraculously passed to safety

4)  There was a collection of bitter herbs–horseradish, chicory, endive, etc.–to remind them of the bitterness of slavery in Egypt

5)  There was a paste called charoseth, a mixture of apples, dates, pomegranates and nuts–to remind them of the clay used to make bricks in Egypt. In it there were sticks of cinnamon–to remind them of the straw with which the bricks had been made

6)  There were four cups of water-wine, which were drunk at different stages of the meal—to remind them of the four promises God made to Israel in Exodus 6:6 and 7, “Say … to the sons of Israel, ‘I am the Lord, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will deliver you from their bondage. I will also redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments. 7 ‘Then I will take you for My people, and I will be your God; and you shall know that I am the Lord your God, who brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians.”

Kent Hughes says it was sometime after 6 pm when they began. From John 13, it seems certain the seating from left to right was, in part, Judas, Jesus, and John. Reclining on the left elbow, as was customary, put Jesus’ head at Judas’ chest, and John’s head at Jesus’ feet. Picture what is happening in the room–as they began they would . . .

1)  drink the first cup with its blessing

2)  then eat some bitter herbs to recall the bitter life in Egypt

3)  then eat some unleavened bread, charoseth, and roasted lamb

4)  the father/leader would then dip the bitter herbs into the charoseth with a benediction, then eat with the others to follow

5)  then he’d drink a second cup of wine mixed with water, with a son or a disciple asking the father to explain the feast

6)  after this, they sang from Psalm 113 and 114, and a third cup of water wine is drunk with a prayer of praise

7)  the father then ceremonially washed his hands, took two cakes of bread, broke one and laid it on the unbroken one, blessed the bread, wrapped a broken piece of bread with herbs, dipped it into the charoseth, eat it, then eat a piece of the lamb–then at this point . . .

8)  all join in eating, in a more relaxed manner, and it’s here at this point when Mark tells us the Lord tells them about Judas

To conclude the meal, the leader eats the last morsel of the lamb, a fourth cup of water-wine is drunk, they sing from Psalm 115 to 137. Got the picture of what is happening? In the midst of their casual eating, Jesus rocked their world in verse 18, “Jesus said, ‘Truly I say to you that one of you will betray Me—one who is eating with Me.’”

Jesus was “troubled in spirit”, and unleashed a bombshell. This is a lightning bolt. Even though He’d predicted His coming death, the Lord had not identified a betrayer from their own ranks. It was a horrifying announcement, especially with Jesus saying, “one who is eating with me,” an allusion to Psalm 41:9 which speaks of the infamous treachery of Ahithophel, who betrayed King David. “There is an Ahithophel among us, one who is actually eating bread here, who acts as if he is a friend, but is really a traitor.”

The disciples were aghast. They suspected no one, and especially not Judas. There is nothing more demoralizing than betrayal from inside the ranks. Can you see their faces? Shock, fear, and hurt–a crushing blow. And think about Judas–he’s still pretending. All he had to do is master a few buzzwords with the correct inflections in the right place, and he could fool the elect and was still doing it. Erase the portraits you’ve seen of the Last Supper, because none of them show the horror on their faces they’re displaying here.

Second  The Sorrow of the Disciples  Verse 19

Jesus knew who was going to betray Him, and that the traitor would succeed. Our Lord was hardly a doll caught in the crush of history. John tells us in John 13:22, “The disciples began looking at one another, at a loss to know of which one He was speaking.” No one suspected Judas, and as our text says, in verse 19, “They began to be grieved and to say to Him one by one, ‘Surely not I?’”

“I thought we had each other’s back–not to stab each other in the back. Judas, ever cool, mouthed the same words, Matthew 26:25. “And Judas, who was betraying Him, said, ‘Surely it is not I, Rabbi?’ Jesus said to him, ‘You have said it yourself.’” Judas fooled everyone–except Jesus. These are cold, calculated lies. Judas bluffs by mimicking the disciples’ answers in a fake loyalty. Jesus responded, “You have said it yourself,” affirming that Judas just condemned himself.

All Jesus would’ve had to do was to point at Judas and shout, “Traitor!” and Peter would have had him in a chokehold in a second. Or worse, Peter will soon start swinging a sword at Christ’s enemies. But because our Lord doesn’t identify the traitor, the ambiguity provokes a soul-searching. They began to be grieved and to say to Jesus, one by one, “Surely not I?”

The redeemed heart knows how deceitful sin is, so in their hurt, one by one they say, verse 19, “It can’t be me, surely not me.” The disciples have been hit by the betrayal bus–they’re in shock. Plus, it’s easier to forgive an enemy than to forgive a friend. So who is it, Jesus?

Third  The Selecting of Christ  Verse 20

And He said to them, ‘It is one of the twelve, one who dips with Me in the bowl.’” They’re probably thinking, “Thanks a lot, Lord,” not helpful–we’re all dipping into the bowl. But our Master is in control. In fact, despite Judas’s hypocrisy, Jesus was reaching out to Judas. When Jesus washed the disciples’ feet, He also washed Judas’s feet.

Plus, while washing feet, Jesus said in John 13:10 to 11, “’He who has bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean; and you are clean, but not all of you.’ 11 For He knew the one who was betraying Him; for this reason He said, ‘Not all of you are clean.’” In a sense, Jesus was saying, “Judas, old friend, you’re not clean.” The Lord was making a loving appeal to Judas.

Then when Jesus alluded to Psalm 41 about Ahithophel, the traitor who hung himself, Jesus was saying, “Judas, my friend, why not give up? Think of what happened to Ahithophel.” We know Judas did ultimately hang himself, just like Ahithophel before him.

Even the seating arrangement demonstrated Jesus’ love. He had given Judas an honored seat to His left, so that Jesus’ head was just inches away from Judas’ heart, so Judas could converse with Jesus without anyone hearing–a perfect opportunity to repent. And lastly, Jesus reached out to Judas at the very end. In John 13:23 to 26, Peter asked John to ask Jesus who the betrayer was. John only had to turn his head and whisper, “Who is it?” Jesus answered, “It is the one to whom I will give this piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish.”  Then dipping the piece of bread, he gave it to Judas Iscariot.

You don’t know this, but that action is an expression of love. In the culture of the day, to take a morsel from the table, dip it in the common dish and offer it to another is a gesture of friendship. When Boaz invited Ruth to fellowship with him in Ruth 2:14, he said, “Come over here. Have some bread and dip it in the wine vinegar.” Jesus was reaching out to Judas. Quietly, intimately, Jesus was saying in effect, “Judas, here is my friendship and forgiveness. All you have to do is take it, my old friend. Will you?”

I lay awake at night thinking about who Jesus might be reaching out to here at FBC. But Judas took the bread without repentance. And to share a meal like this in cold-blooded hypocrisy, and betray a friend, is treason. To betray one with whom you’ve shared bread was unthinkable. So John tells us in John 13:27, “After the morsel, Satan then entered into him.” Then Jesus said to Judas, “What you do, do quickly.” It is now midnight for Judas’ soul.

Fourth  The Sentence of Christ  Verse 21

For the Son of Man is to go just as it is written of Him.” Jesus views His betrayal in God’s sovereign plan by saying, “the Son of Man is to go.” Jesus is in sovereign control. And all of this will happen, “just as it is written of Him.” I love this–Jesus again reminds His men, this is all in the Scripture. The Bible has already told you what will happen to Me in detail.

“Men, trust your Bibles . . .” Jesus says it before His death here, and after His resurrection in Luke 24:26 to 27, “’Was it not necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and to enter into His glory?’ 27 Then beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures.” This was all predicted in the Old Testament.

In the clear Gospel message, Christ’s death and resurrection are continually affirmed as scriptural, 1 Corinthians 15:3 to 4, “For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.” Jesus was not a victim taken by scheming, but rather the cross is the purpose of God securing your salvation through the death of His Beloved Son.

Yet remember–nowhere does God’s predetermined plan cancel out or minimize human responsibility. Finish verse 21 of Mark 14, “but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed. It would have been good for that man if he had not been born.” Jesus will go to the cross to fulfill God’s determined blueprint, but Judas is not exonerated from his treachery.

It’s not unusual to hear people expressing sympathy for Judas. They feel he was given an unfair deal and has had unfair press ever since. “After all,” they say, “if Jesus had to die, somebody had to betray him. So why blame Judas? Judas was but the tool of providence.” The Bible clearly indicates, Jesus foreknew the identity of his betrayer. But the fact that this sinful act was used by God does not justify Judas, making evil somehow good. God sovereignly turned evil to accomplish His own righteous purposes, but in no way does that make sin any less sinful, nor does it make the sinner any less guilty.

In the betrayal and death of Christ, our God fuses divine sovereignty and human responsibility. Divine sovereignty does not cancel out human responsibility. God uses sinful men to accomplish His will, but never excuses sin. The cross was God’s predetermined plan–Acts 2:23, “This Man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death.” Judas was and is responsible for his deceit, greed, and betrayal.

And verse 21 adds Judas’s future in Hell was so terrifying that he’d have been infinitely better off if “he had not been born”. Friends, you’re responsible for your sin and your only hope is to cry out for mercy from Jesus Christ so that He might be your substitute, taking your sin upon Himself on the cross. If you’re His child, then Jesus took responsibility for your sin. Colossians 2:13 to 14, “When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.” What a Savior we have.

1  JUDAS saw it all–how about you?

The saddest thing about Judas? He was one of the twelve–24/7 for three years he lived with God in a body. Yet he turned out like this? The man with the greatest privilege and weightiest opportunity, yet he committed the most heinous crime. Judas lived in Christ’s glorious presence experiencing His truth, beauty, power, wisdom and fellowship daily, yet he dissed it. Judas is the greatest example of wasted opportunity. What privileges, opportunities, has God given you, Christian, that you, too, might be wasting?

2  Do you daily treasure the CROSS?

The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ have always been the focal point of Christianity. The cross is the apex of redemptive history, the sufficient single atonement for sin, the satisfaction of divine justice, the propitiation of holy wrath, the epitome of sovereign grace, the necessary object of saving faith and the only hope for eternal life. The cross is so important, Paul says things like 1 Corinthians 2:2, “For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.” Are you daily remembering His Love for you? That God would become a man and die for you must be on your heart every day.

3  God is sovereign over your life details

It didn’t matter what Judas did, or the religious leaders, or the Romans–no, it will be God who moves Christ to the cross to die on Friday at 3 pm exactly. No matter what people say or do, God’s will will be done in your life. Do not think for moment that whoever or whatever is against you, hurting you, causing you pain is not under the absolute sovereign hand of God? Trust Him with little things and all things.

4  Jesus was willing to CONDESCEND, are you?

He entered Jerusalem on a borrowed animal. Borrowed lodgings from friends in Bethany. Borrowed a room for Passover, borrowed a Roman cross for a few hours and borrowed a grave–while He actually, literally, truly owns everything. If He’d do that for you, do you think you can condescend to help, give, sacrifice, meet a need, or serve someone lesser?

5  Will you TURN to Christ?

Jesus gave Judas every opportunity to turn to Him in salvation. But Judas wanted his money, his way–are you the same? Or on this day, will you cry out for mercy, turn from your sin and depend on Christ alone? Some of you students have to stop sitting on the fence. Some of you need to take a hard look at your heart. All true Christians follow Christ and want to obey His Word. Do not leave here not knowing where you are at with Christ.

Your way is slavery, Christ is freedom

Your way is guilt and lies, Christ is forgiveness and truth

Your way is Hell in torment, Christ is Heaven in joy

Stop being a sap for the enemy, and surrender to Christ. Let’s pray.

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ABOUT THIS PREACHER

Chris is the teaching pastor at Faith Bible Church - Murrieta.
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