Sin — turning away from God
Then one of the Twelve — the one called Judas Iscariot — went to the chief priests and asked, “What are you willing to give me if I deliver him over to you?” So they counted out for him thirty pieces of silver. From then on Judas watched for an opportunity to hand him over. (Matthew 26:14-16)
When we study the life of Judas we have to consider the great potential and opportunity that was lost due to a terrible tragedy. The terrible tragedy in the life of Judas is that he turned his back on Christ. He had the wonderful privilege of walking with Christ day after day. He had been a witness to the many miracles of our Lord and he would have heard most if not all of His teachings. Judas was trained to be an apostle by Jesus Himself and was taught about the consequence of sin by the Master Teacher.
Judas put his fate into the hands of the chief priests instead of putting his life into the hands of Christ. We have to ask why he would make such a foolish decision. The answer is because Judas had worldly ambition and greed in his heart. We know from the gospel of John (12:6) that Judas was embezzling the Lord’s funds. The gospel of John also tells us of how Judas was very disturbed at Mary for using perfume that could have been sold which would have provided more funds for him to embezzle.
Judas, I am sure, felt that wealth, power and position would be his when Christ set up his kingdom. He would have become disillusioned with Christ after the triumphal entry, because Christ did not immediately set up His kingdom as Judas expected it to be set up. The fact that Christ was not going to be the Messiah in the manner that Judas and the majority of the Israelites hoped for was becoming more and more apparent to Judas.
The religious leaders were also mobilizing against Christ and it would have seemed that they were going to be successful, especially to someone who was pessimistic and disillusioned. Judas’ dreams of wealth, power and prestige were shattered, so was his faith in Christ. In Judas’ self-centered mind, Christ was not the Messiah, at least not the Messiah that he was counting on and hoping for.
Judas made the choice to get what he can get out of the situation; worldly, monetary gain that we know does not last and lost out on eternity with Christ in heaven in the process. The choice could have only occurred in a heart that was lusting for more and more of what the world had to offer instead of being filled with Christ. His worldly ambition would have fooled him into thinking that he was now siding with the winning side when he made the deal with the chief priests. The devil blinded Judas and controlled his thoughts allowing for Judas to justify in his own mind the decision to betray Jesus.
The message that we get from the life of Judas is one that applies to all believers. The reality is there are far too many professing believers who turn their back on Christ because it is culturally acceptable. Seeking more and more of what the world has to offer without regard for God and His word. The world and the ungodly will always reward you for turning your back on Christ and the reward is normally much less than 30 pieces a silver.
So why would we want to sell out our Lord for the world and its recognition, to win an argument, to be one of the guys or simply to fit in? We are in the world but we are not of the world. How can we turn our back on Christ and preach the gospel of our favorite politicians or sing the praises of our favorite celebrity instead of preaching the gospel of Christ and sing the praises of His righteousness?
In these times we must remember the words of Paul, “It has always been my ambition to preach the gospel where Christ was not known, so that I would not be building on someone else’s foundation.” By this gospel we are saved. It should be the foundation of our life and all of our words, actions and deeds should flow from our devotion to our Lord and His message.
Paul reminds that “For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake.” We cannot allow ourselves to be swept up into the emotional wave of the ungodly world we live in. We can’t heat up and cool down when the media tells us that we should. We need to stay focused on Christ and Christ alone. We, if true believers, are nothing more and nothing less than humble servants of His kingdom who are called to share the gospel message and meet the needs of those in the world around us. The reality is and has always been that the greatest need that all people have is not our political or social commentary. Our greatest need is certainly not affirmation from the world. Our greatest need is a spiritual need; a right relationship with God, knowing Christ as our Lord and Savior.
The most wonderful part of the Judas story is that Jesus waited and gave Judas all the time that He possibly could to allow Judas the opportunity to repent. Christ loves us so much that he will receive us with open arms even after we have turned away from Him, even after we seek out the world and its approval instead of His righteousness and kingdom. All praise be to our Lord Jesus!
My prayer is that we “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16). I pray that our heart belongs to our Lord Jesus and Jesus alone and words, actions, and deeds provide an acceptable testimony to the presence and power of Christ for the non-believers of this world to witness.
In Jesus’s name pray.
(“From the Pulpit” is a weekly sermon provided by the clergy members of The Weirton Ministerial Association)