Hey everybody, you're listening to A New Beginning, which is a podcast made possible by Harvest Partners.
If this program has impacted you, I'd love to hear from you. So just send an email to me at greg.harvest.org. Again, it's greg.harvest.org.
You can learn more about becoming a Harvest Partner by going to harvest.org. How is it that some respond to the Gospel and others don't? Today on A New Beginning, Pastor Greg Laurie points out something from the New Testament. Here's Judas exposed to all the miracles, all the teachings, the perfect example of Christ, and while the others were having their lives changed, his heart was getting darker and harder, reminding us of the truth of the statement, the same sun that softens the wax hardens the clay.
It's on you because you choose how you will react. We are all faced with decisions every single day. The most important decision is whether we choose the narrow path that leads to righteousness or the wide path that leads to destruction. And today on A New Beginning, Pastor Greg Laurie points out that two people can be exposed to the same truth, the same wisdom, given the same choice, and each make opposite decisions. It's a look at man's free will and the strong pull of sin. Today's study is based in the Gospel of John.
The title of my message is, Why Does God Allow Evil? Grab your Bible and turn to John chapter 13. This man that we're going to look at committed the worst crime imaginable. He betrayed and sold out Jesus and he had a hand in the cold-blooded murder of the very Son of God. I'm talking about Judas Iscariot.
And it's hard to believe that a man could do such a horrible thing. Yet, as we will discover, out of this act of pure evil, the greatest good came for all of humanity. Because though Judas betrayed Christ, we'll tell you why in a few moments, but his heart was evil and Satan entered his heart and there was greed involved. But though he betrayed Christ and it was his desire to stop the ministry of Jesus, in fact he helped to fulfill the ministry of Jesus because Jesus had come expressly to this earth to voluntarily die on the cross for the sin of the world. So Judas didn't realize he was helping to fulfill God's plan, but indeed he was.
But his very name is synonymous with evil and treachery. Judas is the traitor's traitor. And his life ended miserably in suicide because he sold out Jesus for 30 pieces of silver. So let's read from John 13. I'm reading verses one to nine.
And by the way, I'm reading from the New Living Translation. Before the Passover celebration, Jesus knew that his hour had come to leave this world and return to his father. He had loved his disciples during his ministry on earth and now he loved them to the very end.
It was time for supper and the devil had already prompted Judas, son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. Jesus knew that the father had given him authority over everything and that he had come from God and would return to God. He got up from the table, took off his robe, wrapped a towel around his waist, and poured water into a basin. Then he began to wash the disciples' feet, drying them with the towel he had around them. And when Jesus came to Simon Peter, he said to him, Lord, are you going to wash my feet? Jesus replied, you don't understand what I'm doing, but someday you will. No, Peter protested, you will never, ever wash my feet. Jesus said, unless I wash you, you won't belong to me. Then Peter exclaimed, then wash my hands and head as well, not just my feet.
Okay, we'll stop there. Verse one, what a powerful opening verse. Before the Passover celebration, Jesus knowing his hour had come to leave this world to return to his father, he loved his disciples during his ministry on earth and now he loves them to the very end. With Calvary closing in and all the pressure it brought, this is such a touching picture of Christ. He's down on his hands and knees washing their feet, loving them to the end. The disciples were alone with Jesus this night.
The crowds are not present. And this is the Last Supper. Here's the problem. When we think of the Last Supper, we think of the painting by Leonardo da Vinci, the great painter.
Erase that idea from your mind. That's not the way it looked. It would have been a low slung table. They would have been sitting on pillows, probably reclining and maybe in sort of a semi-circular fashion. And they would have various bits of bread that they would dip in various kinds of sauces, sort of like chips and salsa, if you will. That's actually what it was like.
And so it's a very casual thing. They would eat olives. They would eat dates.
They would eat bits of fish and so forth. And that's what a meal would look like. And a meal was long. It was leisurely. It wasn't formal with cutlery in front of you. You know, that's what you call it if you're from England, cutlery.
And no, it was very casual and relaxed. And you would eat with your hands. You would share the food. So this is what a meal looked like. And this is what the Last Supper actually looked like. And Jesus now does something that shocks everyone. He gets out a basin of water and starts to wash their feet. Now this, by the way, was done customarily by the servant of the house. So when you would walk in wearing your sandals or whatever and you had all the dirt and dust all over your feet, the servant would come and wash your feet before you came into the house.
But who is doing this? Not a servant, but Jesus himself washing their feet. But why would Jesus even do this to start with? Well, he was demonstrating what he taught. He said, if you want to be greatest in the kingdom of God, learn to be the servant of all. So he's showing them what it means to love one another. But yet in Luke's gospel account of this story, an argument broke out as to who would be greatest in his kingdom.
Can you see it? Here is this very heavy night. It is going to be the last meal he ever has with his disciples.
He is washing their feet. They can see the Lord is under stress. But they think that would be a good time to argue about who will be greatest in the kingdom.
Just like little kids, aren't they? And so that is what the backdrop is against this story. They were missing the point. But now we go to verse 21 of John 13. Now Jesus was deeply troubled.
And he exclaimed, I tell you the truth, one of you will betray me. The disciples looked at one another, wondering whom he could mean. And the disciple Jesus loved was sitting next to Jesus at the table. By the way, that is John. John describes himself in his gospel as the disciple that Jesus loved.
I like that, by the way. That might sound boastful, oh the disciple Jesus loved. No, it would be boastful if he said the disciple that loved Jesus. He didn't boast of his love for Jesus. He boasted of Jesus' love for him.
And you know what? You are the disciple Jesus loves too. He loves you. Just like he loved John. So the disciple whom Jesus loved was sitting next to him. And Simon Peter mentioned to him, what is he talking about?
I love that. What is he talking about? What does this even mean? So that disciple leaned over to Jesus and said, Lord who is it? Jesus responded, it is the one to whom I give the bread I dip in the bowl. And when he had dipped it he gave it to Judas son of Simon Iscariot. And when Judas had eaten the bread, underline this, Satan entered him. When he had eaten the bread Satan entered him. Jesus told him, hurry up and do what you are going to do. None of the others at the table knew what Jesus meant. Since Judas was their treasurer some thought Jesus was telling them to go and pay for the food or give money away to the poor. So Judas left at once going out into the night. We will stop there.
We will talk about dropping a bombshell. Look at verse 21 again. Jesus was deeply troubled and he exclaimed, I tell you the truth one of you will betray me. The word that is used here for trouble is interesting. It is the same word to describe Jesus standing at the grave of Lazarus and weeping.
He was troubled by that scene. It is also the same term used in John 12 27 as he thought about the coming dread of the cross when he said, my heart is troubled. See Jesus was always the one who was the stable person to look to in the midst of a crisis. He was always the one that had the answer. He was always the one that had the calm in the midst of the storm. So when Jesus was troubled that caused everyone to be alarmed. You ever heard the expression, if mama ain't happy ain't nobody happy.
You know. And if Jesus is troubled everyone is a bit unnerved. Because if it unnerves Jesus what does that mean to us? Well why was Jesus troubled? Well he was troubled because of what was about to happen.
He wasn't troubled for himself. He was troubled for another. Believe it or not he was troubled over the soul of the one who was about to betray him. The disciples did not know Judas was the man yet. Christ did not.
I deed him. But Jesus knew and they understood now that there's a traitor in their midst. And it's interesting when he says, one of you is going to betray me. They all say to a man, is it me? If Judas was as obvious as we think they all would have stood up in unison and pointed to him and said, it's Judas isn't it?
The guy in the black the guy in the black leather robe. We always knew it was him. And he had that evil goatee he grew out and laughed like. You know we knew it was him.
No that wasn't. No one thought of Judas. They thought of themselves.
Could it be me? And now Jesus responds in verse 26. It's the one I give the bread to that I'm dipping in the bowl. And he dipped it and gave it to Judas son of Simon Iscariot. By the way Judas was sitting at the left hand of Jesus which in this culture was the place of honor. The Lord probably asked Judas to sit in the place of honor that night and probably blew Judas's mind a little bit. Because he knew what he was about to do. And Jesus says here Judas come up here sit right next to me.
Place of honor. Does he know what I'm about to do? Oh yeah he knew what you're going to do for sure. And but what was Jesus doing? He was offering love to Judas. Here's effectively what he was communicating.
I know what you're about to do and I still love you and it breaks my heart and you don't have to do it. See Judas had a free will. He could have exercised but he chose evil.
He could have just as easily turned away. Christ would have forgiven him up to the last moment. In fact later in the garden of Gethsemane before Jesus has been arrested Judas comes with the temple guard in tow to apprehend him and Jesus says friend why have you come? Friend? Excuse me that's Judas. You already ID'd him as your betrayer.
But Jesus was offering to Judas one last chance to repent. Pastor Greg Laurie will have the second half of his message in just a moment. Emails, letters and phone calls from listeners are so encouraging to us and they let us know the effectiveness of these studies. Pastor Greg this letter has been a long time coming. In 2017 my husband and I lost our three year old son to a sudden onset sickness.
We began asking questions and no answers seemed to be found. One evening I was watching tv and came across your message. I was about to change the channel but something compelled me to watch. You were giving your testimony. The more I watched the angrier I became thinking oh great another pastor with a perfect faith in life what does he know? At that moment you began to share about the passing of your son Christopher. Your testimony saved my life because for so long I thought I deserved what had happened to our son because of my disobedience to God's word. But hearing your testimony for God made me realize that God doesn't waste our pain. Then and there I set my heart on seeking God. I started listening to your podcasts and devotions and wouldn't you know it you were in a series called hope for hurting hearts. I know it was the leading of the Holy Spirit for me to tune in. Thank God for that moment. His perfect timing grace and love and thank you Pastor Greg. You have done more than you realize. We're so blessed to hear how Pastor Greg's messages have comforted this woman.
Would you like to share a personal story with us? If so drop Pastor Greg an email and let him know. Send it to greg at harvest dot org. That's greg at harvest dot o-r-g. o-r-g. And now Pastor Greg continues our look at the betrayal by Judas from John chapter 13. Jesus would have forgiven Judas Iscariot if he had repented right there on the spot. But that is not what Judas was about to do. And apparently Judas now passed the point of no return because look at verse 27.
When he ate the bread Satan entered him. Those are ominous words. We read in the gospels about people being possessed by demons.
You know what? Demon possession is real. Demons are real. Demons are powerful. But the good news is is when you become a Christian you're under divine protection and no demon can possess you. Demons can tempt you. Demons can harass you.
They can attack you. But they cannot possess you. It is only the non-believer that can be possessed by a demon. And when Christ lives inside of us there can be no demons. Jesus is not into a time share program. When he enters your heart he's a sole occupant.
Okay. But here's Judas. He wasn't demon possessed. He was Lucifer possessed. The big guy himself Satan entered his heart which helps us understand he's on another level of evil. And I bring this up because sometimes people want to paint Judas as a victim.
Poor guy. He was just a pawn in the hand of God. And you know God knew that Jesus would die on the cross and someone had to bring it about so God just made Judas do this. He had no choice.
Nonsense. He had plenty of choice. And he was handpicked by Jesus and he was loved by Jesus but he made this horrible choice. In fact the only person who would ever equal Judas in wickedness would probably be the antichrist himself.
Antichrist is sort of like the son of the devil. And Judas is pretty much the same thing. But here is a clear pattern of the deception of sin even to the most knowledgeable of people. It's worth noting that Judas was so effective in his lie and so cunning and so skillful an actor no one even suspected him until Jesus made it clear he was the one. As I said earlier Judas fooled everyone but Jesus.
Know this. You can fool all of the people some of the time. You can fool some of the people all of the time. But you can't fool God any of the time. So Jesus had Judas's number.
He knew what was going on. But it's really incomprehensible that a man with such opportunity could so squander it. I mean think about Judas for a moment. Judas is scarier. And I don't know why but whenever I have his name in one of my Word documents and I go through spell check they always want to take his last name Iscariot and turn it into Escargot.
Who knows why. So maybe that's the French Judas right. Judas Escargot.
Snails with garlic. So Judas Iscariot. He spent every waking hour walking and talking with God incarnate.
What a privilege that was. I mean sometimes non-believers will say well the reason I'm not a Christian is because there's hypocrites in the church. And by the way I don't buy that. I think that's an excuse not a reason. And to sort of illustrate that do you think Jesus was ever a hypocrite?
Do you? No he never was. Jesus was literally perfect. Jesus never lost his temper.
Now he was angry when he drove the people out of the temple but that was righteous indignation. Jesus never said an unkind thing. Jesus never told a lie. Jesus never had a single thought out of harmony with the Father. In fact Jesus said I always do the things that please the Father.
And I couldn't say that could you? But Jesus could. He was the perfect example. Yet not only did Judas not believe but he turned against Christ selling him out for 30 pieces of silver. And he was one of the original 12. Listen Judas Iscariot heard with his own ears the Sermon on the Mount. Judas Iscariot saw Lazarus resurrected from the dead. Judas Iscariot saw Jesus walking on the water. Judas Iscariot saw the feeding of the five thousand with the loaves and the fishes. And Judas Iscariot also heard the teaching of the Lord when he talked about the wheat and the tares together and how the tares look like the wheat but they are not the wheat and they uproot the wheat and they are imitations of the wheat. And that would have certainly applied to him. But instead of turning to God he became filled with anger and jealousy and bitterness. So here is Judas exposed to all the miracles, all the teachings, the perfect example of Christ. And while the others were having their lives changed his heart was getting darker and harder reminding us of the truth of the statement. The same sun that softens the wax hardens the clay.
The same sun that makes the living tree grow dries up the dead tree. And the same gospel message that transforms one drives another into sin. I can't explain it. But you can have two people sitting in a pew or in seats next to each other. One hears the gospel.
They believe their life has changed. The other folds their arms. Says it doesn't make you nervous you are folding your arms. You are though. You are. But it is ok. You are probably cold.
There is a lot of air conditioning here. But all the people folding their arms are like. But you know the person who is not responsive. I don't mean you. I know you are responsive. But you are sitting up close.
Right? That says it all. Now the people in the back. Those who are folding their arms even worse.
No but seriously one can hear it. It changes their life. Another hears it and they get harder in their sin. It is kind of an amazing thing actually.
And truthfully that is all on you. It is not on the gospel. The gospel is true. It is not on the Bible. The Bible is alive and powerful. It is not on God.
It is on you. Because you choose how you will react. You choose what kind of soil your heart is. You choose it to be receptive soil to the seed of God's Word. Or you choose to have soil like concrete to God's Word.
It is all up to you. So that was Judas exposed to the truth. Pastor Greg Laurie pointing out how our free will, our choice plays a pivotal role in what path our lives take. Important insight today from the Gospel of John in Pastor Greg's message called Why Does God Allow Evil? You know the last couple of years have been such a trying time for everyone.
The pandemic and all the uncertainty, political tension, unrest in our cities, inflation, empty store shelves. But the counsel in God's Word is the answer for the troubles and trials we're facing. And we want to reach out even further with these studies. The only thing holding us back is the resources to make it happen.
So Pastor Greg, we hope our listeners might pray about partnering with us so we can reach further in their own community and and reach further into places they've never even been. That's right. It's an investment in kingdom business. Isn't that right?
Yes, that's true. So whatever you can send to us here at A New Beginning, we'll use that money to reach more people with the teaching of the Word of God and the message of the Gospel. I hope some of you will be generous because this enables us to do more. But whatever you send, I look forward to hearing from you. Yeah, we hope you'll let God use you to make a difference, a real tangible difference in people's lives.
And we want to say thank you for your investment. Go to harvest.org and get the details on the book called The Case for Heaven. The subtitle is A Journalist Investigates Evidence for Life After Death. Best-selling author Lee Strobel carefully investigates reasons for belief in the afterlife and the existence of heaven and hell.
It's fascinating material. We'll send this resource your way to thank you for your donation. Just go to harvest.org or drop us a note at A New Beginning, Box 4000, Riverside, CA 92514. Or call us any time 24-7 at 1-800-821-3300.
That's 1-800-821-3300. And then we want to pass along a prayer request. Pastor Greg and the team are headed to Boise, Idaho soon for the Boise Harvest.
It's coming April 23rd and 24th. It'll be a huge outreach at the Extra Mile Arena where Pastor Greg will share important gospel messages. And he welcomes Jeremy Camp, Chris Tomlin, Andy Mineo, and Jordan Felice. So keep Pastor Greg in prayer and also keep this event in your prayers as well.
And if you know someone who lives in Idaho, let them know about this event. Get details at boise.harvest.org. You know, there's nothing like hearing the Word of God and worshiping the Lord together. I want to encourage you to join us for something we call Harvest at Home. It happens every Saturday and Sunday at harvest.org. You can join Christians literally from around the world as we worship and we study the Word of God together.
So join us for Harvest at Home at harvest.org. Well, next time, more insights from Pastor Greg's important message called, Why Does God Allow Evil? Join us here on A New Beginning with pastor and Bible teacher, Greg Laurie. Thanks for listening to A New Beginning with Greg Laurie, a podcast made possible by Harvest Partners, helping people everywhere know God. Sign up for daily devotions and learn how to become a Harvest Partner at harvest.org.
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