The horrible, unparalleled tragedy of Judas. Greatest tragedy in human history because he had the greatest opportunity.
Ignores the truth when it's in his face. He went to hell on purpose. He knew there was a hell. He sent himself there. His downfall came cause he loved himself too much. Welcome to Grace To You with John MacArthur.
I'm your host, Phil Johnson. Both men betrayed Christ, so why is Peter seen as a hero of the Christian faith, while Judas is history's most notorious traitor? Consider that with John MacArthur today on Grace To You as he continues his study titled, Lessons for a Modern-Day Disciple. Now John, before we get to the lesson on Peter and Judas and thinking particularly about Judas, he's the quintessential example of a false convert. This issue of false conversion is something you've traced throughout your ministry, and even as a student you wrote a paper on Judas.
I have a copy of it, and it's really pretty good. But you also have consistently warned against the dangers of false faith. So talk about that for a moment. Well, I was aware of the reality of false faith very early in my ministry because as a pastor's kid, I saw people who professed Christ and fell away. And I always asked the question, were they ever Christians? I had friends in college who claimed to be Christians who completely fell away. I had friends in seminary, even the son of the dean of the seminary, who walked away and put up a Buddhist altar in his home. So when I was in seminary, I began to ask that question seriously.
What are the dynamics? What is the pathology of false conversion? And Judas was the natural example. So I wrote my dissertation on a character study of Judas Iscariot, trying to get at how a person could spend three years, 24-7 with Jesus, and betray him when he had heard everything he taught and seen all the miracles – how can you turn against Christ under those kinds of circumstances?
And that kind of stuck with me because as I got into preaching at Grace Church early in my ministry there, I ran right into my first sermon. It was Matthew 7, many will say, Lord, Lord, and I'll say, Depart from me, I never knew you, you workers of iniquity. So that also plays out in the story of our Lord's crucifixion and the follow-up glimpses that we get of two of the disciples. One is Judas and the other is Peter, and they both betrayed Christ. We don't use the word betrayal with Peter, but he betrayed Christ.
I titled it The Tale of Two Preachers. Two men in Jesus' inner circle denied him, yet today only one of those men is in hell, only one of them was a false disciple, a false convert. What are the lessons to learn from Peter and from Judas? You need to listen today and tomorrow to find out. I think you're going to find this a compelling message, so stay right where you are and follow along. Right, friend, the difference between Peter and Judas is straightforward, but it might not be what you think. So stay here as John looks at the sad, yet also encouraging, Tale of Two Preachers. And now here's John with a lesson. I think you know that there has been a very disturbing reality in my life through all of the years of my ministry and that is the fact that the church is occupied by people who aren't really saved. I have addressed that so many ways I can't even count them.
I have written so many books on the gospel according to Jesus, the gospel according to the Apostles, ashamed of the gospel, and beyond and beyond, and books that don't have the gospel in the title that are addressed at the same subject, the truth war. You know them all, hard to believe. And they all are really driven at the same reality that the church is full of people who are on their way to hell. And if we are going to throw our bodies in front of them and make them go over us to get there, it has to start in the church.
We can't make assumptions. Second I want to tell you the Tale of Two Preachers, Tale of Two Preachers. These two you know, you know them very well. Both were called by Jesus personally. Both answered the call, forsook everything and followed Him. Both declared repeatedly their personal devotion to Him. Both were personally taught, personally trained by Jesus specifically for preaching ministry. Both were intimately acquainted with Him 24-7, every hour of the day, every day of the week for years.
They were in His small group. They were taught by Him through precept with a clarity and a power and a conviction and convincing arguments that had no parallel or ever will. And not only were they taught by precept, proposition, but by example because everything He ever taught them He lived to perfection.
No one has ever had an equal teacher, not even close. They were taught to know the will of God. They were taught what the will of God was. They were taught the Word of God.
They were taught to know it, to believe it, to live it, to love it, to preach it. Both saw the miracles of Jesus, virtually all of them, day after day as He banished illness from the land of Israel. Both saw clearly the revelation of His divine nature. As we saw with Nicodemus, even what he saw in a brief period of time convinced him that Jesus had come from God because no one could do what He did unless God had sent him. They saw His power over demons displayed again and again, His power over death, His power over disease, His power over nature. They lived it. Both of them heard Jesus answer every theological question perfectly. His answers were always the end of the discussion.
But there wasn't a need to say, could you clarify a little? He answered profoundly, clearly, perfectly, truthfully. Both were daily confronted with the reality of their fallenness. Both were made daily aware of their sin in bold relief because they were living with a sinless one. Both were told day after day after day after day that every sinner needs salvation. Both were told about the reality of eternal heaven and the reality of eternal hell. Both received and used the very power of the Lord Jesus delegated to them to preach effectively, to do healings and cast out demons.
And both exercised that power. Both preached Jesus as Messiah and Savior, Son of Man, Son of God, and they shared all of this together. They were exposed to Jesus in identical ways.
There's more. Both were sinners and they knew it...they knew it well. Both were so aware of their sin that they were overwhelmed with guilt...overwhelmed with guilt to a crushing level. Both, even with all this, gave themselves over to Satan to take up Satan's cause...both of them. Both of them in the end betrayed Jesus boldly, emphatically, openly, publicly, resolutely and they did it, both of them, at the end of all their training and experience and just before He was crucified.
Both of them were completely devastated by what they had done. One of them, in spite of his wicked betrayal of the Savior, is considered so honorable, so noble, such a grand figure that millions of people have been named after him. Some of you are named after him. The other man, not so much. The other man is considered so dishonorable, so despicable, and though his name means praised, nobody in this building has his name. Your dog doesn't have his name. You don't know anybody who has his name.
His name is hated and reviled. One of them, we who belong to Christ will all meet because that betrayer of Jesus Christ is in heaven. The other one, those who reject Christ may meet.
You'd have to go to hell to meet Judas and the other apostate defecting preachers. One of those preachers ended his life a suicide, hanging himself, eternally banished. The other ended his life a saint, crucified upside down, but eternally blessed. Two men, side by side, 24 seven for three years with each other, with Jesus, together all the time and then separated infinitely from each other forever. One of them is the first name in every list of the Apostles and there are four of them.
The other one is the last name in every list. One of them is enthroned in highest heaven. The other one is consigned to lowest hell. One of them will be honored forever. One of them will be tortured forever. Amazingly both betrayed the Lord Jesus and both regretted what they had done.
Both were sorry. Just a footnote here, salvation can't be by works because they both did the same works. They both did miracles. Salvation can't be by knowledge, they both had the same information. What made the difference?
Let me tell you what made the difference. What makes the difference is one's attitude toward the Lord Jesus. The bottom line is what do you think of Christ?
That is the bottom line. Churches are full of the same kinds of people. Churches are full of Peters and Judases, basically hearing the same messages, experiencing the same worship, seeing the same power on display in people's lives, serving, that they're going to end up in two extremely different destinations. Isn't this the way Jesus ends the Sermon on the Mount?
Many will say, Lord, Lord, and He will say, I never knew you. And it all comes back to one's attitude toward Jesus Christ. Through the years occasionally people have asked me, why are you so stuck on preaching Christ?
Well, because I know that what saves people from hell is their attitude toward Jesus Christ. I can't preach enough of Jesus Christ. I think that's the point of all Scripture to point to Him.
I make no apology to follow my mentor, Paul, who said, we preach Christ, we preach Christ, determined to know nothing among you except Christ. To see these two preachers in bold relief, turn in your Bible to Matthew 26. And we're just going to kind of work our way through the chapter. And you're very familiar with the chapter, but I'm praying the Lord will lead us to a place where there will come some fresh clarity for us. Jesus finished all His words. He said to His disciples, and you know, of course, that He had just given the great Olivet Discourse, the Sermon on His Second Coming. He said to His disciples, you know that after two days, the Passover is coming and the Son of Man is to be handed over for crucifixion.
You've been saying that a lot. Way back in chapter 16, that wonderful familiar text that we love where Peter says, you're the Christ, the Son of the living God. Verse 21 of that chapter, Matthew 16, from that time Jesus began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes and be killed and be raised up on the third day.
And this was way too much to swallow. Peter took Him aside, began to rebuke Him. God forbid it, Lord, this shall never happen to You. And He turned and said to Peter, get behind Me.
Who? See? This was an absolutely unacceptable notion. He constantly told them that He was going to die. He gave them details about it. He even told them how it was going to happen, how they were going to treat Him, who was going to do it. And the plan was in motion. Verse 3, the chief priests, the elders of the people were gathered together in the court of the high priest named Caiaphas and they plotted together to seize Jesus by stealth and kill Him.
I mean, that was the plan. Get Him, kill Him. Drop down to verse 6, Jesus was in Bethany which is where He stayed during the Passover, you remember, at the home of Mary and Martha and Lazarus. This time He's at the home of Simon the leper for a meal. And a woman came to Him with an alabaster vial of very costly perfume and she poured it on His head as He reclined at the table. But the disciples were indignant when they saw this and said, why this waste?
For this perfume might have been sold for a high price and the money given to the poor. It just says here the disciples said this. Who said it? Judas said it. According to John 12, 4, it was Judas, he was the protester and here is the first time in the gospel record that Judas begins to reveal his character. Up to this point, we don't know anything about him. We don't know anything about him.
We know quite a bit about Peter, James and John and we kind of drip into Andrew a little bit in group 2 and maybe into Philip a little bit in group 2 and then we start to get all the guys we know nothing about, or very little. We don't have any information about Judas until now. No suspicion existed on the part of anybody else. I mean, he didn't seem to respond any differently than the rest of them to what Jesus said. He didn't seem to react any differently to what Jesus did. He seemed to be doing everything they were doing when they were sent out to do what Jesus delegated them to do.
There was no suspicion. But he wants the money. In verse 12, Jesus says, when she poured this perfume on my body, she did it to prepare me for burial.
Yikes! Burial? Judas wants money, power, prestige, elevation. He wants to be in the power seat when Jesus takes His Kingdom.
And his ambitions are being smashed by all this talk of crucifixion, death, burial. This is massively disappointing to Judas, massively. So verse 14, one of the twelve named Judas Iscariot...Iscariot means from Kerioth, he's the only non-Galilean. He snuck in, they didn't know anything about him.
Most of the Galileans knew each other. He went to the chief priests and he said, what are you willing to give me to betray Him to you? And they weighed out 30 pieces of silver to him. And from then on he began looking for a good opportunity to betray Jesus. On the day of the first day of Unleavened Bread, in verse 17, the disciples came to Jesus and asked, where do you want us to prepare for you to eat the Passover? And he said, go into the city to a certain man and say to him, the teacher says, my time is near, I'm going to keep the Passover at your house with my disciples. The disciples did it, Jesus had directed them and they prepared the Passover Thursday night. Passover established back in Exodus 12, they're going to have the Passover.
Well you know the story. Verse 20, evening, Jesus is reclining at the table with the twelve disciples. As they were eating He said, truly I say to you, one of you will betray Me.
This is total shock, total shock. Verse 22, being deeply grieved, they each one began to say to Him, surely not I, Lord. They would have suspected themselves before they would have suspected Judas. There was nothing to cause them to look at Him. Shock beyond imagination, no suspicion, none at all. Jesus says, He who dipped His hand with Me in the bowl is the one who will betray Me.
They had a bowl, some bread, they dipped it in the bowl, that's how they ate the meal. The Son of Man is to go just as it is written of Him, but woe to the man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed. It would have been good for that man if he had not been born, better never born. Judas who was betraying Him, he had already made the deal even though he hadn't yet found the moment, said, surely it is not I, Rabbi.
That may be one of the most ugly moments in history. Jesus said to him, You've said it yourself. Nobody suspected Him. He thought He could get away with another statement of hypocrisy. He was a master hypocrite.
You've said it yourself. Go down to verse 30, after singing a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. You remember what happens now, they go to the Mount of Olives, Passover is done, late at night they go to the Mount of Olives. Pick it up in verse 36, Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, said to His disciples, Sit here while I go over there and pray. Took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, you know the story. They pray...they pray.
They fall asleep. Jesus prays three times and they can't stay awake. I want you to drop down to verse 45. Then He came to the disciples and said to them, Are you still sleeping and resting? Behold, the hour is at hand and the Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of sinners. This is the third devastating, unbelievable, unbearable, unimaginable, inconceivable shock.
Get up, let's be going. Behold, the one who betrays Me is at hand. Judas goes into action. We pick up the account of what he does in verse 47. While Jesus was still speaking, Judas who wasn't with Jesus and the three in the Garden, one of the Twelve, can I just tell you that every time Judas is mentioned in the gospels and they all include his betrayal, it always identifies him as one of the Twelve because it is so inconceivable.
To underscore the shock, to underline the insidiousness. And John says, It is at this point that Satan enters Judas...Satan enters Judas. Jesus never, of course, was fooled. He knew he was the son of perdition. In fact, in John 6, 70, Jesus said, Did I myself not choose you, the Twelve, and one of you is a devil? So at this point Satan enters into Judas. Verse 47, Jesus is in the Garden, Judas shows up with this massive entourage of chief priests, elders, the temple police with their clubs and swords and no doubt some of the Romans and they're all coming to arrest him. And this is appropriate time because they were afraid of the crowds during the day because he had just had the hosannas thrown at his head and the palm branches thrown at his feet when he rode into Jerusalem a few days before.
So they come in the middle of the night, as it were, this is stunning. Verse 48, He who was betraying Him gave them a sign saying, Whomever I kiss, He's the one, seize Him. Immediately Judas went to Jesus and said, Hail, Rabbi, and kept on kissing Him...kept on kissing Him.
And Jesus said to him, Friend, do what you have come for. And they laid hands on Jesus and seized Him. Go down to verse 57, those who had seized Jesus led Him away to Caiaphas, the high priest where the scribes and elders were gathered together.
Peter was following at a distance as far as the courtyard of the high priest and entered in and sat down with the officers to see the outcome. Now the chief priests and the whole council kept trying to obtain false testimony against Him so they could put Him to death. They didn't find any, although many witnesses came forward later on, two came forward, of course, and they were false witnesses.
Now what was the outcome of the trial? Down to verse 65, just to kind of hurry a little. The high priest tears his robe and says, He has blasphemed, we don't need any witnesses, you heard the blasphemy, He deserves death. Verse 67, They spat on His face, beat Him with their fists, others slapped Him and said, Prophesy to us, you Christ who is the one who hit you. Drop down to chapter 27, verse 1, When morning came, all the chief priests and the elders of the people conferred together against Jesus to put Him to death. They bound Him, led Him away, delivered Him to Pilate, the governor. When Judas who had betrayed Him, saw that He had been condemned, he felt remorse and returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders saying, I have sinned by betraying innocent blood. But they said, What is that to us?
See to that yourself. And he threw the pieces of silver into the temple sanctuary and departed and he went away and hanged himself. The chief priests took the pieces of silver and said, It's not lawful to put them into the temple treasury.
By the way, it wasn't lawful to do what they did to Jesus, that didn't bother them. It's the price of blood, they conferred together and with the money bought potter's field as a burial place for strangers. For this reason that field has been called the field of blood to this day and that which was spoken through Jeremiah the prophet was fulfilled and they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of the one whose price had been set by the sons of Israel, gave them for the potter's field as the Lord directed me. It identifies Jeremiah as the source of that, it's actually Zachariah but the reason Jeremiah is identified is because the Old Testament was divided into three sections.
You had the Law and you had the Writings and you had the Prophets and Jeremiah was the first book in the Prophets in the Hebrew text and so Jeremiah became a title for that section. So what do you have in that section, verses 3, in following the horrible tragedy of Judas, the horrible tragedy of Judas? He hangs himself.
He couldn't even do that very well. The first chapter of Acts says that he died by having his bowels bashed on the rocks, which means either the rope broke, the knot slipped, or the branch broke, the horrible unparalleled tragedy of Judas. Greatest tragedy in human history because he had the greatest opportunity.
Is Judas selfish greed that ignores the truth when it's in his face? He went to hell on purpose. He knew there was a hell. He sent himself there. His downfall came because he loved himself too much. He rejected salvation too easily. He resented Jesus too strongly.
And the same sun that melts the wax hardens the clay. It's John MacArthur, Chancellor of the Masters University and Seminary, looking at the difference between true and false love for Christ. John's series today on Grace to You is titled Lessons for a Modern-Day Disciple. And now, friend, a quick reminder that we have a sale going on right now so that nearly all of John's books, study Bibles, the commentaries, all of them are available at 25% off our normal price. It's a great time to get a resource for yourself or a gift for a loved one.
And the sale ends tomorrow, so take advantage of the discount right now. You can call us between 730 and 4 o'clock Pacific time. Our number is 800-55-GRACE, or go to our website, gty.org. And just a word about the MacArthur Study Bible. It features 25,000 footnotes that give insight into virtually every passage of Scripture.
It will explain the historical context, define key biblical terms, and give you much more information that brings your Bible study to life and explains the difficult passages. The MacArthur Study Bible is available in the New King James Version, the New American Standard Bible, and also the English Standard Version. To get the MacArthur Study Bible at 25% off the normal price, call us at 855-GRACE. Or, go to gty.org. And to download all five messages from this series, Lessons for a Modern Day Disciple, you can get them for free at gty.org. There you'll find any previous study that we've aired and hundreds of lessons that we haven't put on the radio yet. In fact, all of John's sermons are free to download at gty.org. Now for John MacArthur, I'm Phil Johnson, inviting you to be here tomorrow when John looks at Peter's transformation from a denier of Christ to someone who was martyred for his faith in Christ. Don't miss the next half hour of unleashing God's truth one verse at a time, on Thursday's Grace to You.
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