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Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul
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July 16, 2023 12:01 am


Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul

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July 16, 2023 12:01 am

What could have led Judas to betray Jesus into the hand of His enemies? Today, R.C. Sproul continues his sermon series in the gospel of Luke to consider the motivations behind this diabolical action and its place in the sovereign plan of God.

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The traitor of all traitors, the most pernicious betrayal in the history of this world was that committed by a friend and disciple of Jesus, Judas Iscariot, who sold his Savior for a handful of money. When we read the Gospel accounts of Judas' betrayal of Jesus, we're often shocked that he would do such a thing, to be so close to Jesus and yet betray Him. But are we too quick to assume that, if left to ourselves, we wouldn't do the same thing? I'm glad you're with us for this Sunday edition of Renewing Your Mind.

I'm Nathan W. Bingham. So why did Judas betray Jesus? And why didn't Matthew, James, John, Peter, and the others? Well today R.C. Sproul will walk us through Luke's record of this betrayal and explore the many reasons why. Here's Dr. Sproul. This morning we're going to continue our study of the Gospel according to St. Luke.

We tend to do this intermittently. And this morning we'll be looking at chapter 22, verses 1 through 6, and then verses 47 through 53, and I'd ask the congregation please to stand for the reading of the Word of God. Now the Feast of Unleavened Bread drew near, which is called the Passover, and the chief priests and scribes were seeking how to put him to death, for they feared the people. And then Satan entered into Judas, called Iscariot, who was of the number of the twelve. He went away and conferred with the chief priests and officers how he might betray him to them.

And they were glad, and they agreed to give him money. So he consented and sought an opportunity to betray him to them in the absence of a crowd. And then over in verses 47 following, and while he was still speaking there came a crowd, and the man called Judas, one of the twelve, was leading them. He drew near to Jesus to kiss him.

But Jesus said to him, Judas, would you betray the Son of Man with a kiss? And those who were around him saw what would follow. They said, Lord, shall we strike with the sword? One of them struck the servant of the high priest and cut off his right ear. But Jesus said, no more of this. And he touched his ear and healed him. And then Jesus said to the chief priests and officers of the temple and elders who had come out against him, have you come out as against a robber with the swords and clubs?

When I was with you day after day in the temple, you would not lay hands on me. But this is your hour and the power of darkness. This shameful record comes to us from Luke, who was superintended and inspired by God, the Holy Spirit, and the record carries the full weight and authority of God Himself.

Please receive it as such and be seated. Let's pray. Again, our Father and our God, we come to you humbled by this account and record of the treachery that was once performed against our Savior and our Lord. Help us this hour to understand what could possibly motivate such utter evil and wickedness, how we could find a reasonable explanation within our own hearts for this kind of diabolical behavior. And so again, we ask you to help us in our understanding of this text, that you by your Spirit may apply it to our understanding, to our own conviction for our redemption, for we ask it in Jesus' name. Amen.

Let's pray. What a brutal and ugly word that is in the human vocabulary. There are all kinds of ways in which we sin against God and against each other, but when the word betrayal comes up, there's something sickening about it, and we respond in our gut to it. We think of the Revolutionary War, Benedict Arnold who is buried now as a hero in Westminster Abbey given the perspective of the British side of the matter. We think of the name Quisling who betrayed Scandinavia to the Germans in World War II as a word that has become synonymous with this kind of deceitfulness and treachery, but the traitor of all traitors. The most pernicious betrayal in the history of this world was that committed by a friend and disciple of Jesus, Judas Iscariot, who sold his Savior for a handful of money. And what I want to focus on this morning about this matter is this question, why?

Why in the world did he do it? What in the world so motivated Judas that he would commit one of the most treacherous acts in the history of the human race? And we can look at this from different perspectives. On the one hand, we can look at it from the worm's eye view or another from the bird's eye view or what I call the proximate cause as distinguished from the remote cause, the near at hand explanation or the more distant view of the matter. And we look first of all from this proximate perspective, and we can see two reasons that jump out at us to explain this dreadful deed.

The immediate explanation we get was that he did it for the money. Before the Lord's Supper took place, before he met with the rest of the disciples in the celebration of the Passover, Judas is already matched with the chief priests and the scribes and the Pharisees in secret, and he said, let's make a deal. You want Jesus? And you want Jesus in a way that you can capture him privately without the spectators being gathered in terms of the popularity of the crowd? How about we do it at night?

Send us a battalion or a group of soldiers. Come out into the darkness. I'll make sure they recognize the one that they want to capture. This will be the sign.

I'll go up to him, and I'll kiss him, and then you'll know he's your man. Let's make a deal. How much do you want? said the authorities. They offered him thirty pieces of silver. You know, right before the gospel account of the prediction that Judas would betray Jesus, there's a little short pericope there that tells of a woman who comes out of extravagant love for Jesus and anoints him with precious perfume. And some of the disciples protest against this saying, what a waste of money this is.

We could take this money and give it to the poor. But Jesus blessed her and commended her for her love and affection. That perfume that was used to anoint Jesus was worth twice the amount of the thirty pieces of silver. In the grand scheme of economy, the sum that was paid to Judas for betraying Jesus was paltry.

It was nothing. And after the deed had been done and Judas was overcome with remorse, he knew that it was nothing. And he came back to the scribes and Pharisees, and he hurled those coins onto the ground and in despair.

He left the room. He left the money, and he went out and committed suicide. Three pieces of silver for the pearl of great price, for the most precious jewel the world has ever known. He was bought and paid for with this thieves' ransom of silver. That's one reason that we can look to explain this act of treachery. He did it for the money.

But I think we have to look a little bit more deeply than that to get a greater perspective on what was taking place in this hour. The Bible tells us that right before Judas committed this act, Satan entered into him. He was not simply harassed by Satan.

He was literally possessed by the prince of evil. Satan entered into the inner core of Judas' being and fired up the avarice, intensified the greed as Judas would seek profit for his dirty work. Now we could step back from that and say, well, you know, this is really an excuse for Judas. So like Flip Wilson used to say, the devil made me do it. How can you hold poor Judas responsible for his behavior after Satan came into him and possessed his soul? Wouldn't that exonerate him at the judgment seat of God?

Oh, no, no, no, no. Satan found for himself a willing companion in this deal. Satan didn't come and coerce Judas to perform the act.

They were partners in crime as any partners ever had been. Judas acquiesced willingly coming out of the darkness of his own heart. He didn't need to have Satan possess him.

He was happy for that occasion. So that's another possible explanation for why he did it. Let me give you a third one, not from the proximate view, but from the remote view, not from the worm's eye view, but from the bird's eye view, not from the near but the distant view, from the overarching supernatural view, God Almighty, eternally predestined Judas to carry out this act. If anything would seem to excuse him, it would be God's sovereign activity in this entire drama. Beloved, the Scriptures make it abundantly clear that the action of Judas was not an accident. It was planned and planned from eternity.

It was planned from the beginning. It was decreed by Almighty God, and whatsoever God ordains must necessarily come to pass. Notice the Westminster Confession rightly teaches in chapter 3 of that confession that God ordains everything that comes to pass, semicolon, but not in such a way as to do violence to the will of the creature or to bypass secondary causes. Now again, we see in the mysterious doctrine of God's providence and His concurrence, this combining of choices between the human and the divine to bring certain actions and consequences to pass. We think of the final hours of Joseph with his brothers when they stood trembling before him, fearing the consequences of his wrath. And Joseph tried to put them in ease. He said, do you think I'm going to play God with you?

No. And then he said, you meant it for evil, but God meant it for good. From one perspective, we see that the most evil action in the history of the world was committed by Judas. On the other hand, from a different perspective, the most glorious deed that ever was performed in our behalf was the betrayal of Jesus Christ because through that work that orchestrated by God's sovereignty, our salvation came to pass. But again, Judas was willing. He had his intention. His purpose was to strike at Jesus.

God's purpose was to redeem us through this very same act. And like we see in the Old Testament drama of the Exodus, in the contest between the most powerful sovereign on the planet Pharaoh of Egypt and the even more sovereign being who inhabits the heavens, it was really no contest. There was no question of how the Exodus would eventually work itself out, but test after test after test, plague after plague after plague. And each time a plague occurred, Pharaoh would be distressed and then would be inclined to say, oh, let them go. And then we read that Pharaoh's heart was hardened.

Who hardened it? God hardened it. Not because, as Luther understood, God would create fresh evil in the heart of Pharaoh that he would become more and more obstinate and rebellious against God's salvific plans. No. All God had to do to harden Pharaoh's heart was to give him more rope, to remove more restraint, and let him act according to Pharaoh's own character. That helps a little bit in understanding the drama of Judas, again, who's not a victim of fate or of a whimsical providence by which God creates fresh evil in his heart and forces him against his will, kicking and screaming, to betray the Son of Man.

No. Betrayal was already in the heart of this man. And even as Jesus would say at the Last Supper, what you are about to do, do quickly. I know what you're going to do. I know what you want to do.

Go do it. And so this appointment that had been made from eternity was fulfilled by one whose heart was already desperately wicked. Let me look at a passage that concerns this in the Gospel according to St. John, where we get to the high priestly prayer in the upper room after Judas is gone, John chapter 17. I'm not praying for the world, Jesus said, but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours. All mine are yours, and yours are mine, and I am glorified in them. And I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I'm coming to you, Holy Father. Keep them in your name.

This was the passionate prayer of Jesus for his disciples. Preserve them. Keep them. Don't allow them to be lost. Keep them what you have given me that they may be one even as we are one.

And while I was with them, I kept them in your name which you have given me. I have guarded them, Jesus said, and not one of them has been lost, not one except, here's the exception, the son of perdition that the Scripture might be fulfilled. Not one of them has been lost except that one who was the son of perdition that Scripture might be fulfilled, that the passage of the Old Testament had predicted that this one would betray me. He was never saved. He was never converted. It wasn't like suddenly Judas had lost his faith and turned to darkness to sell his soul.

No, no, no. He was the son of perdition from the beginning, as the Scriptures told us. Now back once again to the proximate, and I ask the question, why?

How could he possibly do this? And let me just take a moment to do a little speculation, looking back just a short time previously to this moment in history when Jesus was with His disciples in Caesarea Philippi in the northern part of Galilee. And He asked the question, who do men say that I am?

You know the story. And they said, some say you're the prophet, some say you're John the Baptist, and so on. And Jesus said, well, who do you think that I am? And Simon gave the great confession, thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. Boy, that was a great day.

That was a wonderful confession. And Jesus responded, Simon, you know, and thou art Petrus, the rock, Peter. And upon this rock I will build my church because Simon flesh and blood hasn't revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. Great day for Simon. Days later, Jesus looked at His disciples, and He said, gentlemen, we're going to Jerusalem. And when we get there, I'm going to be betrayed into the hands of my enemies, and I'm going to suffer, and I'm going to die. Simon speaks again, may it never be.

Can't happen. No way, Jesus. And now instead of calling Him the rock, Jesus looks at Simon and He says, get behind Me, Satan. He calls Him the devil. If He heard the voice of Satan, just as He heard it in the wilderness, that would try to make Jesus have a detour for our redemption, a way to escape from the suffering and the death that was required in the atonement.

Simon, you don't know what you're talking about. You're voicing the theology of Satan. And then just a few days later, three of the disciples bowled His glory at the Mount of Transfiguration, the most glorious revelation that Jesus ever gave to His disciples during His earthly ministry. And while He was being transfigured, there appeared Moses and Elijah, and they engaged in conversation with Jesus.

And what did they talk about? They talked about what was waiting for Jesus in Jerusalem. And when the cloud vanished and the glory subsided, Jesus looks at His friends and said, let's go. I'm setting My face toward Jerusalem. Now what do you think they were feeling? Every step that they took between Galilee and Judea, their hearts were pounding in fear, their minds were dazzled by confusion.

How in the world could this be? We're going to Jerusalem? Now what do you think Judas is taking?

Here I'm speculating, I admit it. You know what I think really motivated Judas more than anything else to betray Jesus was unmitigated anger. He was furious. This isn't what I signed up for. I didn't leave my lucrative business to go to Jerusalem following somebody who was going to be executed as a criminal. It was in Matthew's mind. I was lining my pockets with the fees from the Romans for raising taxes, and the stranger came up to me one day and he said, follow me. I left everything.

For what? So that we could go to Jerusalem, have him betrayed and killed? James and John, Andrew, Peter, we had it made in our businesses when he came and stopped us in our tracks and said, come on, let's go. And we went. We were sure he was the Messiah. He was the one who would come and drive the Romans out, liberate us.

And now he says, we're going to follow him to his death. You know, I don't think that most anger arises out of pain. I think it all does. Physical pain, somebody punches you, it makes you mad. Somebody disappoints you, it makes you mad. Somebody frustrates you, it makes you… Look at a little baby with this little tinker toy or tonka toy where he has this little board with square pegs and round holes and all of that kind of stuff. And you see this baby seemingly infinitely patient, taking the mallet and trying to pound the square peg into the round hole. And he does it and he does it.

He smiles and he smiles. And after about a minute of that, he throws the mallet, he kicks the stool over and he gives in to his frustration and he starts screaming. It hurts him to fail. And failure and pain, disappointment, frustration give rise to anger. I believe Judas' anger reached a crescendo with every step that he took toward Jerusalem.

I'm not going to be a part of this. And when they got there and then went to the preparation for the Lord's Supper and they sat down at the table and Jesus said, one of you is going to betray Me. What did the disciples do? One by one, they went around the room. Is it I?

Am I the one? Lord, is it I who will betray you? What does that tell you? They were as caught up in this web of confusion and frustration as Judas was. They didn't know whether they were going to make it. Matthew's looking at himself and he's saying, no, I hope he's not talking about me.

Maybe he is. The one whom Jesus loved said, not me, Lord, please. But they didn't know. Do you know when push comes to shove, whether you will stand with Jesus or will you love this world more? And so, one by one, they asked a question. The only one at the table that was sure it wouldn't be him was Simon. But we have to deal with that question later because his confidence was not a valid one. Judas said, is it I? Jesus said, yes. Go.

Hurry up. Get out of here. I've met tens of thousands of people in my lifetime, but I have a list of four names on a piece of paper, and those four names represent people that I wish, sorely wish I had never, ever met them at all. What do they have in common? They were all my friends. Not just friends, close friends. The other thing they have in common is they all, every one of them, betrayed me.

This is every one of us has been betrayed by friends in this world, and every one of us has betrayed our friends in this world. Well, you know, when it comes to Jesus and Judas and the disciples, Jesus was John's Savior. Jesus was Matthew's Savior. Jesus was James and John and Andrew and Peter's Savior. Jesus was Nathanael's Savior. Jesus was Thomas' Savior. But he wasn't Judas' Savior, but he was Judas' friend. And even in the darkness of the night of betrayal, when Judas approached him, he called him friend, and Judas with this agreed-upon sign gave to Jesus the kiss of death.

They came with clubs, they came with swords, they came with lanterns, and they arrested him to take him to his trial. Judas watched them go, his lips as frozen as ice after he kissed the Son of Man goodbye. Beloved Jesus said this, if you love me, keep my commandments.

If you're my friend, do what I tell you to do. Oh, you know and I know that there's a thousand ways in which I have betrayed Jesus by not keeping His commandments, by not willingly participating in His suffering, affliction, and humiliation, by seeking an escape from the scandal that is the stone of stumbling to the world in Jesus, then never once has He betrayed me, and never once has He betrayed you if indeed your life is hid in Him. God grant by His grace that when push comes to shove and it will, we who belong to Him will stand. Isn't it a sweet truth, as R.C. Sproul said, that never once has Jesus betrayed us? You're listening to Renewing Your Mind, as each Sunday we hear a sermon from Dr. Sproul's series through the Gospel of Luke. Dr. Sproul was my pastor for almost six years, and as you heard today, he was able to masterfully weave together theology, along with the retelling of the narrative, so that you could understand the fullness of what the text was saying. And you find this same skill and care in his entire expositional commentary series. And today, for your donation of any amount, we'll give you digital access to his commentary on Luke's Gospel, which is based on the sermon series you're listening to each Sunday here on Renewing Your Mind. So give your gift today by visiting, and you'll receive an e-book edition of his commentary on Luke that you can easily place on your smartphone or your tablet. Next time in Luke's Gospel, we'll find ourselves in the Upper Room and the institution of the Lord's Supper, Communion. That's next Sunday here on Renewing Your Mind.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-07-16 02:31:49 / 2023-07-16 02:41:33 / 10

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