Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith.
It's good to pause the race of life long enough to examine one's heart and find out what really motivates us. Judas shows us how far away we can fall from Christ, even though to all observers we seem to be children of God. From the Moody Church in Chicago, this is Running to Win with Dr. Erwin Lutzer, whose clear teaching helps us make it across the finish line. Pastor Lutzer, we're heading into John chapter 13 to learn about the fateful moment when Satan entered into Judas. Dave, you know, I've often contemplated that moment, and I realized that Satan is not a gentleman.
He doesn't even need an invitation to enter. Judas, of course, being next to Christ, knowing that he was going to betray his master, he leaves the meeting. And isn't it interesting that John says he left and it was night? What John meant by that was not only physical night outside, but the night of the soul, the darkness of the soul. And of course, Satan took advantage of Judas's heart. It is a time for contemplation. It is a time for asking what faithfulness looks like in the midst of a culture that wants us to betray ourselves.
I've written a book entitled The Church in Babylon. And by the way, today is the last day we're making this offer available to you. It'll be a resource that I think will be of great help.
For a gift of any amount, it can be yours. Now, it deals with a number of different topics that we are facing in our culture. For example, the whole matter of the gospel, how we must shamelessly share its message with the world. The last chapter is entitled The Church That Will Survive in Babylon. Thanks in advance for helping us.
If you want to contact us, if you want this resource to be yours, go to rtwoffer.com or call us at 1-888-218-9337. Let us guard our hearts. Jesus warned us what might happen if we don't. It was customary to take a bit of mutton and to put it in the dish and to hand it to the honored guest and Jesus honors him by giving it to him and Judas receives it and it says in verse 27, as soon as he took the bread, Satan entered into him.
It's time for a pause in this message. It's time that we just talked eye to eye, heart to heart, life to life, truth to truth. Do you notice it is not necessary to invite Satan in, in order for him to come in? Judas did not have to say, Satan, please enter me. Satan entered because as long as Judas was going to do the work of the devil, the devil who does not play by rules, who is not a gentleman who comes in uninvited, simply began to take over and said, you stand on my territory, you play my game and I have come to take charge. Satan enters into him to give him the strength and the ability and the rationalizations to do what he needs to do because sitting there in the presence of the disciples, he did not even blush.
Jesus said to him, what you're going to do, do quickly. The disciples don't know what Jesus is saying. They're still thinking that he's asking Judas to go and buy something.
That's what the text says. Verse 30, as soon as Judas had taken the bread, he went out and it was night. What John wants us to understand is that he who was now night goes into the blackness, into the darkness because all of the night of that fateful evening in Jerusalem was now wrapped up in the heart of Judas, whose heart had been tainted by Satan. The behavior of a saint, but the heart of a devil. What was it that caused Judas to betray Christ? He had a covetous heart.
Get that money, whether you lie for it, whether you steal about it, whether you betray for it, at all costs, get it. But then he had a deceitful mind that came along and said, I'm going to go through the charade. I'm going to go through the game and play it in such a way that the other disciples will not even know who I really am. Jesus knows, but they won't.
There's a third character flaw and that is a very determined will, a very determined will. He has such a hard heart now at this point that he's determined to do several things. First of all, he's determined to betray Jesus at all costs and the cost for him was hell, but at all cost he will betray Jesus. We read in the book of Matthew how it went. While he was still speaking, Jesus one of the twelve arrived. With him was a large crowd armed with swords and clubs sent from the chief priests and the elders of the people. Now the betrayer had arranged a signal with them.
Notice this. The one I kiss is the man. Arrest him. Going at once to Jesus, Judas said, Greetings, Rabbi, and kissed him. Jesus, ever the gentleman, replies, Friend, friend, do what you've come to do.
Do what you've come to do. A kiss. This man was so cunning. He had so much ability that he was able to make treachery look like loyalty and in the eyes of the people who were watching this, they thought, doesn't, doesn't Judas actually love Jesus? Those who weren't in on the plot probably thought so, but in the midst of this high tension situation, he's willing to walk over to him and give him a kiss. But it was the kiss of betrayal, a determined hard will.
I shall do this no matter the cost. Well, you know what happened, don't you? Early in the morning, all the chief priests and the elders of the people came to the decision to put Jesus to death. They bound him and led him away and handed him over to Pilate. When Judas, who had betrayed him, saw that Jesus was condemned, he was seized with remorse and returned the 30 silver coins to the chief priests and the elders and said, I have sinned for I betrayed innocent blood. Judas, what's your problem?
You love money and you've got it. See, Judas could not see the remorse that was going to overtake him. All that he could see is 30 silver coins, a good hedge against inflation and some money to be able to buy those things that normal people aren't able to buy to become a part of the upper crust. That's what all that he could see. What's his problem now?
He's got it. He could not predict the remorse. He could not predict the backlash. He could not predict the guilt, the shame that would come about as a result of his betrayal.
So what does he do? Judas threw the money into the temple and left. No sympathy from those who were his cohorts here.
And he did what 25,000 Americans do every year. He committed suicide. I wish all of you had been at the Passion Play. It's impossible to recreate the sense of presence of these events as was portrayed in Oberammergau. But what I'd like to do is to read for you a soliloquy that was a part of the Oberammergau play, the soliloquy of Judas just before he hangs himself.
I wish I could read it with the same sense of passion that the man who played the part was able to do. But nonetheless, let me give it to you. Judas is speaking in agony. Where can I go to hide my shame to cast off the agony? No place is dark enough. No sea is deep enough. Earth, open up and devour me. I can be no more. I've betrayed him. The best of men I have delivered into the hands of his enemies to be tormented and executed. Where is there another man on whom such guilt rests?
I am a contemptible traitor. How kind he has been toward me. How gently he comforted me when dark rejection oppressed my soul. How he warned me when I was already harboring this shameless betrayal.
And I, this is how I have rewarded him. A cursed Satan. You have made me blind and deaf. You tempted me to do this deed and dragged me into the abyss. Not a disciple any longer, hated everywhere, despised everywhere, berated as a traitor, even by those who seduced me, exiled from human society with its blazing fire within my gut. Everyone takes flight from me.
Everyone curses me. Still there is one, one whose face I wish I could see again, to whom I could cling. But this one lies in chains and perhaps is already being led to his death through my fault, my fault. Woe to me, for there is no hope, no redemption. He is dead and I am his murderer.
Cursed, cursed is the hour in which my mother gave birth to me. Am I to drag along this martyr's life any longer, endure these torturers within me, flee from others as one afflicted from the plague? No, I can bear no more. Not another step shall I take. Here I will bring to an end, end my accursed life.
Here the most miserable of all fruits shall hang. Come you serpent, come you serpent, coil yourself around my throat and strangle this traitor." And with that, he dies. It's the end of his mother's dream. Judas prays, this is my baby. It's the end of his father's dream. Judas, potential, possibility.
It's gone. You say, could Judas even at that moment have received forgiveness? Yes, if he would have desired it, he would have received it.
If you ask the other question, was it possible for him to desire it? Then we get into some deep theological water because the text tells us that these things had to come to pass. But let me talk to those of you who maybe are on the verge of becoming a traitor, of becoming a Judas.
You can, if you desire, come to the only one who can save you. Judas had remorse. What is remorse? Remorse is looking at your sin apart from the forgiveness of Christ. For remorse, there is no answer. For the desire to be forgiven, there is. There is a wonderful savior to whom we cling. What are three life-changing lessons that we dare not forget as we look at the life of Judas? What are those lessons? Let me give them to you.
First of all, no position. Dare I say, no gifts, no abilities are a substitute for a converted heart. No gifts, no position, no abilities are a substitute for a converted heart. My friend, let's take another look at Judas. Judas is not the kind of person who comes to church late, sits in the back row, and then leaves before the final hymn. There are people like that, but that's not Judas. Judas volunteers to sing in the choir. Judas volunteers to be an usher, maybe especially an usher. Judas is the kind of person whom we elect to deacon boards. We may do that, perhaps elders.
Shall I swallow hard and say it? Judas might be a pastor. Judas is the kind of person who has ability and who has the sense of ministry.
That's Judas. And so let us keep in mind, my friend, it does not matter your abilities. It does not matter the honor that has been given to you.
It does not matter the image that you may have. The simple fact is there is no substitute for a converted heart, and God knows those who are his, and sometimes we don't. No position, no gifts, no abilities substitute for conversion.
Number two, only grace, only grace draws us to Christ and keeps us there. People always say, well, why did Jesus choose Judas? Or they may ask the question, why did Judas betray Christ? I have a different question for you today. Why did the 11 disciples not betray him in this way?
That's the real question. The reason that God chose Judas, Christ chose him so that he might be a representative humanity showing human nature without restraints, without the intervention of God's grace and without repentance. That is human nature right there, Judas, and there's a little bit of Judas in all of us. And if we love God, and if we've been converted by God, and if we want to follow God, and if we desire and we love him, it is God's matchless grace, because all of us when we're born have the same sin nature.
The only difference is our environment, what we're taught, and at the end of the day, the grace and the intervention of God. Here's a final lesson, and this I think pretty well wraps it up, that the gate to hell is right next door to the gate to heaven. The gate to hell is right next to the gate to heaven. Jesus is the gate to heaven. For three years, Judas was able to be with him, to learn from him, to become a part of him.
All of that happened, and yet Judas never allowed Christ to change his heart, and therefore he came to the gate of heaven but walked past it, and eventually he went to hell. I think it's true of most pastors, certainly true of me, somehow we're fascinated by cemeteries. When my wife and I were in England just last week, we were at a little Anglican church with a marvelous, marvelous cemetery. I like the idea of cemeteries around churches. I think it would be pretty difficult here at the Moody Church, don't you?
There's something about having to walk past the alumni association before you get to the undergraduates. In fact, the cemetery had a bench, great idea. Everybody should spend at least an hour meditating in a cemetery from time to time. I like to look at epitaphs. I often wonder what would be on my epitaph, not the one that my family would choose because they might be much kinder to me than God would be. I'm thinking what would God maybe put on my epitaph.
Oh, you look at the Scriptures and you think of Abraham, a friend of God. Imagine that on your tombstone. You think of David despite all of his faults, a man after God's own heart. You think of Paul. What would we put on Paul's tombstone?
Possibly I have fought the good fight. We take it right out of his last words. What about Judas? What do we write on his tombstone? The words of Jesus in another context. Jesus said it would have been good for that man if he had never been born.
Wow. Are you listening to me today? Are you hearing what God is saying to us? If you have never been born twice, you will eternally regret that you were born once.
It will have been good for you if you had never been born. So I end today with a question. What if Jesus were to say to you and to me, you know, among you there are some here at the Moody Church who are listening. There are some among you who will betray me. What would you say?
Would you say, I've always wondered about so-and-so, always had my doubts about their commitment. Let's take a page from the disciples and ask a question. Lord, is it I? Choir members, is it you? Ushers, is it you? Deacons, pastoral staff members, congregation, visitors, is it you?
Is it I? Could I preach the gospel? Could I shepherd people?
Could I share the word? Could it be me, Lord? It's a question that we should burn into every single human heart. Lord, is it I? So I need to ask you something today. I ask myself, but I have to ask you because I'm your pastor.
Is it you? Our Father, we think of the mystery of a life lived in such a way that it would have been good if he had never been born. We think of the mother of Judas not knowing that throughout 2,000 years of history, no one so far as we know would ever call a son Judas. We think, Father, of this man so close to Jesus and yet eternally so far. And we ask that with the disciples sitting around that table in the presence of the all-knowing Christ that you might grant us the ability to ask a simple question, Lord, is it I? I want you to ask that question right now in the presence of the Lord.
Would you? Whoever you are, wherever you're listening, you ask that question, Lord, is it I who has never been converted? Father, grant a spirit of revelation and conviction and truth. We ask in Jesus' blessed name, amen. My friend, I don't know about you, but I'm deeply sobered by the message that has just been presented. The fact that the human heart can be so deceptive and to realize that there are some of you who are listening today who perhaps think that you are on your way to heaven.
Usually, it's because people think that their good work should get them there, but you're deceived. It is a time for each of us to ask the question, Lord, is it I? Meanwhile, for those of you who know Jesus Christ as your Savior and you're wondering how you can better navigate the culture, I've written a book entitled The Church in Babylon.
Now, I need to emphasize that today is the last day that this resource is being made available to you. This book deals with all kinds of issues. It deals with conflicts of conscience. It deals with what do we do when everyone else around us bows to the culture and we don't. The courage to confront a deadly enemy such as technology, transgenderism, sexuality in the church, Islam, immigration and the church, taking the cross into the world, false gospels.
And then the last chapter is entitled The Church That Will Survive in Babylon. For a gift of any amount, this book can be yours. Here's what you do. Go to rtwoffer.com. That's rtwoffer.com or call us at 1-888-218-9337. Now, because this is the last day we're making this resource available, I'm going to be giving you that contact info again. But thank you so much in advance for helping us.
Your gifts enable Running to Win to be in 20 different countries in three different languages. Contact us. Go to rtwoffer.com or call us at 1-888-218-9337. You can call right now, 1-888-218-9337. Thanks so much for your encouragement and your help.
You can write to us at Running to Win, 1635 North LaSalle Boulevard, Chicago, Illinois 60614. Running to Win is all about helping you understand God's roadmap for your race of life. Anxiety can slow all of us down in the race of life. But anxiety is something Jesus said we can leave by the side of the road. Are you fearful about the future? If you're beset by anxiety, tune in next time as we turn to John chapter 13. Here we'll see how having a heavenly heart conquers anxiety. Thanks for listening. For Dr. Erwin Lutzer, this is Dave McAllister. Running to Win is sponsored by the Moody Church.
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