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Lessons from the Life of Judas - Life of Christ Part 87

So What? / Lon Solomon
The Truth Network Radio
December 5, 2023 7:00 am

Lessons from the Life of Judas - Life of Christ Part 87

So What? / Lon Solomon

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If I were to say to you the word backstabber, would somebody's face come up on the screen in your life? Maybe somebody at work that betrayed you? Or maybe somebody in your family who cheated you out of something that was part of the estate that you should have gotten? I don't know.

Would anybody come up on the screen if I stayed backstabber? Well, if you say that word to me, I'll tell you who I would think of. I would think of Louis Abramson.

Who is that? Well, he was a friend of mine when I was about nine years old. When I was nine years old, I used to collect pennies. And what we used to do is we used to ride our bikes down to the bank, Louis and I, and we'd get as many pennies as we could.

You know, I mean, as much money as we had. We'd bring them home, we'd look through the penny rolls, we'd collect the pennies. And I got a pretty good penny collection. But there are some pennies you just could never find in a roll.

I mean, they just weren't there. So there was also a coin shop right down from the bank. We would always go in there and check it out and see if any of the pennies we needed had come in. And then we'd buy them.

You know, things were not as expensive then. So one day, I'll never forget, I was in the store, happened to be by myself, and I saw one of these pennies I really needed. I'd been waiting for it for a long time, finally came in. I said, hot dog, got on my bike, was riding home to go get my money, you know. And I passed Louis, riding around the neighborhood.

He said, where are you going? And I said, hey, this penny that we both need just came in and I'm riding home to go get my money so I can go back and buy it real quick. And when I got home and got my money and went back, the penny was gone. Guess who bought the penny?

How did you know? Yeah, my friend, Louis, went and bought the penny before I could get home and get my money and get back. Now, that's a pretty low-down, dirty trick, don't you think? I mean, 40 years later, I still remember what a low-down, dirty trick this was. And it hurt then, and that was the ultimate backstab that you do to a nine-year-old.

I mean, that's about as bad as it comes for a nine-year-old, but it was still dirty. And I'll bet you, you could probably come up with somebody on the screen who backstabbed you at some point in life, couldn't you? Well, this morning, we want to look at the most famous backstabber in all of history, a fellow named Judas Iscariot.

And we want to talk a little bit about his life and see what lessons there we can learn from so we don't end up like he did. Interestingly enough, his name has come to be synonymous with the idea of backstabbing or betraying. If you look up the word Judas in the dictionary, it will say a person who is treacherous enough to betray a friend, an utter traitor. And you know, there's even the Judas goat, the one that leads all the other goats into going to get slaughtered.

So Judas's name has kind of become almost an interchangeable word for backstabbing or betrayal. We want to look at his life and see what spiritual lessons are there for us. And so here, I want you to follow along now in Luke 22, beginning at verse 1.

Now the feast of unleavened bread called the Passover was approaching. And the chief priests and the teachers of the law were looking for some way to get rid of Jesus, but they were afraid of the people. Now the rabbis, as you know and as I know, were trying for a long time now to arrest Jesus. They wanted to figure out how to get him, however, without provoking a riot. And that's what it says here when it says they were afraid of the people.

They knew if they grabbed him in a public arena that they'd have a riot on their hands. And so they had to figure out some way to grab Jesus privately. Well, a fellow named Judas solves their problem for them, verse 3. And then Satan entered Judas called Iscariot, one of the twelve. He said, Lon, what does Iscariot mean?

I've always wondered. I mean, it must have some phenomenally significant meaning. Actually, it means man of Kirioth.

That was the little village he was from. So that's all it means. That's it? That's all. Nothing profound, but if you're ever in a Bible trivia game, you might need to know that.

So this is important. OK, so Judas came to them, went to the chief priests and the officials of the temple guard and discussed with them how he might betray Jesus. And they were delighted.

They were thrilled. And they agreed to give him the money in advance. And he consented and watched for an opportunity to hand Jesus over to them when no crowd was present. Remember, they didn't need Judas to identify Jesus. They knew who he was. They didn't need Judas to tell them where Jesus was during the daytime.

He was in the temple court in the open. They needed Judas to lead them to him at night when he was alone so they could grab him secretly. OK, now, he cut a deal with them for 30 pieces of silver, the infamous 30 pieces of silver.

And the rabbis were tickled pink. They thought, this is great. Now, why did Judas do this?

I don't know. I asked myself the question, why would he do this? Now, I know on the sovereignty of God level that this was the sovereign will of God and this was all part of God's plan to get Christ to the cross.

I know that. But on the human level, why would Judas do this to his friend and his master? Well, if you watch Jesus Christ Superstar, the musical, that will tell you that the reason he did it is because he really loved Jesus and he really was a friend.

And Jesus, he knew, was not going to exercise his full authority as God and overthrow the Romans. So he thought by doing this, Judas thought he could provoke Jesus into having to exercise his deity and overthrow the Romans. If you go watch The Last Temptation of Christ, you'll find out that they think that Judas resented Jesus' power, was jealous of him, and turned him in because there was a power struggle going on. If you read the Bible, the Bible simply tells us in John chapter 12 that Judas was a thief. The Bible says that Judas held the money bag of the disciples, he was the treasurer, and he used to steal from the money bag. And so maybe the motive was just pure simple greed. He wanted the 30 pieces of silver and it was just greed.

I don't know. The Bible never tells us exactly what was going on in Judas' mind that he would do this. The only thing the Bible says that's absolutely clear is right here where it says it in verse 4 that he betrayed Jesus. He betrayed Jesus. That's all the Bible makes clear. He betrayed his friend.

Now there's one other very important observation I want to make here before we go on. And that is, do you know that this action of Judas had been predicted in the Bible hundreds of years before it ever happened? I want you to turn back with me into the Old Testament to the book of Zechariah. It's right at the end of the Old Testament and if you're using our copy of the Bible, Zechariah is on page 673. Page 673, Zechariah chapter 11. Now when was Zechariah written? Well the book tells us it was written between the second and the fourth year of Darius I of Persia, which means it was written somewhere between 520 and 518 BC.

That's 550 years before the events of Luke 22 ever happened in time and space. Now let's read what it says here. Zechariah 11 and look with me at verse 12. Zechariah 11 verse 12. And I told them, if you think it best, give me my pay but if not keep it, so they paid me 30 pieces of silver. And the Lord said to me, throw it to the potter, the handsome price that they paid me, so I took the 30 pieces of silver and I threw them into the house of the Lord to the potter. Isn't it interesting that 550 years before it happened, there is an exact prediction of the betrayal price of Jesus Christ and not only that, not only that, but an exact prediction of what would happen to that money after the betrayal took place.

Listen to Matthew 27. And when Judas, who had betrayed Jesus, saw that he was condemned, that Jesus was condemned, he was seized with remorse and he returned the 30 pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders and he said, I've sinned for I've betrayed innocent blood and they said, well that's not our problem, that's your problem. So, Judas threw the money into the temple and left. Does that sound like Zechariah chapter 11 verse 13, that he threw the money in the temple and left?

And he went away and he hanged himself. Now wait a minute, and the chief priests picked up the coins and said, well you know, it's against the law for us to take this money and put it back in the treasury because it's blood money, it was used to arrest somebody. Now isn't that interesting that they're so concerned about not violating the treasury, putting 30 pieces of silver back in it, but they would go ahead and be anxious and willing accomplices to murdering Jesus Christ.

I mean, you talk about straining at a gnat and swallowing a camel here. But anyway, they said, we can't put the money back in the treasury, that's against the law. So, it says, what they did is they decided to use the money to buy a potter's field as a burial place for foreigners and it was called the field of blood. This is exactly what was spoken by the prophet who said they took the 30 silver coins, the price set on him by the people of Israel and they used it to buy the potter's field, what Zechariah said. Now Zechariah wrote this 550 years before it actually happened. He said, well now wait a minute, wait a minute, how in the world could this be? Maybe what happened was that after this took place, they went back and got all the copies of Zechariah together and they changed them all, they rewrote them so that all the copies of Zechariah would say exactly what had already happened in time and space so it would look like there was prophecy, but there really wasn't any. You understand?

That's a very common opinion. And you know what? Up until 1947, it would have been very difficult to prove that that particular objection was wrong, but in 1937, the Dead Sea Scrolls were found and we know today we have copies of the book of Zechariah from 100 BC that say exactly what you just read in chapter 11. That's 100 years before Jesus was born. There is no way in the world these people could have gone back and rewritten the book of Zechariah, no friend, 550 years before it happened. This was already written.

You say, but how can that be? Answer, Isaiah 46. I am God and there's no other.

I am God and there's nobody like me. I make known the end from the beginning and I make known from ancient times things that are still yet to come. You see, the answer is, friends, that there is a living God who lives above time and space. There's a living God who knows the end from the beginning. There is a living God whose omnipotent power guarantees that the way he plans it is the way it's going to happen even 550 years later.

My goodness, if you need proof that there's a living God, who else could predict something 550 years before it happened? And so here's the story of Judas. He went out, threw the money back, hanged himself in remorse, and the life ends, Judas' life ends with self-destruction. Now that's the end of our passage, but of course it leads us to ask a question, and what's the question? So what? Very good, thanks. Well, there are three lessons that I see in the life of Judas, three lessons that we can learn from, and hopefully three things that we won't copy because this is not the right person's life to copy, but we can learn even from a bad example, right?

Okay. So there are three things I want to share with you, and here are the three lessons that I see. Number one, just being close by to Jesus doesn't mean you're related. Lesson number one, just being close by to Jesus doesn't mean you're related. I mean, look, all four gospels refer to Judas as one of the 12, and as a matter of fact, in Acts chapter one, after Jesus has gone back to heaven, Peter says about him, he was one of us and shared in this ministry.

Do you understand what that means? It means when Jesus sent the disciples out two by two to preach the gospel, Judas was one of them. It means when Jesus went to the Mount of Beatitudes and preached the Sermon on the Mount, Judas was there listening. It means that when Jesus stilled the storm on the Sea of Galilee, that Judas was in the boat. It means that when Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead and fed the 5,000 and turned water into wine, Judas was right there. I mean, how much closer by could you be than Judas was? And yet, in spite of all of that, Judas missed. He missed the kingdom of God.

Why? Because Jesus said this, I know my sheep and my sheep know me. See, friends, this is the language of personal relationship. This is the language of family ties. And in his heart, Judas never had this. He never made the decision. He never crossed the line that turned that closeness into relationship, into getting related. And you know what? Judas is a perfect example of how close you can come to this kingdom of God and still miss it.

You couldn't get any closer than he was. And my heart goes out to thousands and maybe even millions of people who sit in churches week after week, receive sacraments, sing hymns, give money, say the rosary to people who go to synagogue week after week and go on Yom Kippur and on the high holy days. And for people who do all kinds of other religious activity in our world somehow thinking, and in many cases they're very sincere people, somehow thinking that all of that being close by to God is going to eventuate in a relationship with God and in eternal life and into heaven. But friends, Judas is living proof it doesn't work that way. It doesn't work that way.

Being close to God is not good enough. You've got to be related. How do you get related? Well, it's simple. I want to show you. John Chapter 1, if you turn there with me, and it's page 750 if you're using our copy of the Bible. Let me show you how to get related.

It's really easy, actually. Here's what it says. John Chapter 1, verse 10. It says, Jesus was in the world, and even though the world was made by him, the world didn't recognize him. More than that, he came to his own people, verse 11, and they didn't receive him.

You say, what do you mean by that? It means they didn't embrace him. They didn't welcome him in. They didn't welcome him as the Messiah. They didn't welcome him as their Lord and Savior. They didn't say, you know, Jesus, we're surrendering our life to you. His death on the cross meant absolutely nothing to them. They did not receive or welcome him. Now watch, verse 12. But to those who would receive him, to those who would welcome him, to those who would embrace what he did on the cross as payment for their sin, to those who would acknowledge him as the Messiah and the Savior of the world and invite him into their lives to be their personal Lord and Messiah, to those people, watch.

To them, he gave the right to become the children of God. There it is. Now we're talking relationship. Now we're talking family ties. We're not talking just being close by.

We're talking related now. And how did they get there? By accepting and embracing and welcoming Jesus Christ into their life personally. Children, he goes on to say, not born of natural descent. Parents don't have anything to do with this.

Who your mama was didn't have anything to do with this. Nor of human decision, nor of your husband's will, nor of anything else, but born by God. It's an act of God in a person's life. And friend, I'd like to say to you, if you're here this morning, and maybe you've been close by church your whole life, being close by doesn't mean being related. And nobody gets to heaven just because they were close by.

Judas didn't. You won't. You've got to be related. And related comes when we make a free will decision to embrace and welcome Jesus Christ into our life as our personal Savior. And I hope you've done that. May I also say to you, if you're already a Christian, God's not interested in you and me just being close by, but that we develop and we nurture that relationship with him, close by is not good enough.

He wants relationship. Okay, that's the first lesson. Second, here's the second, greed will get you every time. Greed will get you every time.

I mean, whatever else was wrong with Judas, we know for certain the Bible is clear that greed was a major problem in this guy's life. He was stealing from his friends. He was stealing from his teammates.

He was stealing from his boss. I mean, the guy was a greedy guy willing to sell out his friend and sell out his master for 30 lousy pieces of silver. Greed, that's all it is. And Jesus said to us, watch out for greed. Be on your guard against greed. Literally vaccinate yourself against greed because Jesus went on to say that all forms of greed, they will, they will damage a person's life. Jesus said a person's life consists of a lot more than just the stuff they own. It's a lot more than just what you own.

Friends, greed is so dangerous because it will drive us to make self-destructive choices that will ruin our life. I think of Aldrich Ames. I used him in the first service. I had a couple of people come up and go, we don't really know who he is, you know. He's the spy. You remember the spy dude that they chased for years here at the CIA and he was a mole and they finally were able to catch up with him and finally be able to pin him down. And part of what gave him away is on a $50,000 salary, he's driving red Jaguars into work, buying brand new homes out in Great Falls, drives a new Jaguar in the next week to work, has two of them.

Now, on a $50,000 government salary, usually you can't afford that stuff in this area, right? And they checked to see if he'd gotten any inheritances and anything like that and there was nothing that they could trace and they said, you know, maybe this is our guy. And they finally took him years to track him down, but they finally nailed the guy and he's in prison for the rest of his life. Now, I read the story of that guy in Newsweek magazine and, you know, he's a slug. I'm sorry, but he's a slug. The guy's a slug, friends.

I don't know a better word to describe him. Not only did he dishonor himself, not only did he disgrace his family, not only is he going to spend the rest of his life in jail, not only did he sell his country out, but if that wasn't bad enough, do you realize what he was doing? He was turning into the Russians the names of espionage agents in Russia that were giving information to the United States and the KGB was systematically killing every one of these guys whose name they got from Aldrich Ames. And we don't know for sure how many of them were killed.

There were at least a dozen, maybe more, of these men who had put their lives on the line to try to help us, and they're all gone. So on top of everything else he did, there are men that are dead because of this guy, there are women who are widows because of this guy, there are children who are orphans because of this guy, and you know what motivated him? Nothing but raw greed. That's all it was. One jaguar wasn't enough. He had to have two. A big house wasn't enough. He had to have a bigger house. One vacation to the Caribbean a year wasn't enough.

He had to have three or four. Greed. Simple greed. And you know, greed lives in our lives too. I mean, it's easy for us to say, oh, that horrible man, he's so greedy.

Hey, wait a minute. Greed is a part of the flesh and every one of us have got it. Every one of us. And greed will drive us to do things we never believed we were capable of if you let it run rampant in your life, my dear friend. It will rob you of your principles. It will destroy your integrity.

It will violate your morals and turn your ethics into a joke. It'll steal your soul. And the thing that makes greed so tough is it's such a slippery little thing. It's such a slimy little thing.

It'll hide behind every justification, every excuse that you've ever come up with. I love what St. Francis of Assisi, the great missionary, said. He said, people have confessed to me every sin known to man except the sin of greed. Never had anybody walk in and go, my sin is greed. You know why?

Because it's such a slimy little thing. I was up at the Orioles game. I took my son John up there a few weeks ago.

He's my 10-year-old. And we always get there early for batting practice because this is like personal, this is like gladiator, American gladiator competition to see if we can get a ball for batting practice. I mean, you're probably not wired that way, but I am. So I go up early and I go to my spot and I start working the players. And you've got to know how to do this. This is an art form.

It really is. And you work the players and you even work the maintenance crew to get them to throw balls up to you. Occasionally you catch one, but most of them you get by working the players. And I've gotten to be fairly good at this. I mean, I've got a big old box of American League balls at home, but it doesn't matter how many I have at home, I want more.

I mean, every game is a new challenge. So we had gone up and we had gotten three. We had three.

I had one in one pocket, one in the other pocket, and I didn't have a pocket for the third one. And Jonathan says to me, why don't we take one of these balls and give it to the person standing next to you, Dad, who hasn't gotten any balls? This is when batting practice was over. And my first thought was, no way.

No way. I mean, I'm going to have laryngitis for three days after what I've been through for two hours working these guys for these baseballs. I'm not giving some baseball to this guy.

He had as much chance as I had. This is what I'm thinking on the inside. And then it's like God said to me, what is wrong with you? What is wrong with you?

I mean, you've got more balls. You don't even have pockets to put them all in. You've got a box of them home.

You don't even know what to do with all of them. What is wrong with you? And I went, oh, oh, yeah, thanks. I needed that. Oh, okay, I'm out now, Lord. I snapped out.

Okay, sure, John, that's a great idea. So he gave the ball away and felt great about it. But what was my problem? Let me hear you say it. Greed.

Thank you very much. Greed, that's right. Pure, simple, unadulterated, slimy greed. I had two balls. I wanted three. If I'd have had three, I'd have wanted four.

It's just greed. Well, you know what? You got that too.

Yes, you do. And it'll hide under all kinds of little rocks and excuses in your life, but it's there and it's real. And you know what? Judas' life is a fabulous warning for us to stay on top of it and guard our lives against it because, friends, greed will drive us to do things. As Paul said in 1 Timothy 6, many people wanting to get rich have fallen into many foolish and harmful lusts that have destroyed their lives. Is that true of Judas? You bet. Okay, third and final lesson, and that is that when the world offers you something that glitters, it's not gold.

Got that? When the world offers you something that glitters, it's not gold. I mean, look at how the world applauded Judas. Look at what a hero he was with the world. I mean, he went to the rabbis, and didn't it say in Luke 22? They were delighted. They were thrilled.

They probably hailed him as a hero, patted him on the back, offered him a cigar, sang three rounds of for he's a jolly good fellow in Hebrew or whatever, you know, for him. I mean, he was a hero with the world, and if the story had ended there, we'd have said, well, he sure made the right decision. But see, the story didn't end there, did it?

No. The story ends with a hangman's noose and a suicide and a self-destructive life. And you know what Judas learned about the world's offer of glitter? He learned it's like Snow White's apple.

It looks great on the outside, but man, it's deadly when you bite it. And when we sell our soul, when we forsake Jesus Christ to grab a hold of what the world is offering us, its rewards, its approvals, man, we always live to regret that. Think of the glitter kings and queens of the world. You know, the Elvis Presleys and the Marilyn Monroe's, the John Belushi's, the Vince Foster's, people who sold their soul for what the world was offering them. I mean, was their life satisfying? Are they living happy, fulfilled lives? No, most of these people are dead. In fact, all of these people are dead that I named for you, and most of them took their own life. Friend, people who go after the world's glitter end up singing the song, Is This All There Is?

But compare the apostle Paul, reviled by the world, hated by the world, no glitter that the world had to give, but he ended his life by saying, I ran the race, I finished the course, I kept the faith, and now I've got a crown laid up in heaven that God's going to give me when I get there. I mean, isn't that a whole lot better way to finish? When I was in high school, most of you all went to high school, didn't you?

Yeah, okay. Well, when I was in high school, do you remember high school English? I mean, is high school English the worst or what? When I think of high school English, I think of what Paul Simon said when he said, after all the junk they taught me in high school, it's a wonder I can think at all.

And that's kind of how I feel about it. But do you remember all that stuff you had to read in high school English? Was that horrible? Was that the most irrelevant junk that you ever read in your whole life? I mean, think now. What is some of the stuff you read that is incredibly irrelevant to everything else in the world? How about this one, Beowulf?

Now, is that irrelevant or what? How about anything by Shakespeare? Okay, I agree. How about Wuthering Heights? How about The Great Gatsby? Was that terrible or what? I mean, this is horrible stuff, but you have to read it. Now, I'll tell you another one. Did any of you people have to read The Odyssey?

Yeah, all right. Well, that's another one. But, you know, there was one little piece in The Odyssey that kind of is interesting. You remember when Odysseus was sailing home and the sirens were over on the island and they were singing their song trying to draw the sailors over?

You remember that? And if the sailors would listen, they were absolutely unable to resist. No man could resist their call. And they would sing something like, come over here, come over here. I don't know what they would sing, something. And the men would go, oh, okay, okay, okay. And they would all go over, and then this big old monster would come out to sea and just eat them all up. Remember that?

Okay. Well, you remember how Odysseus beat that? What did he do? He took wax.

See, some of you did read this. And he put it in their ears, tied himself to the post after he'd put it to their ears and said, don't untie me for any reason. And he put wax in their ears, and they sailed right on by and never even heard it. Huh? And I got to thinking when I was reading this passage, you know, when the world calls to us and says, come on over here, Judas, come on over here.

We got all kinds of neat stuff for you. That's when we need to take the Word of God, and we need to use it like wax, huh? We need to put it in our ears and say, sorry, we don't hear you.

Sorry, we can't hear a thing. And sail right on by and say, no, I'm serving Jesus Christ. I'm headed home.

Home is heaven for me. I don't have time for any kind of side trip over to see you. And just completely pay no attention.

Friend, that's what we need to do. I'm telling you. I'm telling you. The world's allure is like a siren call. All of us have a flesh, and the world knows how to appeal to it. That's why one of the reasons God gave us the Word of God is to use like wax.

And even if you got to tear the papers out and stuff them in your ear literally, don't go over there. There's nothing but monsters going to eat you up and self-destruct your life. That's what Judas found out. Just let the world's glitter go right on by. I read a quote, and I'm going to end with this.

I love this quote. Here's what it said. It said, when you were born, you cried and the world rejoiced.

Right? Mama was so happy. Daddy was happy. And you were miserable.

Now, here. Live your life in such a way that when you die, the world will cry because you were so valuable they hate to see you go. And you will rejoice. Is that a great quote? Live your life in such a way that when you die, the world cries and you rejoice. Friends, how do you do that?

Well, you do it by not paying a bit of attention to what the world's offering you. You stick with Jesus Christ. And I love what Proverbs 10 says, even the memory of a righteous person is a blessing. Leave that kind of memory behind. Well, I hope these are helpful to you, and I hope you'll take them to heart. Hey, number one, you got to be related.

Being close by is not good enough. Number two, greed will get you every time. Now for that slimy little animal.

And number three, the world's glitter is not gold. Stay away from it. Let's pray. Heavenly Father, thank you so much for the word of God that reminds us of basic truths for living that will help us live successfully. And Father, help us learn from the example of Judas who lived so unsuccessfully.

Help us to take stock of what he did wrong so that we don't repeat it. And I want to pray, Father, for every one of us here that we would leave here this morning having had our life challenged and even changed by our contact with the word of God. Lord, take the word of God and transform our life and insulate us against those forces that would end us up on the rocks like Judas ended up as we seek to follow you with our lives. And we pray this in Jesus' name. Amen. .
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-12-05 08:57:03 / 2023-12-05 09:10:43 / 14

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