The next in a series of messages looking at the original 12 disciples of Jesus under the general heading of –
“How God uses the average to achieve the amazing.”
The service will also include communion.
History often remembers some people for one thing, this being very much the case when it comes to Judas Iscariot whose name is always last on the list of disciples, accompanied by that one thing – “who betrayed him” (Mark 3 v 19); an act that the church is never allowed to forget (1 Corinthians 11 v 23.)
So what do we know about Judas?
- He was the only one of Jesus’ disciples not to originate from Galilee.
- His call to follow Jesus is not recorded in the Bible, but while he gave himself to following Jesus, he never really gave himself to Jesus, with the highest title he ever gave him being “teacher” (Matthew 26 v 25.)
- He was the treasurer for the group of disciples (John 12v 6) often helping himself to the contents of the common purse.
- Unable to cope with his guilt, and overcome by remorse, but not repentance, he took his own life (Matthew 27 v 5) and was eventually replaced by Matthias (Acts 1 v 15 – 26.) Not that he was the only Biblical character to commit suicide, an identical choice was made by King Saul (1 Samuel 31 v 4); royal advisor Ahithophel (2 Samuel 17 v 23); King Zimri (1 Kings 16 v 18); while the Philippian jailor had a near miss (Acts 16 v 27.)
But the one thing that earned Judas notoriety was not his suicide, but his betrayal, something which Jesus was aware of from the word go (John 6 v 70.) It seemed to stem from his disillusionment that Jesus was not the type of Messiah that he had been expecting. This was compounded when Jesus sided with Mary and not him as she extravagantly anointed his feet with expensive perfume (John 12 v 1 – 8.) This argument over money prompted him to go to the religious leaders where he received payment to betray Jesus; before finally Satan took control of him (John 13 v 2 & 27) and in the quietness of Gethsemane he identified Jesus with a treacherous kiss (Matthew 26 v 49) enabling him to be arrested, interrogated and condemned to death, even death on a cross.
Did Judas have a choice when it came to betraying Jesus, or was he merely a puppet?
The Bible holds these seemingly polar opposites in balanced tension, because on the one hand Judas was foreordained and chosen to betray Jesus as prophesied in the Old Testament (Psalm 41 v 9); while on the other hand he acted freely (Mark 14 v 11) and was responsible for his own actions. All of which resulted in God’s plan, and Judas’ evil deed, collaborating in perfect harmony.
What lesson can be learned from the tragic life of Judas Iscariot?
Surely it is that we need to beware of wasted opportunities. Jesus referred to Judas as – “the son of perdition” (John 17 v 12) which literally translates “son of waste.” Having spent time in the company of Jesus; having heard his word; Judas had many an opportunity to trust in Jesus, but he spurned them all, choosing instead a doomed and damned eternity.
So his life stands as a warning against wasted opportunity, for even today it is still possible to spend time with Jesus in church, hear his word, and yet despite such privileges to have a heart that is hardened towards God and misses the opportunity of his invitation to salvation (Matthew 7 v 21.)
Challenge – Today for you could well be the day of salvation. Will you waste the opportunity?
Theme: “Beware of missed opportunities”
Reading: Matthew 26v 14 – 16 & 47 – 50
Preacher: Chris Hughes
Led by: Chris Hughes