Text: John 18.1-9
CIT: Judas probably went down a path that led to his destruction, causing him to lose his awe of God.
CIS: We want to be careful to not lose our awe.
Introduction: We begin a new series, The Lord’s Passion: Characters on the way to the Cross. My goal is to take you on a journey with me to the Cross. Mostly, to be honest, my prayer is that you will see Jesus like you’ve never seen him before: That your awe of him would be rekindled. The purpose for looking at the characters isn’t to glorify them in any way, but rather to give you another glimpse of God’s grace. Maybe you’ll see yourself or a part of yourself in that character and be able to turn that over to Him through repentance and commitment to obedience. Maybe, you’ll see something you despise about yourself and you’ll fall on his mercy for protection and change. Maybe, you’ll see something you like – not to make you arrogant and cocky, but rather to humble you and pray that strength in you will be something God can glorify himself through.
Today, we begin with Judas. I’ve chosen Judas because his name is mentioned twice in the next passage. rd Jn 18.1-9;
The only joke I know about Judas Iscariot goes like this: A minister riding a streetcar in N.Y. and passing a very nice church, sat next to a rider who said, “If these Christians would stop building fine churches and give their money to the poor, it would be much more to their credit.”
“I’ve heard of similar remark before,” was the minister’s quiet reply.
“By whom?” Asked the man.
It isn’t really a joke, is it? Most of us cringed and let out an ‘ooo’ instead. That’s because to be referred to as Judas or a Judas isn’t flattering is it? Judas is a bad name, because Judas was a bad character. But was he always that way?
His name comes from two possible areas:
a. the town in which he probably lived and was raised. Joshua 15.25: 25 Hazor-hadattah, Kerioth-hezron (that is, Hazor),; so he was from the tribe of Judah; his dad’s name was Simon, a fairly popular name (John 6.71: 71 He spoke of Judas the son of Simon Iscariot, for he, one of the Twelve, was going to betray him).
b. it could be taken from the Latin word sicarius which means assassin. If so, then both Judas and his dad were patriots or zealots. I think it is his town of origin.
So, what was his responsibility? A couple of things come to mind.
1st, Judas was the treasurer. He kept the money bag. How he got that job isn’t made known, but that he had that job is evident. Jn 13.29 – 29 Some thought that, because Judas had the moneybag, Jesus was telling him, “Buy what we need for the feast,” or that he should give something to the poor. We see the same thing in Jn 12.6;
2nd, Judas carried a sword. Lk 22.38 informs us that their were two swords in the group. Also, we’ll read in a few verses that Peter had one of those swords (v 10). I couldn’t find it this week, but I read somewhere in my studies that Judas had the other sword.
So, where did he go wrong? Somewhere along the way, Judas took his eyes off of people and put them on things. Read John 12.1; this is the week before the Passover. So, we’d have to go back even before this to find out what happened. Let’s continue on; rd v 2-7; wow, that’s a lot of money! 10 months wages! Look at Mary and her perspective of Jesus. Then compare Judas’ perspective. She is in awe of the Master. He is in awe of what he sees as waste. For him, money is more important than ministry. He even uses ministry as a reason for why the money should have been collected. Sold and given to the poor
Here’s the application: I think if Judas was looking at Jesus and not the Jar he would have done better. Mary is in a state of awe. She is in Awe of the Master. She has something that Judas used to have, but lost somewhere along the way. He lost his awe. What made him want to follow Jesus? What made him stand in total amazement with the master? He had become so familiar with Jesus, that Jesus no longer kept his awe. Just hours before this story, Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead! Now, that should have moved Judas to a state of awe! Why didn’t it? How did Judas lose his awe?
I’d like to share with you a message I shared with the New Member’s Class – only to demonstrate what has happened to Judas. The following is taken from Dr. Paul Tripp. He has a series of blogs on The Gospel Coalition website and has authored many books. Hebrews 3.1-13: rd v 1-6: that’s awe! Look at the call: hold fast our confidence and our hope. Then, he exhorts them to not harden their hearts; rd 7-11; Now, here is the Warning: Βλέπετε; Watch out! A four step warning that you don’t find a heart (lit. Gk):
- Evil – step 1; this is the thought that enters your heart; I’ll keep the money bag so that I’ll be able to tap into it and get something for myself. A candy bar? At first, it’s small. Then, maybe it get’s bigger.
- Without faith – Step 2; this is where you lie to yourself about what God says. God’s word says: don’t steal and you think, this is how we survive, it’s a community bag, I’m not really stealing. It’s only a candy bar. Really, it’s only a candy bar! But it’s your heart that we’re talking about. Next it’s a book and then it’s a car, and then it’s a mansion on Malibu Beach! All of this rejection and disbelief of God at His Word just takes you farther and farther away from him. That’s the 3rd step in the progression.
- Falling away (departing) from God – Step 3; you’ve drifted from God. Your rope of faith, anchored securely to the pier of the Word of God, has been severed. Maybe you willingly cut it. You thought you’d drift out into the bay where you can still see port, but now you can’t even see the island!
- Hardened – Step 4 and you’re heart is hardened! You’re drifting alone – not even sure how to get back home. The odd thing about Judas, is that it isn’t even about the money anymore. He’s willing to betray the Savior for 30 lousy pieces of silver.
Now, before we go any further, let me ask you a question: Who does v. 12 say AH is writing to: Christians! He’s talking to you and me. He’s not talking about Apostasy. He’s talking about believers! Now, what does he say you need to do to ensure that none of this takes place? But exhort one another – so that none of you may be hardened like Judas.
app.: Where are you in the progression?
- Maybe you’re battling Satan right now. He’s doing his best to fill your thoughts with sinful actions. And you’re fending him off.
- Or maybe he’s trying to tell you that what you’ve done is really ok – it’s not that bad. Your anger and fits of rage are all justified because you’re the Dad or because you’re right, or you’re the boss.
- Or, maybe, just maybe you’re struggle is that you’ve been drifting. You’ve convinced yourself that you can survive out here on your own. You come here to church and live an isolated existence because you don’t want anyone to know you’ve fallen away. Listen, your wife knows. Your kids know. Your husband knows. Your parents know. Your friends know.
Isn’t it funny that we can spot sin in someone’s life at the drop of a hat, but we’re oblivious to our own? At least we try to be. Listen, we need one another. But exhort one another. I need you to look into my life and protect me from… what does it say… the deceitfulness of sin – so that I won’t get a hard heart. I need you to speak truth in love into my life. And, you need each other.
Now, how often do we need to exhort one another? But exhort one another every Sunday! No, every day, as long as it is called ‘today’… Is this day yesterday? Is it tomorrow? No, it’s today!
Let’s go back to the question: how does someone lose his or her awe? How does someone see Jesus raise the dead, feed thousands with scraps, turn water to wine, heal lepers, the blind, the lame, the sick, the dying and then walk away from him? How does someone sit and dine with the Master, and sit at his feet and listen to him explain the Scriptures in the simplest of terms, And, then, lose that sense of Awe? Well, lets review a couple of possible explanations:
- Money over ministry, even with the excuse of using money for ministry.
- Possessions over people; especially when these things will be available to us.
- Expectations over experience; it’s possible that Judas thought he’d be a grand leader in the new regime. His experience put him sleeping with a rock for a pillow and the ground for a mattress. He thought he’d be in a palace by now and the Romans would be gone. Seeing that Christ’s Kingdom would not be all that Judas had expected, he now turns state’s evidence to hand Jesus over, thus saving his own skin. Or, maybe he thought the kingdom was coming, but this revolution needed a kick-start. I wonder if there was some excitement at Peter’s drawing the sword and swinging it at Malcus? Whatever happened, Judas was now disappointed because his expectations were never met.
So, what are some steps that we can take to get our sense of awe back?
- Humility: Listen to Tripp: There is nothing like standing without defense before the awesome glory of God to put you in your place, correct a distorted view of yourself, yank you out of functional arrogance, and take the winds out of the sails of your self-righteousness. In the face of his glory I am left naked with no glory whatsoever left to hold before myself or anyone else. As long as I am comparing myself to others I can always find someone whose existence seems to make me look righteous by comparison. But if I compare my filthy rags to the pure and forever unstained linen of God’s righteousness, I want to run and hide in heart-breaking shame. Luke 5.1-8; His comment shows that he see Jesus in awe and himself in ruin. The Call: Humble yourselves in the sight of the LORD.
- Obedience: Phil 2.5-11 tells us that Jesus humbled himself (Humility) and became obedient unto death. For us, to be like Jesus means, in the deepest of humility, to obey God’s commands. It’s time to stop making excuses for our disobedience.
- Is there a sin in your life that God is strongly convicting you about, but you’ve refused to obey? You’re drifting out to sea and you probably don’t even know it. Are you justifying yourself and your actions so as to not have to deal with obedience?
- Is there a command you’ve not been faithful to obey? Disobedience still requires repentance.
Of all the words recorded coming from the mouth of Judas, never once does he call Jesus Lord. The closest he comes is at the moment of his betrayal – Judas calls Jesus rabbi.
3. God’s Word: One way to get a sense of awe back is to immerse yourself in God’s Word.
I have no 3 step program to conjure of the awe of God in your life. I wish I did. I’d use it myself. What I do know is that these three steps above help me get into a place where I can sense the awe of God. Humble myself before him, confess my sins and be obedient to him in every way. And, His Word takes me there; Psalm 145:1-9
- (Adam & Eve) When I had done exactly what he told me not to do. When I ate of that fruit and disobeyed. I stood there naked and ashamed and hiding. But you searched for me and you called out to me. He still loved me and covered my shame.
- (David & Goliath) When I stood on a hill too ashamed to take on my enemy, who loomed like a giant and mocked my God. Jesus, you showed up and picked some stones from the river bed and used your slingshot to slay my enemy. You, ran and took the battle to him.
- (Elijah) When I was depressed and lonely in the wilderness, you provided water and food for me.
- (Ai) When I had rejected your word and was defeated, I confessed my sin to you and you forgave me and you then went before me and defeated my enemy.
- (Red Sea) When my enemy was racing toward me and I had no escape; water behind me and mountains on ever other side, you parted the waters and made a way for me to escape.
- (Peace be still) When the storms raged upon the sea and the water was overtaking my boat, you came to me and spoke peace to my storm and the wind and the waves obeyed.
- (Woman caught in adultery) When I stood before you, condemned of adultery and deserving death, my enemies stood there with stones in their hands, the very instruments that would end my life, but you stepped in between them and me and you saved me and forgave me.
- (Prodigal Son) When I had rejected your plan for me, and pestered you to give me my inheritance, so that I might enjoy my life the way I wanted – you waited for me patiently. And when I came to my senses, I thought I could come to you and beg for your forgiveness, to beg for you to let me be one of your servants. But you were waiting for me, watching so patiently. And when you saw me coming from a far way off, you ran to me. Before I could even present my prepared speech, you told me you loved me and you put a robe on my back and a ring on my hand and prepared the most glorious celebration and welcomed me home as a son.
- me: When I was dead in my sin, your promise to me was life – and I trusted you, I believed you and surrendered my life to you and you gave me life everlasting!
- Me: when I was distressed and depressed from suffering, I laid myself at his feet in resignation. You picked me up and held me close, You quieted me with his love, and You exulted over me with his singing.
Transition: Read Psalm 145.10-21
Transition: Yes, the Lord is good and merciful. My mouth will speak the praise of the Lord,
and let all flesh bless his holy name forever and ever.
I wonder if Judas started out on the right track. Sure, he struggled with bad thoughts about money and power, but for the most part, did he want to do the right thing? Or, was his zealousness for the freedom of Israel? Did he see in Jesus possibilities, but wanted his own and not what Jesus wanted?
Observations & Implications: What happens when we lose our awe of God?
- We try to make things happen ourselves instead of waiting on God.
- We put our focus on temporary things: money over ministry, possessions over people, expectations over experience.
- We refuse humility and obedience. We’re just aren’t like Jesus.
- We neglect the Word of God. We go days and days without a word from Him.
- We forget all that God has done.