Monday, March 28, 2016

#SSVBlogEasterSeries: What went wrong with Judas and what can we learn from him?

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Judas Iscariot is undeniably a major character in the story of Easter; we know how the whole story of Jesus' betrayal, arrest, death and resurrection unfolded.

Here, we won't focus on the betrayal story, but instead try and understand what happened to Judas that led to him betraying his master. And more importantly, what lessons can be drawn from it.

First, let’s paint a proper picture of who Judas Iscariot was.

Judas was one of the original twelve disciples who Jesus handpicked for His ministry (Matthew 10:2-4). They walked, and worked, closely with Him (Matthew 21:1-3, John 6:21); went to virtually everywhere together, they had left all to follow Him (Matthew 19:27), witnessed Him perform miracles – healed the sick (Matthew 12:15), fed the crowd (John 6:1-14), raised dead people (Mark 5:35-42), restored sight to the blind (Matthew 21:14) – he (along with the other eleven) witnessed all that in real time (Mark 4:35-41)! They were given special assignments to proclaim God's word and perform miracles, too (Mark 3:13-15).

Also, he transitioned with the others from disciple (student) to apostle (missionaries or as Amplified Bible puts it “special messengers”), see Matthew 10:2.
So, what went wrong? Remains our question. Where did the cookie crumble? Let's try and answer that, shall we?

I think our answer lies in Matthew 26:14-15 where Judas met with the chief priests on Jesus' betrayal.

"Then one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, "What are you willing to give me if I deliver Him to you?" (Matthew 26:14-15).

Using this text, let's see how we could answer the question.

He allowed sin enter his heart
One Scripture that keeps me on my toes is Genesis 4:7 where God, speaking to Cain after his offering had been rejected and he was downcast and angry, warned: "...And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you..." This is so instructive! Sin's desire is to have you and it lies at the door of our heart; which is why we are admonished to "Keep your heart with all diligence..." (Proverbs 4:23).

We understand from Scripture that sin doesn't necessarily mature instantly; it grows from [unchecked] lust - desire, longing, urge - to birthing sin, and eventually death (James 1:14-15).
In Judas' case, he must have pictured what he could get from betraying Jesus. He must have thought, "I could make some real money here". He fanned the fire of that thought till it overwhelmed him, to the point that the devil entered him (John 13:27), and "Then one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, "What are you willing to give me if I deliver Him to you?"

Apostle Paul noted in Galatians 5:17 that the flesh (which represents sin) and spirit (God's spirit in man) are always battling for control in us. The Holy Spirit will always nudge us in the right direction. When He notices we're veering off track, He'd warn, "sin lies at your door and its desire is to have you".

Indeed, sin lies in wait like a hungry lion looking for prey. We can't let our guard down. Let's constantly check and lay ourselves bare before the Holy Spirit to prune us! Check your desires, the things you long for, the cravings, things that occupy you - unchecked lust will birth sin. Nip it in the bud and not give the devil a chance!

His love for money superseded his love for Christ
Put simply, Judas was a greedy fella. He was a thief, too (John 12:3).
Here's what he said again, "What are you willing to GIVE ME if I deliver Him to you?" We could rephrase that as 'How much will I get if I deliver Him to you?' There you have it, he was thinking about himself alone - greed! If you ever get to the point that you love and lust for money, there would be no limit, I mean no limit, to what you can do for money, including betraying Jesus like Judas!

Because indeed, "The LOVE of money is the root of ALL KINDS OF EVIL" (1 Timothy 6:10). Lovers of money are among those given "...over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; being filled with all unrighteousness... covetousness... strife... inventors of evil things" (Romans 1:28-32).

I hear you! I can hear your thoughts, yes you. I hear you say 'this dude doesn't know what's he's talking about'. Don't get me wrong, money is important and having money is not sin (again see Abraham, Job; now add Isaac, old testament's Joseph, Lot). The world's economies runs on money, so we can't run from that. It is a problem when making money for yourself becomes the central focus of your life! When making money becomes your only driven. That is where the problem lies, brother. The love of money makes you see everything through the eyes of "profit maximization", that's when you say things like 'if it's not making money, it's not making sense'.

For Judas, money became his drive, his motivation, his god and that's a dangerous place to be.

And it wasn't that he desperately needed the money for some problems he had; it was pure greed, we can see that from scripture. Matthew 27:3-5 says that Judas "seeing that He [Jesus] had been condemned, was remorseful and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, 'I have sinned by betraying innocent blood." He then "...threw down the pieces of silver in the temple and departed and went and hanged himself." The same thirty pieces of silver that seemed like the world to him at some point. He just loved money more than he loved Jesus!

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He was a "church goer"
Many "Christians" (I'm tempted to call them church goers, too) are like Judas. They've in that church where the Word is taught with power and authority, where there has been many testimonies of changed lives through the Word, where many have discovered purpose, and literally gone from grass to grace because of the Word, yet God's Word has not taken root in them!

How much revelation of God through His Word have you got for yourself? Not just what is taught on Sundays or at midweek bible study, but how much of it you've understood, cultivated and imbibed. No, not how many Scripture you can't cite word-for-word off hand, but how many have become reality in your life!

Judas, after about three years with Jesus, still asked 'what are you willing to give me?' After all the countless teachings, sermons and practical examples from the master Himself!
Christ had taught, preached and shown practical examples of giving, charity, putting others first, loving God and the likes, yet they didn't take root in him.

Judas didn't grow in the Word, and that's the dangerous path many tread today. When you fail to grow in the knowledge of God's Word, you'll be vulnerable to the devil, and definitely your strength will fail you in the day of battle (Proverbs 24:10). When Christ was tempted, He responded with the Word, go for the Word!

PS: #SSVBlogEasterSeries is a series of posts to mark this year's Easter. This is the second post in the series, [here's the other]. Have a great Easter! Remember, loving like Jesus is the reason for the season. Shalom!
All Scripture taken from NKJV.

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