08 June 2014

AND IT WAS NIGHT


John 13:18-35

Night time usually brings out the worst kinds of people……I remember as a kid growing up, watching my dad as he strap his police gun belt around his waist to go out for another long night to serve and protect! I remember he used to say to me before heading out in his police car “it’s a dark and hot out there which means, all the wacko’s will be out tonight, so stay indoors for mother”. Now my dad knew, and we know, that isn't always true or the case when its hot and dark out…...but we can all agree, their usually a greater evil that presents itself more freely in the darkness. But think about this for a moment as it pertains to the scriptures. DARKNESS in its proper context usually represents unbelief, sin, and evil according to the bible. Which usually is associated with death, ignorance, and those things which are sinful and bad; it describes hard or stiff-necked hearts which is an accusing, justifying, unchildlike attitude when being corrected from God’s Word. Darkness represents all that is contrary to light and God’s truth. As Prov 4:19 says “The way of the wicked is like darkness; They do not know what makes them stumble.” Jesus even said in Matthew 6:23 “But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is that darkness!” Remember Jesus is the ONLY Light which drives out darkness…drives out sin and death. Jesus said "I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life." John 8:12.

If a person does not have Jesus, who is Life and light to humanity, then he or she is in darkness. John describes this passage of the Upper Room Discourse with such detail. What do I mean? John writes and reminds us “and it was night” Why does the time of day matter to the reader? Not only was it physically night time helping us to understand it was in the evening when all this took place in the upper room…..but the description of the time of day also helps us to understand the spiritual state of one man in the upper room. This man Judas Iscariot would betray the One who loved Him to death on a cross. It’s sad to think that this man would be in complete darkness for all eternity. It’s sad to think that this man would never again wake up to the sunshine. It’s sad to think that this man would be forever be in torment for the foolish choices he made. It’s sad to think that this man would never have the opportunity to repent and be restored to God. We really need to stop and think!  What drew a man to such a humiliating end? I want you to think of not just Judas here…… but maybe someone you know or knew who felt like Judas and lost everything in the end. Because as John wrote earlier in his gospel “They love darkness rather than light” What hatred drew this man away from God’s mercy and grace? What hatred drew this man to take his own life over the forgiveness found in Christ?

I think before we can answer those questions we need to understand who Judas was! Who was Judas and what was he like? His name is a form of Judah, his name means “Jehovah leads” that’s sad! Maybe his parents had great hopes for his future. It’s interesting that he was the only disciple that didn’t come from Galilee. Historically he was probably a young, zealous and patriotic Jew, who didn’t want the Romans to rule over them. He obviously was intelligent enough to recognize that Jesus had powers like no other man. He was a man who had no real or genuine attraction to Christ or spiritual things. He was selfish man who desired wealth and power…..maybe that’s what keep him following Jesus. He wanted what Jesus had when it came to power and popularity. We know according to the scriptures Judas was ordained before the foundation of the world to betray Christ. Psalm 55:12-13 says “For it is not an enemy who reproaches me; Then I could bear it. Nor is it one who hates me who has exalted himself against me; Then I could hide from him. But it was you, a man my equal, My companion and my acquaintance.”

Zechariah 11:12-13 we read “Then I said to them, "If it is agreeable to you, give me my wages; and if not, refrain." So they weighed out for my wages thirty pieces of silver. And the LORD said to me, "Throw it to the potter"—that princely price they set on me. So I took the thirty pieces of silver and threw them into the house of the LORD for the potter.” King David was the first to predict that someone would betray the Messiah. David said “Even My own familiar friend in whom I trusted, Who ate My bread, Has lifted up his heel against Me.” Psalm 41:9.

Was it because……..
  • He was abused as a child and never knew what love truly was?
  • He failed as a business man?
  • He was in an unsalvageable relationship or marriage?
  • He suffered great disappointment in life?
  • He couldn’t handle the pressures of life?

Whatever it was………we can conclude it steamed from a heart filled with hatred and a rejection to the truth of the gospel. As the Apostle Paul said “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.” Rom 1:18. Paul even went on to say “For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools,” Romans 1:21-22. Judas was a prime example of this verse that Paul penned; claiming to have it all together by his own ignorant heart they [he] becomes a fools

“fools” unlike our English term is not a fun-loving clown but an ungodly man or woman. This behaviour doesn’t invite laughs, but pity and punishment. Again like I’ve said many times…there are to two phrases I never want to hear from our Lord Jesus “depart from me I never knew you” in Matthew’s gospel, and “Fool! This night your soul will be required of you;….” Luke 12:20. Judas stands as a in your face warning about the evil potential of spiritual carelessness.The unceasing love and patience of God and the squandered opportunities to be receptive to His mercy and grace. The prime example of what wrong choices, sinful lusts and hardness of heart leads too. There are some things we can learn from this scene in the upperoom with His disciples.

HOW NEAR A PERSON CAN BE TO CHRIST AND ASSOCIATE WITH HIM THROUGH HIS CHILDREN SUPERFICIALLY.

Think about…….Judas was present in many occasions of Jesus performing the miracles that only we can read about. Sadly most of the time when Jesus did something amazing and mind blowing or showed and demonstrated His love for fallen sinners……Judas would say something like this “Why was this fragrant oil not sold for 300 denarii and given to the poor? This he said, not that he cared for the poor, but because he was a thief and had the money box; and he used to take what was put in it” John 12:4-6. As one writer said “He did not care about the poor. He was a hard-hearted man, too concerned with feathering his own nest while others, less fortunate, suffered around him.”

See we need to understand………Judas wasn’t a man who was coerced into doing what he did. There was no invisible hand forcing him to betray Christ, he acted freely without any external compulsion, which makes him responsible for his own actions and sin. See, Judas’s heart was evil; which is a reminder to all of us about the natural man and woman of any generation who are dead in their trespasses and sin. What a reminder for us as God’s children! It’s the power and prompting of God to remove the deaf ears, give sight to the blind and resurrect the dead. Judas demonstrates to us the natural man who wants nothing to do Christ! Why? He hates the gospel and most of all the God of the gospel. We can go through the motions, attend church and bible studies and never truly be converted by the power of God. We can easily play the game in fooling our parents or friends, to make them feel you’re saved, so they get off your back about the issue. We can even deceive ourselves to thinking I’ve accepted Jesus, but it’s like I’ve said before! “You may know Jesus, but does Jesus know you?” Do we have Judas’ in our churches today? Yes. My question for some of you is……..Does your life exemplify Judas or Christ? Is it genuine or superficial?

NO MATTER HOW SELFISH AND SINFUL YOUR PLANS ARE TO OPPOSE GOD, THEY WILL NEVER BE ABLE TO STOP THE PURPOSES OF GOD.

Even His own disciples were blinded to Judas’s betrayal, reason God allowed this happen. (v21-v29). If you go back a few chapters you would see Jesus already warned them about the betrayer! In John 6:70-71 we read “Jesus answered them, "Did I not choose you, the twelve, and one of you is a devil?" He spoke of Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon, for it was he who would betray Him, being one of the twelve.” No matter what scheme Judas was trying to achieve it would never stop the sovereign God of the universe to fulfill His plan and purposes for His glory. As Isaiah wrote "For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways," says the LORD. "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts.” Isa 55:8-9. According to the scriptures this was God’s plan all along when it came to betrayer…………Judas fulfilled his part. Sadly what Judas didn’t see through His scheming, is that Jesus had to be handed over to the officials and die. This had to happen for redemption to even become an eternal promise for sinners like you and me….and even Judas. Christ had to be handed over for the fulfillment of God’s perfect plan to save us from the life choices like Judas. In all honesty Judas was doing his part to fulfill a greater purpose….SALVATION FOR LOST SINNERS. That’s why we read that Jesus had to be handed over numerous times throughout the gospels that lead to His arrest and betrayal by Judas. In Mark 8:31 we read “And He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again.” Someone had to betray the Lord, and that betrayer just so happened to be Judas Iscariot.

NO MATTER HOW WICKED AND SINFUL WE ARE OR BECOME, CHRIST HAS UNCEASING LOVE AND DESIRES THAT WE REPENT AND FOLLOW HIM.

Judas had ever opportunity from the foot washing, to Jesus giving him the piece of bread to stop and say “Lord forgive me a sinful man.” That’s grace isn't it? The lowest of low having an opportunity to turn from their wicked ways and genuinely repenting to a holy God whose cup overflows with love for fallen sinners. There are many Judas’s around the globe today…even possibly in this church or someone you know personally whether they are close to you or distant to you. In order to be truly saved by this unceasing grace……….The Holy Spirit has to be the one to call you out of darkness though the finishing works of the cross. That’s why I find it very interesting that after Jesus washed the disciple’s feet [including Judas] but waited until after Judas left the Upper Room to go get ready to betray Christ. That Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper….another prime example that this privilege is only for true believers in Christ……not the Judas’ of the world. He is calling out to sinners to repent and be restored to an eternal relationship with a holy God. A God who gave Judas every opportunity to repent and stop what his natural heart desired to do. Do you know that Jesus even loved Judas when he betrayed Him with a kiss. In Matt 26:48-50 we read “Now His betrayer had given them a sign, saying, "Whomever I kiss, He is the One; seize Him." Immediately he went up to Jesus and said, "Greetings, Rabbi!" and kissed Him. But Jesus said to him, "Friend, why have you come?" Then they came and laid hands on Jesus and took Him.” He called Judas “friend” giving him yet another opportunity to repent of his wickedness. Jesus had always used him as his friend, his familiar friend, who had been of his councils, and had eaten, at his table. This simple act carried in it something that would be very cutting to a child of God. Sadly though Judas had no conscience, or sense of gratitude, because he sold his soul to the devil for 30 pieces of silver.

Judas had the privilege to be one of the twelve closet followers. The dark and tragic story of Judas reveals to us the depths of evil the human heart is capable of.

Again!
  • You can attend church all your life.
  • You can say all the right things or words.
  • You can even fool your family and friends but you will never be able to fool a sovereign God who knows everything! Yes, everything.
  • A person can go through his whole life professing Jesus as Lord and still end up having a tragic story like Judas.

Only because they love darkness rather than light! If this is you! I plead with you to examine your life in light of God’s word and heed the warning signs of this tragic story of a man named Judas who sold his soul to devil because he loved his life and sin more than Christ. Remember! Judas gave his life to follow Jesus, but he never gave Jesus his heart. Please don’t let this describe your life…..it has devastating results in the end. Think about it…..We have Judas’s in the church today around the globe. We have Judas’s in our homes........But remember this, we also have a loving Saviour who will save even the vilest of sinners by His grace. So heed the warning signs and  let us as J C Ryle said about this passage “let us watch jealously over our hearts” Let us walk with awareness of the dangers of sin and darkness. Let us jealously cling, hang on to Christ the glory and promise of our salvation. He is calling you to run to light because he wants you see sin as He sees sin….wicked and defiled. SO CRY OUT TO HIM! Seek His face in genuine repentance and be transformed by the power of God and His salvation…..….genuinely, not superficially!

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