A closer look at the apostle who was never at the cross
61 Because Jesus was aware that his disciples were complaining about this, he said to them, “Does this cause you to be offended? 62 Then what if you see the Son of Man ascending where he was before? 63 The Spirit is the one who gives life; human nature is of no help! The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life. 64 But there are some of you who do not believe.” (For Jesus had already known from the beginning who those were who did not believe, and who it was who would betray him.) 65 So Jesus added, “Because of this I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has allowed him to come.” 66 After this many of his disciples quit following him and did not accompany him any longer. 67 So Jesus said to the twelve, “You don’t want to go away too, do you?” 68 Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom will we go? You have the words of eternal life. 69 We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God!” 70 Jesus replied, “Didn’t I choose you, the twelve, and yet one of you is the devil?” 71 (Now he said this about Judas son of Simon Iscariot; for Judas, one of the twelve, was going to betray him.) (John 6:61-71)
1 Then, six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus lived, whom he had raised from the dead. 2 So they prepared a dinner for Jesus there. Martha was serving, and Lazarus was among those present at the table with him. 3 Then Mary took three quarters of a pound of perfumed oil made of pure nard and anointed the feet of Jesus. She then wiped his feet dry with her hair. (Now the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfumed oil.) 4 But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (the one who was going to betray him) said, 5 “Why wasn’t this perfumed oil sold for three hundred silver coins and the money given to the poor?” 6 (Now Judas said this not because he was concerned about the poor, but because he was a thief. As keeper of the money box he used to take what was put into it.) 7 So Jesus said, “Leave her alone. She has kept it for the day of my burial. 8 For you always have the poor with you, but you don’t always have me” (John 12:1-7).
In this life there are a good many things that are very difficult to understand or to explain. In our text, the disciples found it extremely difficult to comprehend what Jesus was saying when He told them that one of them was about to betray Him.
When we read John’s account of this event in John chapter 13, we find it hard to understand why the disciples didn’t quickly grasp what Jesus was telling them. When we marvel at the “dullness” of the disciples, we forget that we read through John’s Gospel somewhat like I watch one of my favorite movies—“What’s Up, Doc?”
I know that movie so well I start laughing a full minute before one of my favorite funny scenes occurs on screen. For example, I love the chase scene down the hills of San Francisco, especially the one in which the plate glass window is finally broken, after a number of near misses. And so, when that part gets close, I start warming up for it, laughing at what seems to be nothing at all.
We are tempted to read the Gospels like I watch my favorite movies. We know the entire story, from beginning to end. And thus, when we read any one text, we know what came before, just as we know how it all will end. We know, for example, that Jesus is going to be arrested, found guilty, and crucified—all within a few hours. We also know that He is going to be raised from the dead, and that He will ascend into heaven and return to the Father. But what is so clear to us in hindsight was not at all clear to the disciples.
They heard Jesus say that He was about to be betrayed by one of them. Peter even inquired of Jesus (through John, it would seem) about just who the betrayer was. And Jesus told John that it would be the one who took from His hand the piece of bread that He dipped into the dish. Yet when Jesus dipped the bread into the dish and gave it to Judas, who took it, no one did anything. No one even seemed to grasp what Jesus had just indicated. You have to understand that what Jesus was saying was so far from what they expected, they simply could not grasp what seemed to be clearly indicated.
All of this was for a reason—a very important reason. This reason we shall see as we study our text in this lesson. There are many important truths for us to consider and to apply here, so let us listen well, and let us ask the Spirit of God to make the meaning and the application of this text clear to us.
Judas—Putting the Pieces Together
In every listing of the names of the twelve apostles in the New Testament, this apostle’s name is always listed last (Matthew 10:1-4; Mark 3:14-19; Luke 6:13-16). In addition, every listing of this apostle’s name carries with it a derogatory comment that always follows. It is either “who betrayed him” (Matthew 10:4; Mark 3:14) or “who became a traitor” (Luke 6:16). The apostle’s name is Judas.
The name “Judas” is the Greek form of the Hebrew name “Judah1‘. One of the twelve tribes of Israel had this name. It was also the name of a famous soldier who led the Jews in a successful revolt against Syria. To a Jew, the name “Judas” had the same honor as the name George Washington or Abraham Lincoln would have to an American citizen. Its small wonder then that many Jewish parents named their sons Judas during the period when Jesus was born on the earth. It was a practice soon to end.
To distinguish the apostle Judas from the other men named Judas, a second name was attached to his name. It was “Iscariot”. Iscariot could have meant many things – gain or reward; an inhabitant of Jericho, or a dagger-bearer. Whatever it meant, Iscariot was also the name Judas’ father wore. His name was Simon Iscariot (John 6:71; 13:26). Some biblical scholars think Iscariot meant leather coat, implying that Simon and Judas may have been leatherworkers by trade. Others think Iscariot meant the name of a place, Kerioth or Cariot, an Old Testament town in the region of Judea (Joshua 15:25).
Each of the Gospel writers has chosen to include certain details about Judas and to exclude others. It may be helpful for us to begin this lesson by reviewing what we know about Judas in sequential order:
- Judas is chosen as one of the 12 (Luke 6:12-16; Mark 3:13-19).
- Judas is sent out as one of the 12 (Matthew 10:4).
- Judas accompanies Jesus with the other 11 disciples, beholding our Lord’s character and power, and hearing Him teach and claim to be the Messiah (Mark 3:14).
- In all of this, Judas never comes to faith in Jesus as his Messiah (John 6:64-65; 13:10-11, 18; 17:12).
- Judas is put in charge of the money box (John 12:6; 13:29).
- Judas begins to steal money from the money box (John 12:6).
- When Mary anoints the feet of Jesus, Judas is incensed by her extravagance, and is distressed that Jesus would allow such “waste” when this ointment could have been sold, and the proceeds given to the poor. He apparently manages to convince his fellow-disciples, so that they verbally harass Mary also (John 12:1-8; Matthew 26:6-13; Mark 14:3-9).
- [At this same point in time the chief priests and Pharisees are panic-stricken by our Lord’s growing popularity, as a result of the raising of Lazarus and then the triumphal entry (John 11:45-53, 57; 12:9-11). They wanted to seize Jesus privately, but not during the feast of Passover, lest they stir up the crowds (Matthew 26:3-5; Mark 14:1-2). They become so desperate they decide to kill not only Jesus (John 11:53), but Lazarus as well (John 12:10). The time was “ripe” for Judas to come to them with his proposal of betrayal.]
- Shortly after this incident with Mary, in which Jesus rebukes Judas and the other disciples, Judas goes to the chief priests and strikes a deal with them to betray Jesus and to hand Him over to them (Matthew 26:14-15; Mark 14:10-11).
- Judas begins to look for the right moment to hand Jesus over to the chief priests and Pharisees (Mark 14:11).
- Judas is with Jesus and the disciples during the first part of the Last Supper, apparently in the place of honor, next to Jesus (John 13:26).
- At the meal, Jesus indicates that one of the disciples will betray Him (Matthew 26:20-25; Mark 14:17-21), and then, by means of His dipping a piece of bread and handing it to Judas, our Lord indicates that it is Judas who will betray Him (Mark 14:20; John 13:21-27).
- Judas accepts the bread Jesus offers him, after which Satan immediately possesses him (John 13:27).
- Jesus dismisses Judas to carry out his terrible deed (John 13:27-30).
- Judas leads the soldiers to Jesus, where he identifies Jesus as the One they are to arrest by kissing Him (Matthew 26:47-50; Mark 14:43-46; Luke 22:47-48; John 18:1-9).
- Judas regrets his betrayal and tries to reverse his actions by returning the money, but it is too late. Judas then goes out and hangs himself (Matthew 27:3-10; Acts 1:15-19).
Judas—Who Would Have Ever Thought …
John 13:18-20 (NIV) 18“I am not referring to all of you; I know those I have chosen. But this is to fulfill the scripture: ‘He who shares my bread has lifted up his heel against me.’19“I am telling you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe that I am He. 20 I tell you the truth, whoever accepts anyone I send accepts me; and whoever accepts me accepts the one who sent me.”
“This is to fulfill the scripture: ‘He who shares my bread has lifted up his heel against me.'”NIV Jesus’ betrayal was necessary to fulfill Scripture—specifically, Psalm 41:9. The expression pictures a horse lifting his heel ready for a swift (and sometimes deadly) kick. Jesus drew from Psalm 41 because it describes how one of David’s friends turned against him:
|“Even my close friend, whom I trusted, he who shared my bread, has lifted up his heel against me” (Psalm 41:9 niv). This may have referred to the story of David’s trusted companion, Ahithophel, who betrayed David and then went and hanged himself (see 2 Samuel 16:20-17:3, 23). Judas, who had been with Jesus and was a trusted companion (Judas was keeper of the money), would betray Jesus and then hang himself.||Next to the Blessed Sacrament itself, your neighbor is the holiest object presented to your senses. If he is your Christian neighbor, he is holy in almost the same way, for in him also Christ vere latitat—the glorifier and the glorified, God Himself, is truly hidden.
C. S. Lewis
Jesus had known all along that Judas would betray him (see 6:64, 70-71; Matthew 17:22-23; 20:17-19), but he predicted the betrayal in the presence of his disciples so that they would realize, when the betrayal actually occurred, that it had been prophesied in Scripture (see Acts 1:16). This would strengthen their faith.
13:20 “Whoever receives one whom I send receives me; and whoever receives me receives him who sent me.”NRSV This verse follows the thought of verse 16, where Jesus spoke of being a servant to the one who sent him. He would send forth his disciples so that whoever would receive them would receive Jesus and, in turn, receive the one who sent Jesus—God the Father.
The word betrayal denotes horrible breaches of trust, unfaithfulness, treachery, and duplicity. In the history of a nation, it is acts of treason whereby someone gives “aid and comfort to the enemy.” In the history of the church, it is the immoral behavior of pedophile priests, money-grubbing televangelists, and inexcusable silence in the face of racism or sexism. In families, it is adultery or child abuse. In our individual Christian lives, it is following the tugs of flesh over Spirit and offering our pitiful rationalizations for sin over repenting in genuine sorrow.
Today’s sermon is about betrayal. No, actually it is about two acts of betrayal. And I hope there is more to be learned here this morning from the second than the first. I have certainly prayed while preparing it that God will use this sermon not to drive anyone to the despondency of a Judas-response to failure but to the gracious restoration of a Simon Peter-response. For this lesson is ultimately not about Judas or Peter but – as all the Gospel of John was originally crafted to be – Jesus.
The light of Jesus dispels the darkness of Satan. The grace of Jesus conquers the sins we commit and even the addictive power of sin in our hearts. The forgiveness of Jesus is greater than the judgment and condemnation of our arrogant disobedience.
Yes, Jesus knew what Judas was up to that night. But when did he know? It isn’t clear. One thing that does seem clear to me is that Jesus did not pick Judas back at the start of his ministry and manipulate him to that awful deed.
If Judas betrayed the Son of Man because God willed and arranged the event, he was obedient rather than disobedient to the divine will and thus should be honored rather than despised for his deed. Judas wound up fulfilling a divine prediction, but the ability to predict accurately testifies to God’s timelessness (i.e., ability to know past, present, and future simultaneously) rather than to his activity in bringing about all things that happen.
Who would have ever thought that Jesus would be betrayed, and by one of His 12 disciples? Answer: none of the 12, except for Judas. The Gospels do not really mention Judas all that often, but we do read of Judas being sent out by Jesus, along with the other 11 (Matthew 10:1ff.; Mark 3:19; Luke 9:1ff.).
Imagine, Judas was used of our Lord to manifest His power over the demons, and over every kind of illness: “He called his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits so they could cast them out and heal every kind of disease and sickness” (Matthew 10:1).
Who would have ever imagined that he would refuse to trust in Jesus as his Messiah?
Think of all the miracles which took place before the eyes of Judas. He witnessed the casting out of demons, the giving of sight to the blind (even a man born blind—John 9), and the raising of the dead (e.g., John 11). He was there when Jesus stilled the storm (see Luke 8:22-25) and when He walked on the sea (John 6:19-21). He took part in the feeding of the 5,000 (John 6:1-14) and then of the 4,000 (Matthew 15:29-39). Each of the other disciples grew in their faith at each new manifestation of our Lord’s power, love, mercy, and holiness. Not so with Judas.
And yet Judas seems to be the last one any of the disciples would have suspected of being the betrayer of whom our Lord was speaking. He seems to have been seated in the place of honor at the Last Supper, beside our Lord. He was the one entrusted with the money that was given to our Lord (John 12:6). Even when Jesus indicated that Judas was His betrayer by giving him the bread, the disciples still did not recognize him for who he really was. In this sense, I think, Judas was just like his “real father,” the devil:
13 For such people are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. 14 And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. 15 Therefore it is not surprising his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness, whose end will correspond to their actions (2 Corinthians 11:13-15).
A dark shadow now falls across the scene as Jesus deals with Judas, the traitor. Judas was the treasurer of the group (12:6) and was certainly held in high regard by his fellow disciples.
At this hour, Jesus had TWO great concerns: (1) to fulfill the Word of God (13:18-30), and (2) to magnify the glory of God (vs. 31-35).
Jesus tells His disciples that what He is saying does not apply to all of them. His words apply to those whom He has chosen. The inference is clear: there is someone among them whom He has not chosen, who is not a true believer. It is to this person that our Lord’s words do not apply. But what has Jesus been “saying” that doesn’t apply to Judas? In particular, I think it is the words of verse 17: “If you understand these things, you will be blessed if you do them.”
Jesus has been speaking of following His example by serving one another. They, as His disciples, are to do as their Master has shown them. But Judas is not truly one of our Lord’s own; he is not a true disciple of Jesus. He, of course, is not “clean,” as the other disciples are (13:10-11). Jesus has just said that the real blessing is not just in knowing and understanding what He has taught them, but in doing what He commands. If they (His disciples) do what He has commanded, they will be blessed. Good works are of great benefit to the Christian.
They contribute nothing to his salvation, but they do evidence true conversion, and they are the basis for the believer’s rewards. Good works benefit the Christian, but good works don’t benefit the unbeliever. When good works are done apart from faith in Jesus Christ for salvation and sanctification, they are actually an insult to God. Unbelievers who work to please Him while rejecting His Son are saying, in effect, “No thanks. I don’t need your righteousness, I’ll just produce my own. And so I won’t need your Son, either.”
Trusting and obeying God is a blessing; working hard to please God by our own efforts is an offense. Thus, only the Christian can be truly blessed by doing what God commands.
The things of which our Lord is speaking to His disciples are very important, and of great value to His true disciples (excluding Judas). His words are prophetic, spelling out what the future holds for Him and for Judas. The things of which He is speaking actually fulfill prophecy. Judas, who is reclining beside Jesus, and is about to take the bread which He offers, is one whose terrible betrayal has been foretold. John now cites Psalm 41:9, which says, ‘The one who eats my bread has turned against me.’
It was a very significant thing to sit at a man’s table and to eat his bread. In the ancient world, sharing a meal together was almost to make a covenant (in fact covenants were often made in association with a meal). You will remember the story of Lot, who invites perfect strangers into his home in Sodom, and then makes a shocking offer to the men of Sodom, in an attempt to protect his guests:
1 Now the two angels came to Sodom in the evening, and Lot was sitting in the gate of Sodom. When Lot saw them, he rose to meet them, and he bowed himself with his face toward the ground. 2 And he said, “Here now, my lords, please turn in to your servant’s house and spend the night, and wash your feet; then you may rise early and go on your way.” And they said, “No, but we will spend the night in the open square.” 3 But he insisted strongly; so they turned in to him and entered his house. Then he made them a feast, and baked unleavened bread, and they ate. 4 Now before they lay down, the men of the city, the men of Sodom, both old and young, all the people from every quarter, surrounded the house. 5 And they called to Lot and said to him, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us that we may know them carnally.” 6 So Lot went out to them through the doorway, shut the door behind him, 7 and said, “Please, my brethren, do not do so wickedly! 8 See now, I have two daughters who have not known a man; please, let me bring them out to you, and you may do to them as you wish; only do nothing to these men, since this is the reason they have come under the shadow of my roof” (Genesis 19:1-8, NKJV).
To share a meal with guests was to offer them not only provisions, but protection. Lot was so committed to his obligation to protect these “strangers” that he was willing to sacrifice the sexual purity of his daughters to protect his guests. I don’t pretend to comprehend this, or to defend it. I am simply pointing out that in the ancient Jewish (and perhaps more broadly, the Near Eastern) culture, inviting a man into one’s home and to his table was a most significant act.
If the host made such commitments to his guest(s), one would expect the guest to reciprocate in some way. And yet the one who sat at our Lord’s table and ate His bread actually betrayed Him. What a horrible thing Judas is about to do to His Master, and immediately after eating His bread.
John wants us to see that all this was prophesied ahead of time. He wants His disciples to know that much prophecy will not be understood at the time it is being fulfilled, but in hindsight, it can be seen clearly. Jesus is not telling His disciples these things so that they will understand Him and believe what He has said at that very moment. He tells them these things which will occur in the future so that they will believe when these prophecies are fulfilled. Then His disciples will know that Jesus was in full control, bringing about that which the Father had purposed in eternity past. In His earthly sojourn, Jesus was always in control. He was never, a helpless victim.
In verses 19 and 20, Jesus makes it very clear that all of this is about believing in Him. Jesus tells His disciples what is going to happen ahead of time, so that when these things take place they will remember He told them beforehand and believe in Him as the Messiah.
While Jesus is indirectly exposing Judas as an unbeliever here, His emphasis is on believing, believing in Him. This is the thrust of verse 20. Whoever accepts the one Jesus sends (and He will soon be sending them out, as we see in the “Great Commission”—Matthew 28:18-20) accepts Jesus Himself. Whoever accepts Jesus as God’s “sent One” (see John 1:1-18) accepts the Father, who sent Him.
Although these words seem to be directed to His believing disciples, I cannot help but wonder if this is not also one last appeal to Judas to believe. To betray Jesus is certainly the opposite of believing in Him.
He quotes from Psalm 41:9: “Even my close friend, whom I trusted, he who shared my bread, has lifted up his heel against me.”
Jesus was concerned that Judas’ treachery would not weaken His disciples’ faith. This is why He related it to the Word of God: when the disciples saw all of this fulfilled, it would make their faith stronger (see John 8:28). Judas had been disloyal, but He expected them to be loyal to Him and His cause.
After all, He was God the Son sent by God the Father. They were the Christ’s chosen representatives; to receive them would be the same as receiving the Father and the Son: “I tell you the truth, whoever accepts anyone Isend acceptsme; and whoever accepts me accepts the one who sent me.”
The remarkable thing is that the others at the table with Jesus did not know that Judas was an unbeliever and a traitor. Up to the very hour of his treachery, Judas was protected by the Savior whom he betrayed.
- Judas, the Trusted Apostle
Very little is known about Judas Iscariot until the last week of Jesus life. Until then, only his name, the accompanying derogatory remarks, and one other reference is ever made about him. This other reference is found in John 6:70 where Jesus stated to Peter, “Did I not choose you, the twelve, and one of you is a devil?” John states in the following verse that Jesus “spoke of Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, for he, one of the twelve, was to betray him”. These references paint a negative picture of Judas Iscariot, but remember Matthew, Mark, Luke and John wrote their gospel accounts after the fact, thereby prejudicing their views of Judas because of what he had done.
Until Judas Iscariot committed his betrayal act, the apostles apparently placed great trust in Judas. They made him their treasurer and entrusted him with the financial affairs of the group (John 13:29). This, in spite of the fact that Matthew would have been the logical member of the group to perform this important duty because of his background, training and experience as a tax collector. At the Last Supper, it is thought that
Judas held the seat of honor next to Jesus, sitting to his left. If so, Jesus would have been reclining on Judas at the table and, as the host, would have been passing the prepared food to Judas first. This appears to have been the case when Jesus said he would pass the morsel of food to the one that was to betray him (John 13:26). When Judas left the table to perform his infamous betrayal, none of the other apostles suspected anything, for they assumed he was leaving to perform a noble deed or purchase additional supplies (John 13:29); it being a tradition among the Jews to give something to the poor on the passover night. The apostles must have put complete trust in Judas until the very moment of his evil deed.
- Judas, the Treacherous Apostle
As the last days of Jesus’ life on earth unfold, additional glimpses of Judas Iscariot are shown. Two days before the Passover, Jesus was in Bethany at the house of Simon the leper (Matthew 26:6-13; Mark 14:3-9; Luke 7:37-38; John 12:1-8). A supper had been prepared for Jesus; Martha was serving and her brother Lazarus was seated at the table with Jesus (John 12:2). Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus, brought an alabaster jar of very expensive ointment – a pound of pure nard, and poured it on the head of Jesus as he sat at the table (Matthew 26:7; Mark 14:3; John 12:3). She wiped his feet with her hair (John 12:3). The house filled with the fragrance of the ointment (John 12:3). When the apostles saw what took place, Judas Iscariot said, “Why was this ointment wasted? For this ointment might have been sold for more than three hundred denani, and given to the poor” (Mark 14:4-5).
John’s account explains Judas’ motive for his remark, “This he said, not that he cared for the poor but because he was a thief, and as he had the money box he used to take what was put into it” (John 12:6). Thus Judas was found to possess the root of all evil – the love of money (I Timothy 6:10). It may have been Judas that the apostle was referring to when he wrote, “It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced their hearts with many pangs.” (I Timothy 6:10). If only Judas could have known the words of Hebrews 13:5, “Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have.”
Money was Judas’ main motivation for betraying Jesus. He bargained with the chief priests to betray Jesus for thirty pieces of silver (Matthew 26:14-16; Mark 14:10-11; Luke 22:3-6). Thirty pieces of silver was the price of a good slave; the wages of the foolish shepherd in Zechariah 11:12-13. Judas had seen Jesus escape from hostile crowds in the past (Luke 4:29-30; John 8:59; 10:31,39). In his own mind Judas probably reasoned that Jesus would do it once again. He would be thirty pieces of silver richer and Jesus would still remain free. What could be better? But this time things did not go as Judas had expected they would. Jesus did not try to escape. He was arrested and taken away by the crowd. Judas had made a terrible error. in judgement. He had found out what happens when Satan enters your heart (Luke 22:3; John 13:2). Even an appeal from Jesus himself had not stopped him. When Jesus told the apostles that one of them would betray him (Matthew 26:21-25; Mark 14:18-21; Luke 22:21-23; John 13:18-30), Judas had asked, “Is it I, Master?” and Jesus had said to him, “You have said so.” (Matthew 26:25).
III. Judas, the Terminated Apostle
When Judas realized that Jesus wasn’t going to escape from his captors, he began to rethink his plan. He repented and took back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders saying, “I have sinned in betraying innocent blood” (Matthew 27:4). But the chief priests and elders would not take back the money saying, “What is it to us? See to it yourself” (Matthew 27:4). Judas then threw down the money in the temple and departed. He then went out and hanged himself (Matthew 27:5). His body later fell and burst open (Acts 1:18).
Conclusion of Lesson
Judas had tried to make things right with himself and Jesus. He had urged the chief priests and elders to take the money back, hoping possibly that they would let Jesus go. When that attempt failed, he lost all sense of reality. He forgot what he had seen Jesus do in the past forgive the sins of other people – the paralytic let down through the roof (Matthew 9:2-8; Mark 2:1-5; Luke 5:17-26); the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well (John 4:7-26), the man who had been lame for thirty-eight years (John 5:2-14); the woman caught in adultery (John 8:3-11).
Time and time again he had seen the bad situations Peter had gotten himself into, seen him turn to Jesus for help, and each time be restored to the good graces of the Lord. He had heard Jesus teaching, “if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matthew 6:15); and “Come unto me all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:28). He had heard Jesus’ reply to Peter’s question about how many times a brother should be forgiven, M1 do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven” (Matthew 18:21) He had heard Jesus teach that, “All sins will be forgiven the sons of men, and whatever blasphemes they utter; but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin” (Mark 3:28-29). He had seen the compassion Jesus had for men and women who were possessed of demons.
Yes, he had seen and heard all this, but he did not apply what he had seen and heard to his own situation he found himself in. He thought life wasn’t worth living and that Jesus would never forgive him. He did not give himself a second chance. He forgot the compassion and comfort available to him through Jesus. He took matters into his own hands and committed suicide.
When life’s burdens crumble in around you, suicide is not the answer. When you think you are in bad situations that you can never get out of, suicide is not the answer. When you have done things that you think you can’t forgive yourself for, suicide is not the answer answer.’ Christ is the answer! He can made life’s darkest hour light again. He can turn night into day. He can restore your self-respect and help you work your problems out. He can be the lighthouse in the storm. Don’t give up on yourself; give yourself to Jesus. Suicide is not the answer, but the Savior is!
The Hill of Regret by Max Lucado
While Jesus was climbing up the hill of Calvary, Judas was climbing another hill; the hill of regret. He walked it alone. Its trail was rock-strewn with shame and hurt. Its landscape was as barren as his soul. Thorns of remorse tore at his ankles and calves. The lips that had kissed a king were cracked with grief And on his shoulders he bore a burden that bowed his back-his own failure.
Why Judas betrayed his master is really not important. Whether motivated by anger or greed, the end result was the same-regret. A few years ago I visited the Supreme Court. As I sat in the visitor’s chambers, I observed the splendor of the scene. The chief justice was flanked by his colleagues. Robed in honor, they were the apex of justice. They represented the efforts of countless minds through thousands of decades. Here was man’s best effort to deal with his own failures.
How pointless it would be, I thought to myself, if I approached the bench and requested forgiveness for my mistakes. Forgiveness for talking back to my fifth grade teacher. Forgiveness for being disloyal to my
friends. Forgiveness for pledging “I won’t” on Sunday and saying “I will” on Monday. Forgiveness for the countless hours I have spent wandering in society’s gutters.
It would be pointless because the judge could do nothing. Maybe a few days in jail to appease my guilt, but forgiveness? It wasn’t his to give. Maybe that’s why so many of us spend so many hours on the hill of regret. We haven’t found a way to forgive ourselves.
So up the hill we trudge. Weary, wounded hearts wrestling with unresolved mistakes. Sighs of anxiety. Tears of frustration. Words of rationalization. Moans of doubt. For some the pain is on the surface. For others the hurt is submerged, buried in a rarely touched 3ubsrrata of bad memories. Parents, lovers, professionals. Some trying to forget, others trying to remember, all trying to cope. We walk silently in single file with leg irons of guilt. Paul was the man who posed the question that is on all of our lips, “Who will rescue me from this body of death?”
At the trail’s end there are two trees.
One is weathered and leafless. It is dead but still sturdy. Its bark is gone, leaving smooth wood bleached white by the years. Twigs and buds no longer sprout, only bare branches fork from the trunk. On the strongest of these branches is tied a hangman’s noose. It was here that Judas dealt with his failure.
If only Judas had looked at the adjacent tree. It is also dead; its wood is also smooth. But there is no noose tied its crossbeam. No more death on this tree. Once was enough. One death for all.
Those of us who have also betrayed Jesus know better than to be too hard on Judas for choosing the tree he did. To think that Jesus would really unburden our shoulders and unshackle our legs after all we’ve done to him is not easy to believe. In fact, it takes just as much faith to believe that Jesus can look past my betrayals as it does to believe that he rose from the dead. Both are just as miraculous.
What a pair, these two trees. Only a few feet from the tree of despair stands the tree of hope. Life so paradoxically close to death. Goodness within arm’s reach of darkness. A hangman’s noose and a life preserver swinging in the same shadow.
But here they stand.
One can’t help but be a bit stunned by the inconceivability of it all. Why does Jesus stand on life’s most barren hill and await me with outstretched, nail-pierced hands? A “crazy, holy grace” it has been called. A type of grace that doesn’t holdup to logic. But then I guess grace doesn’t have to be logical. If it did, it wouldn’t be grace.
 This sequence may not be flawless, although I think it comes close to reality, but let the reader judge for himself.
 See Exodus 24:9-11.
 See Isaiah 48:5-7.
 Our text reads, “… so that when it happens you may believe that I am he.” The “I am” is, of course, significant, and the “he” must be referring to His identity as Israel’s Messiah.