His Conviction and the Convenience
When we read a section like this we can only but wonder did Judas really have a choice in what he was doing or were these conditions and circumstances outside of his control? Did he possess his faculties and intelligibly make these decisions or was he just a pawn in a cosmic game that was way beyond him. In the book of 2 Samuel 24 we read that late in David’s life he made a decision to number the people and this was objected to by his general Joab, but the kings word prevailed and the thing was done. It reads there that ‘God moved’ him to do this. God did not want such a thing in Israel and warned all the people of this and after the figures and census was taken God sent the prophet Gad to David to offer to him three judgements and he had to choose one.
The choice was not easy and David threw himself at the mercy of God. Though He was a God of mercy but that did not mean that He could reverse the penalty of the sin. The point I am trying to make is this. In 2 Samuel’s account of this he says that David made the decision, however, when we read the same account in 1 Chronicles 21 we see that Satan made him do it. So which one is right? Notice also that although God moved David to this He is punishing him for it. That may be strange for some of us because we find it hard to harmonise the sovereignty of God in human affairs with the responsibility of man in his own decisions. Did God, he or did Satan do it?
God is angry at sin and just gave the issue up for their judgement. Satan got involved because he is opportunistic and capitalises where he can and David did the deed by his own free will.
This was true of Judas. Both Luke 22:3; John 13:2, 27 tell us that Satan entered him. When we do something wrong we sometimes find ourselves saying ‘the devil made me do it.’
What happened to him? Maybe Judas was hearing voices in his head that told him to do this. It remains to be seen what the end of him was because of those voices. When the voice of the Lord is silenced in your life the voice of someone else will be awakened. It is the voice from hell. The demonic voice that wants to trap you up is the voice of your own subconscious mind. Everyone makes decisions based on what they perceive or believe to be true. That mind that never experienced repentance and doesn’t think it needs it. That mind that thinks that you can just ‘put it behind you’ and move on. That is another lie from hell. Sin must be confessed and repented of. You can put nothing behind you! The human being was not designed for that. Secular psychologists (otherwise also known as neo-evangelical pastors) tell you that you can and should do it. They have bought the Satanic delusion that Christ’s death cannot suffice for pasts sins. Sin must be dealt with or else it will constantly rear its ugly serpentine head over and over again in your life. You will think that everything is well and the demons are dead and all of a sudden they’re back again because demons don’t die. Their silence is not their absence. The true gospel tells you that you are a sinner and you will go to hell and with your unrepentant sin you will die in your sin, (spiritually not mortally) which means you are outside Christ. These are not issues to be taken lightly. Your immortal soul is at stake. When someone dents your bumper you throw a hissy fit but you dive half a concern that your soul is destined for a Christless eternity.
Now the phrase ‘then’ indicates that he did this based on what he had seen before. We know this to be the anointing of our Lord’s feet with the expensive perfume. This flipped the switch for him. Isn’t it amazing as Sikelela pointed out last Sunday that something that drives one person to worship Christ is the same thing that will drive another to betray Him. What a contrast between Mary and Judas. Judas loved money the woman evidently had no love for money. John tells us that he used to steal some money now and then and the mere fact that John records it indicates that they all knew of it and no one did anything about it. I do not say that she had no regard for it, for it is clear that she did. The fact that she chose to lavish it all on Jesus is proof of this. Where do you spend your money? Do you spend it on the things of God or on the things of this world? This dichotomy is clear throughout scripture. As virtuous as the thought was that such lavishings could be rather spent on the poor, which are of this world, it was a contrast to the Son of God. So the context points this out. Spend it on Christ or on this world. Spend your all on Christ or on this world. Virtuous secular causes like feeding the hungry, save the whale, aids prevention, green peace and so forth are necessary engagements for the Church to be involved in. The question is not should the Christian be involved in these causes, they should. The question is how should they be involved? To what degree should they be involved? The secular problems of this world are not the job of the believer to solve. It is the job of the Saviour to solve. The secular world tells you to prevent the spread of aids by using condoms. This is part of the Satanic delusion because condoms do not prevent aids. They are not designed for that purpose. I am involved in all these causes. I preach the salvation message of Jesus Christ who died for the sin of this world. It is sin that has produced poverty, aids, whale killing, pollution and so forth.
Judas was deluded into thinking that there was a better way of spending that money. His greed clouded his judgement. That was his conviction. Leave Christ out. Bypass the Saviour and spend it on another cause. Ignore the One who alone can remove the sin and attempt to sort it out ourselves. All of us are doing this! We are bypassing the biblical mandates of our Lord to repent and rather choosing to go it our own way. Conviction must lead to conversion but this is a false conviction that Judas had and it was based on a lie and consequently there was never a conversion. Because this conviction does not lead to contrition, which is a humble begging for forgiveness and then confession, which is an acknowledgement of sin.
There is a promise of a reward in this world. The text shows this. There is this momentary, transitory, fleeting, temporary, superficial reward that people are reaching out for because it is so tangible and near and reachable and it does not need too much of ourselves, in terms of shame for our sin and a turning away of the same. When the world offers a promise of reward it doesn’t ask for that. This is the nature of sin. It lures you according to your own lusts, the lust of your flesh. You capitulate to it once and then it becomes easy. You think in your heart this is the way I am. No! That is you giving in to those sinful tendencies and after a while of giving in to it, it becomes seemingly normal and you think it’s a way of life. What is seemingly normal to you is sin taking root where it ought not. Now here we have a man whom we, so long as we have been following Christ have also been with him. All through this time giving sway to his thoughts and scheming his plots and then at the Triumphal entry when he saw that Jesus was not going to take the kingdom like he would have hoped, he turned against him. He was disillusioned at Jesus’ failure to establish a political kingdom of which he would have been chief treasurer. He had become motivated by greed. This was not the way he was. He chose to be this way. This very action limited to just a few words by way of narrative is a culmination of a couple of years of planning.
Why are you following him? What brought him to Christ in the first place? What was it about Christ that attracted him? I think that it was the prospect of the treasure of the cash. The fact that he was treasurer must have been chief concern. Why did Jesus select him knowing this? It could be that He wanted to show us the peril of joining with Him for the wrong reason. What reason is that? The reason of money! This is what people are turning to Christianity for these days. The prosperity gospel is rife in the modern Church. They claim every material thing possible and are getting it because the Devil loves keeping them from the faith, from the truth. Notice, they have turned to Christianity not to Christ. They came for the blessing not the Blesser. They come for the creation not the Creator. This is called idolatry. It is for this reason that people are not overly concerned with holiness. It is a nuisance factor that they would rather do without. It doesn’t concern them that without holiness no man can see the Lord. R. C. Sproul says that ‘any view of God apart from His holiness is idolatrous.’ This is the generation of Christian idolatry. We come to Church for mammon. They turn to Christianity because they see a vestige of hope for their relief of circumstances, not for the rescuing from sin. In this respect we are all like him. Judas associated himself with Christ because of the prospect of self aggrandizement.
‘They were glad’ reads the text. The world is glad when they can betray Jesus. The world is glad when one of His own turns against or from Him. They were glad not because it benefits Judas but because it suited their ends. This is at the heart of this worldly gladness. It is not for you or your enjoyment it is for their selfish ends. When Jesus is betrayed you gain nothing but death. Out of this false, phony and fake sense of gladness comes a promise. They were glad because there was a plan. When they heard it –the plan. Judas had a good plan to do this deed without upsetting the multitude. This made them glad because this was something they were trying to do for a while. This gladness was a result of that news. There is no process to this gladness, it happened immediately upon hearing the news. This kind of gladness is superficial. It is also one that is internalised like the excitement of a person who is professional enough not to jump up and scream. They were subdued when Judas was in their midst but probably laughed out mechanically when he left, which laugh echoed through the Temple precincts. The text says ‘he betrayed Him to them.’ Betrayal is always of someone to someone. In this case the chief priests. They were the spiritual regime. In other words the fact of the betrayal had spiritual undertones. It is a fact of life that most of the world has turned their backs on Christ. They have betrayed Him. It seems convenient for them. It seems conducive. But it will prove disastrous for your eternal souls have been sold in that exchange. When you love money more than the Saviour you only buy one thing, a ticket to hell. This is spiritual loss of immense proportions.
Notice these words: glad, promise, convenience. These are good words. Are we not glad when we receive a promise of convenience? Yet these words find themselves in a context of one of history’s vilest deeds, the betrayal of Jesus Christ. That is always what sin does! It ruins the good in this world. Moreover sandwiched in all of this we have the word money. Money is neither good nor bad. It is neither moral nor immoral. It is amoral. It is the use of it that determines its worth. It is the love of it that determines the heart of the person. Judas evidently loved it and it caused him to hate Christ. The text tells us that ‘he sought how’. He didn’t just wait around for the opportunity as some of us might. He went looking for a way and exploring ideas and options of how he could betray him. He studied, planned, schemed, designed, premeditated, calculated, devised and deliberated. He was ongoing in this until he found the right moment. First used in Mk. 1:10 describing James & John forsaking their nets and father to follow Christ. They went after Him with an intensity of purpose.
Notice something else. When he went and covenanted with the chief priests to betray our Lord. he, at that stage didn’t have the plan set out. He was confirmed in the conviction that that was what he wanted to do. He was sure about the general layout of the scheme. He knew where it was to be done, Jerusalem and he also knew to whom to betray Him to, the chief priests. Did you observe that this excludes the Scribes and Pharisees and even the Romans? Because scripturally, legally and politically he couldn’t for Jesus gave him no reason to. The Chief priests ran only the temple and its offerings of which He had come to replace by means of His fulfillment on the Cross.
Now the chief priests also ‘sought how’ (cf. vs. 1) but theirs was just to ‘take’ him as if He belonged to them, whereas Judas looked for ‘convenience’. It has to do with the perfect opportunity that best suits oneself.
When you betray others you betray yourself. The explanation of the term is a breaking, severing, and violation of a social contract involving relationships. Notwithstanding, the relationship that has to be violated first is the one with yourself. You betray yourself before you betray anyone else. This is what Judas realized but it was too late and his only way out was to hang himself.
However, there is a snippet here that has largely been overlooked. It is that little phrase ‘one of the twelve.’ This is grace! Right at the death our Lord still considered him as ‘one of the twelve.’ This was Judas’ plight. He always chose his own way over the way of Christ. He was ‘one of the twelve’, which means that he too was preaching and teaching and working miracles but he was not saved. He was a pretender. He was a co-habituate. Though he was ‘one of the twelve’ he did have his own identity and thus is he named for that purpose. He is ‘one of’, numerically separate (because he was not Galilean) yet part of a whole. More correctly the text should read, ‘he is the one of the twelve.’ This would also indicate that though he was one of them yet he was actually not part of them. He was a lone ranger going about things on his own. Not accountable to anyone nor transparent. Part of a team but not a team player. Part of a choir but always singing solos. That is but a short step to betrayal. That is but a short step for exchanging Christ for monetary convenience.
How we hold our heads and weep incessantly when a husband, wife, child or friend betrays us yet think so little, if at all, when we betray our precious Lord Jesus.
What do you seek here this morning? The convenience of the gathering? The promise of circumstantial betterment? Where do you spend your money? Why have you betrayed Jesus here this morning? Why are you trying to bypass Him in your life? Is He worth trading for all that silvery temptation called money? Is it not ironic that Judas / Judah means ‘praise.’ He came out of the same tribe that Jesus came from Judah.
 Birch Acres 26th October 2008