Friday, April 07, 2023

The Vision (4.7.23): Lessons from Judas' Betrayal of Christ


Image: Molin Le Baiser, Judas et Satan, c. 1840, Musée des Beaux-Arts (Chambéry)

Note: Devotion taken from last Sunday's sermon on Matthew 26:14-25.

And [Judas] said unto them, What will ye give me, and I will deliver him unto you?” (Matthew 26:15a).

“The Son of man goeth as it is written of him” (Matthew 26:24a).

According to the criterion of embarrassment, the betrayal of the Lord Jesus by Judas is one of the most historically reliable facts recounted in the Gospels. If it did not really happen, it would never have been invented. Beyond its historical reality, this account also plays a spiritual role in this Gospel.

Here are at least two applications:

First, Judas is the epitome of a type that Christ repeatedly warned against, the “false professor,” one who says he know and follows Christ but does not, and instead, even works against him.

Christ warned against many who will say, “Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?” but to whom he will say, “I never knew you” (Matthew 7:22-23). Judas had indeed been sent out with the apostles to preach and minister in Christ’s name (see Matthew 10:7-8).

A friend recently noted that Judas was there to see the miracles of our Lord (feeding the five thousand, opening blinded eyes, etc.). Still, he did not believe and even betrayed Christ. From this we can conclude that miracles alone do not produce genuine faith.

A sober and serious warning is being conveyed. Avoid the way of Judas.  Have we said to the world, the flesh, and the devil, “What will ye give me, and I will deliver him unto you?” (cf. Matthew 26:15)? What is the thirty pieces of silver for which you would forfeit your faith and trust in Christ?

The real scandal is not merely the sin of Judas but the warning that comes against the potential of a Judas spirit in each of our hearts.

Second, even the evil of Judas’s betrayal was used of the Lord for good.

Christ declared, “The Son of man goeth as it is written of him.” We are reminded again that all things, even the worst of things, are used of God to magnify his glory and to bless his people. The Lord used the betrayal of Judas to bring about the salvation of many. We might paraphrase here Joseph’s words concerning his brethren who sold him into slavery: “Judas meant it for evil; but God meant it for good” (cf. Genesis 50:20).

This is the spirit of Romans 8:28, where Paul will say that God works all things together for good to those who love him, to those who are the called according to his purpose.

There is a video making the rounds on social media of a little girl with some obvious visual impairment being fitted with a new pair of glasses. She fights and tussles about till the glasses are placed on her, and then she can see. She stops fighting and her mouth drops open as she looks around and realizes the details in things that previously had been but a blur.

That is a picture of us at conversion. We once were blind, but now we see. Most importantly, we see the grace of God through Christ. We might also be able to see the hand of God at work in our lives even in the worst of things. We trust in him, not based on our faithfulness or the faithfulness of any other man, but based on the faithfulness of Christ alone.

Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle

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