Friday, May 26, 2023

The Vision (5.26.23): The false "repentance" of Judas


Note: Devotional taken from last Sunday's sermon on Matthew 27:1-14.

“Then Judas, which had betrayed him, when he saw that he was condemned, repented himself…” (Matthew 27:3a).

Judas stands in the Gospel accounts as a prototype for the “false professor.” What privileges and advantages had been given to him, to be close to Christ and an eyewitness of his ministry! In the end, however, Judas showed that he was not a genuine disciple.

Did he betray Christ because he thought it might spur a revolt against the Romans? We do not know. Matthew does tell us that when Judas saw that Christ was condemned by the chief priests and taken to the Roman governor Pilate to be crucified (as Christ had prophesied) that Judas “repented himself.”

This description stands out and might be easily misunderstood. Does this mean that Judas was filled with godly remorse? Was his conscience made tender and burdened with guilt at his sin against God? Does this correspond with the bitter tears of Peter (26:75)? Sadly, we must conclude when the situation is studied closely that there is no evidence of true “evangelical repentance” by Judas.

The verb (metamelomai) used in Matthew 27:3 to describe the “repentance” of Judas has the meaning of regret. There is no real evidence that Judas exhibited godly sorrow for what he had done to Christ. It is more accurate to say he felt sorrow for what he had done to himself. Judas had compromised his integrity and been used by the religious leaders to reach their ends, and then he felt deep regret about this.

The verb (meta-no-eo) is the term used in the New Testament to refer to evangelical repentance, godly sorrow for one’s sin that leads to a spiritual change of mind and heart, to turning away, with sincere revulsion from sin, and turning toward Christ. This is the term used in Acts 2:38 when Peter preached the cross and resurrection of Christ at Pentecost and their hearts were pricked. Peter declared, “Repent, and be baptized everyone one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins….” This is not the term, however, used to describe Judas’s “repentance.”

If Judas shed tears that day, they were crocodile tears, not the bitter tears of true repentance, which Peter wept.

The experience of Judas stands as a warning, a sign-post, for all those who falsely profess faith in Christ and who then betray the Lord. Their end is disgust and destruction.

Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle

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