John 13:18-30 | A Shocking Betrayal | Andrew Gutierrez
Topic: Worship Gatherings Passage: John 13:18–13:30
Please open your Bibles to John 13. The worship guide says we’re looking at verses 18-20. We’re actually going to be in verses 18-30. We’re in a section in John 13, as we go through the book of John, that we’re calling “Love & Betrayal” because you see evidences of love; you see evidences of betrayal. And so I want to go through verses 18-30 this morning. Please follow along as I read. Jesus speaking after he’s just told the disciples to serve one another and love one another, he says this in verse 18:
I am not speaking of all of you; I know whom I have chosen. But the Scripture will be fulfilled, “He who ate my bread has lifted his heel against me.” I am telling you this now, before it takes place, that when it does take place you may believe that I am he. Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever receives the one I send receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.
After saying these things, Jesus was troubled in his spirit, and testified, “Truly, truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me.” The disciples looked at one another, uncertain of whom he spoke. One of his disciples, whom Jesus loved, was reclining at table at Jesus’ side, so Simon Peter motioned to him to ask Jesus of whom he was speaking. So that disciple, leaning back against Jesus, said to him, “Lord, who is it?” Jesus answered, “It is he to whom I will give this morsel of bread when I have dipped it.” So when he had dipped the morsel, he gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot. Then after he had taken the morsel, Satan entered into him. Jesus said to him, “What you are going to do, do quickly.” Now no one at the table knew why he said this to him. Some thought that, because Judas had the moneybag, Jesus was telling him, “Buy what we need for the feast,” or that he should give something to the poor. So, after receiving the morsel of bread, he immediately went out. And it was night.
I’ve entitled this message “A Shocking Betrayal.”
A man named Chuck was around 20 years of age when he, by his own words, committed his life to Christ. This happened in Toronto, Canada, back in the middle of the 20th century. This man Chuck quickly became a traveling evangelist. On fire, he went to tell people about Christ. In 1946 the National Association of Evangelicals listed Charles Templeton as the best used of God. I don’t know how they measured that, but oh, well, they labeled him best used of God, superseding even his friend, a man named Billy Graham.
After many prayer meetings, much Bible study, and numerous evangelistic sermons, Chuck began to question the Christian faith. He eventually rejected the Scriptures and rejected Christ. In 1995 he authored a book called Farewell to God. Shortly before his death in 2001, Lee Strobel interviewed him. Not Lee Strobel’s death; Chuck’s death. Lee Strobel interviewed him. Strobel asked him about Jesus.
Templeton said this: “In my view, he’s the most important human being who ever existed.” Strobel then writes:
That’s when Templeton uttered the words I never expected to hear from him [Templeton], and if I may put it this way, he said, as his voice began to crack, “I miss him.” With that tears flooded his eyes. [This is Strobel writing.] He turned his head and looked downward, raising his left hand to shield his face from me. His shoulders bobbed as he wept. Templeton fought to compose himself. I could tell it wasn’t like him to lose control in front of a stranger. He sighed deeply and wiped away a tear. After a few more awkward moments, he waved his hand dismissively. Finally, quietly, but adamantly, he insisted, enough of that.
There’s a reason that we’re gripped by a story like this. We know this story from some of those in our own family, friends. We know people who looked like one thing for so long and come to find out they were not that thing. They’ve rejected Christ. They’ve walked away from him. They’ve walked away from him while apparently for so long walking so close to him. This is Judas. This is Judas’ story.
In this passage, we see three shocking realities in the announcement of the betrayal. Three shocking realities in the announcement of the betrayal. Whenever you read a passage and seek to teach it, you ask yourself this one question: What is the main point? What’s the author, the Holy Spirit, trying to teach us? Here the main point John wants to teach us is that this was shocking. This was shocking. And there are really three aspects to the shock. So I want to kind of outline our passage in those ways. I want to look at three shocking realities in the announcement of the betrayer, and then at the end I want to give three pastoral applications. I want to seek to pastor you appropriately based on a text like this.
1. A Shocking Division
The first point, the first shock we see is a shocking division. A shocking division. Verses 18-20. Jesus here separates the group. Things have been going so well. He’s been healing people. He just came into Jerusalem and people were laying down palm branches, a sign that he was the Messiah. He was the long-awaited King. They were singing Psalm 118 about him. Such a high. Why did Jesus have to ruin it talking about a betrayal? Well, that was prophesied. Jesus knew it would happen.
This division, the upper room, the announcement of the division, is shocking. The Old Testament prophesied that a betrayer would arise from the close company of the Messiah. Jesus wanted the disciples to understand this. Verse 18: Jesus says, “I am not speaking of all of you; I know whom I have chosen. But the Scripture will be fulfilled, ‘He who ate my bread has lifted his heel against me.’” Jesus has just told them in the previous verse, and if you missed it, you can go back and listen online from a couple weeks ago. He’s just told them in the previous passage that if they call him Teacher and Lord, they should do what he says. And what does he say to do? Serve one another; love one another. And so he assumes that his disciples who call him Teacher and Lord will do just what he has done. Serve. Love.
So he says, “I am not speaking of all of you.” So all of you are going to serve me and do what I said, but not all of you. There’s one of you that’s excepted. “I know whom I have chosen.” Jesus is indicating that the ones he chooses are the ones that continue following. The one he hasn’t chosen doesn’t continue following. That’s the implication he’s making. One of them is not chosen and we know who it is. They didn’t at the time. We know that it’s Judas Iscariot, the one that was never a believer.
Jesus is referring to Psalm 41:9, the one who lifts his heal against him, the one who’s going to lift his heal against the Messiah. And the lifting of the heal is an act of derision. It’s an act of hatred and rebellion, even from one within close company. Now when I say Judas was never a believer, you may think, well, sure he was a believer, and then he became an unbeliever. Well, that’s not what Jesus taught.
Turn back to John 6. John 6, especially towards the end, is that famous chapter where Jesus starts to press and really scrutinize, not the Pharisees, not the Sadducees, not the pagan Gentiles. He starts to scrutinize and challenge professing disciples. John 6:60-64: “When many of his disciples heard it, they said, ‘This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?’ But Jesus, knowing in himself that his disciples were grumbling about this, said to them, ‘Do you take offense at this? Then what if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. [Notice] But there are some of you who do not believe.’”
Now, he’s talking to professing disciples. Lord, we’re following you. We like the miracles. You’re Son of David. You fed us. We’re following you. And Jesus says to that group, some in that group, there are some of you who do not believe. Present tense. Right then and there, did not believe. Well, he wasn’t talking about Judas. Judas believed. There were other people who didn’t believe. Let’s keep reading.
“‘But there are some of you who do not believe.’ (For Jesus knew from the beginning who those were who did not believe, and who it was who would betray him.)” Judas was not a believer. People can look like believers and be in the right church, be in the right company, have the right friends for so long until ultimately it’s found out who they really are.
Jesus makes this distinction clear back in John 13 when he says, the ones who are going to keep following me are the ones whom I’ve chosen. I know whom I have chosen. Verse 19: He tells the disciples, “I am telling you this now, before it takes place, that when it does take place you may believe that I am he.” Jesus is using the fact that he is going to be betrayed to show his credibility. You would think that Jesus being betrayed would mean, oh, he’s not the Messiah. See, he’s going to die. He’s not the Savior of the world. Jesus is saying, listen, I’m going to tell you beforehand that I’m going to be betrayed and it’s going to be by someone who eats bread with me, someone close to me. I’m telling you that beforehand so that when you kind of connect the dots later on, you’re going to know, oh, my goodness, he is sovereign over this whole thing. That’s what Jesus is trying to teach his disciples.
Jesus knew that a close friend would betray him. He knew that it would be the one who ate bread with him. Jesus knew exactly who it was. John 6:44. He wanted the disciples to understand later that he knew all along. Betrayal is no surprise to Jesus. Verse 20: “Truly, truly, I say to you [he’s trying to get their attention], whoever receives the one I send receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.” Jesus switches from focusing on the betrayer for a time and he focuses on the disciples, the ones who would be faithful to him. And he basically tells them, if you keep following me, if you do what I say, you’ve been sent by me. You’re going to go out and you’re going to proclaim the message and people are going to receive you. If they receive you, they’re going to receive me. And if they receive me in that transaction, they’re really receiving the Father who sent me. It’s a chain.
Just the same way it is today. We go out and tell people about Christ. If they respond to that and receive Christ based on the testimony, we’ve given them the gospel, they’re not only receiving us, in a sense, they’re really receiving Christ. They’re not just receiving Christ, in a sense, they’re receiving the Father who sent Christ. So he’s showing his disciples kind of what their work is going to look like and what it’s going to mean for people who listen to them proclaim this gospel message.
Verse 20 shows a contrast. A betrayer is among them, but a true disciple is to remain focused on the work that Christ has called them to do. Now is the time in this upper room, the night before he would die, now is the time for the false disciple to be shockingly separated. Jesus’ followers needed to understand the divisions between those sent by God, and those sent by Satan would now become more apparent.
And hasn’t Jesus been teaching his disciples this? Right? He’s been teaching them that he came, and when people embrace him, it’s going to oftentimes sadly divide their own family. Because Jesus comes with an audacious claim, with an audacious command. Here’s the command Jesus brings when he enters into your family. Worship me above all else. And when people in that family worship him above all else, it means that they can no longer do what they once did. They don’t want to anymore. When that rubs people the wrong way, other people in their family, there’s a division that Christ has brought because he’s supreme. He’s not just one of many things that your family is about. He’s the supreme thing that you are about.
Jesus doesn’t share his allegiance with anyone, and that’s why he often would say that he would separate families because some would be devoted and some would not be. This shouldn’t be shocking to the disciples. He’s been saying this to them all along. Now he shows them in their own company, in their own group there will be one that’s been separated, one who does not have his allegiance in Christ.
J. C. Ryle says this, and I think of this quote when we think of even the division in our own families or friendships, or whatever it may be, because we’re in Christ and someone else hasn’t come to him. Ryle says this: “If we share our master’s lot, we have no cause to be surprised. Above all, these passages show us the perfect suitableness of Christ to be our Savior. He can sympathize with us. He has suffered himself, and he can feel for those who are ill-used and forsaken.”
If you’re one of those who’s had a division in your family because you are in Christ and someone else is not, you have a Savior who not only knows but feels what it’s like to be you. And in that sense, he’s a capable Savior. He’s a capable Savior. Listen, we want to serve a God who’s sovereign. We want to serve a God who sees things like this coming and knows and has an overall purpose for all of it. We don’t want to serve a God who’s surprised. The one person who’s not surprised in this section—Jesus. Everybody else is surprised. He’s not. We don’t want to serve a God who’s shocked. We want to serve a God, we get to serve a God who’s sovereign. Who’s sovereign.
2. A Shocking Presumption
It’s not just a shock that the betrayer existed from among them though. It was a shock that this betrayer could do all that he was going to do in light of all that he’s experienced. So the second shocking statement, the second shocking reality to this whole thing is a shocking presumption. Judas presumes on the grace of Christ. How in the world could he do that after all he’s been given and been shown. A shocking presumption.
Judas’ taking of the morsel of bread in verse 26, his taking of the morsel of bread from Jesus was the epitome of his relationship with Christ. He took an honor from Jesus. Jesus gave him something that was an honor. He took that honor and thought very little of it. Really verse 26 epitomizes Judas’ whole relationship with Jesus. His life is characterized by presuming upon the common grace that Christ had shown him for so long.
Verse 21 starts this next section. “After saying these things, Jesus was troubled in his spirit, and testified, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me.’” If you’ve been with us in our study of John, you know that in the last few chapters we’ve heard that phrase about Jesus—troubled in spirit. Troubled in spirit. Troubled in spirit. He’s getting to the last week of his life and we learned in John 11 that he is troubled in his spirit because he sees people weeping over death and it does not need to be that way. And Jesus, because he is the compassionate Savior, sees people weeping over death, and he starts to weep even though he’s going to raise the man from the dead moments later. Jesus is troubled in his spirit.
Chapter 12, he’s troubled in his spirit. He’s about to suffer the wrath of God. He is troubled in his spirit. And here in chapter 13, one of those who’s been traveling with him for three years who he knew so well, whom he created, is going to betray him. Jesus’ insides are churning. He’s troubled in spirit.
Verse 22: He’s told them that one of them is the betrayer. “The disciples looked at one another, uncertain of whom he spoke.” So we think if we’d been there, we’d been like, oh, yeah, Judas. He’s been stealing from the moneybag. He kind of did that whole hypocritical thing when Mary was anointing the feet of Jesus. Judas. You wouldn’t have thought that. I wouldn’t have thought that. Nobody would have thought that. Listen, Judas had the moneybag. You trust people who have the moneybag. He was evidently trustworthy. He was there for the last three years. They wouldn’t have known it was Judas.
Verse 23: “One of his disciples [and this is the first time John refers to himself in this way], whom Jesus loved, was reclining at table at Jesus’ side, so Simon Peter motioned to him to ask Jesus of whom he was speaking.” Now, you got to understand the seating of the table, and do not think The Last Supper by da Vinci. Get that out of your mind. Fantastic piece of art. Horrible piece of theology. That’s not how it was. Jesus wasn’t spreading his hand and they were all just kind of lined up behind the buffet table. It wasn’t like that.
They sat in U-shaped tables. They leaned in U-shaped couches around a table. So there would have been a number of U-shaped couches for which three people would have sat on or reclined on. They would have reclined on their left hand and grabbed the food with their right hand.
So Jesus is sitting in the middle of one of the U-shaped couches with one person to the right and one person to his left. Leaning on his left, somebody would have been leaning right in front of him—John, the one whom Jesus loved. And that position, by the way, was a position of honor, as was the position to his left. Both of them were positions of honor.
So Peter isn’t at one of those positions. We might have thought that it would have been Peter, James and John. So two of them get the good seats and maybe James is just kind over on the next couch over. Evidently, Peter’s not near Jesus. He’s somewhere else in the room. So Peter motions to John: ask him, ask him. There’s probably talk going on, shock. Disciples, Andrew talking to Bartholomew. There’s chatter. And Peter tells John, ask him who it is.
Verse 25: “So that disciple [John], leaning back against Jesus, said to him, ‘Lord, who is it?’” So John is leaning there in front of Jesus; Peter motions to John to ask Jesus. So John leans even further back to the chest of Jesus and says who is it? Which one is it? This is evidently done in a whisper. The other disciples didn’t hear this. This is a private conversation between John and Jesus. John, the one who writes this gospel and tells us about this secret conversation.
Verse 26: “Jesus answered, ‘It is he to whom I will give this morsel of bread when I have dipped it.’” Now we know he didn’t say this to the whole room because then he gives the morsel of bread and no one knows who the betrayer is. So this is something he says to John only. Only John knows the identification of the betrayer. “Jesus answered, ‘It is he to whom I will give this morsel of bread when I have dipped it.’”
Verse 27: “So when he had dipped the morsel, he gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot.” Jesus tells John privately. Now I want you to notice something else about this. Jesus didn’t need to get up to give Judas the morsel of bread. Now John, all throughout chapter 13, has been telling us about people getting up and sitting down. Verse 4: Jesus got up from supper, put a towel around his waist, went to a wash basin (two wash basins it would have been) to pour water from one to the other over the feet of the disciples as he washed their feet. But the point I’m making is John talks about Jesus getting up to do an act of service.
Verse 12: At the end of the foot washing Jesus resumed his position back on the couch. John tells us about movement in the room. Here in verse 26, Jesus gives the morsel to Judas and doesn’t need to get up to do it. What’s the conclusion that I make and most other commentators make? John was at his left—or at his right, depending on which side you’re looking at. John was here; Judas was here. Judas was in the place of honor.
What’s more, Judas received the first morsel of bread which was an act of giving honor to someone, an act of kindness. We have people over and, hey, food’s on the table. Serve yourself, and everyone just digs in. Not there. Food would have been set before. Jesus would have dipped the morsel of bread, and who he handed it to would have been receiving a very gracious gesture. Judas is in a place of honor. He’s near Jesus.
He was in a place of privilege. Of course, he was; he had been in that place of privilege his whole life. Jesus had been so gracious to him his whole life, even before he knew Jesus. He breathed air that Jesus provided. He enjoyed laughter that Jesus provided. He had friends that Jesus provided. Everything he had been given. Anything that we’ve ever been given is grace from God, because I’ll tell you what, we do not deserve it. And Judas didn’t deserve it. Judas is in a place of privilege. The same place he’s been his whole life. And Jesus gives him the morsel, the first morsel. This is a gracious act from Jesus to give it to Judas sitting right next to him.
Judas took this gracious act and thought very little of it. I mean, imagine being Judas at this point. Evidently, he’s already been making plans before the last supper to betray Jesus. Jesus says, one of you is going to betray me; and if I were Judas I would hope that my conscience would be pricked in that moment and to say, okay, he knows. That’s it. Enough. I’m going back to him. I’m going to make it right. Judas didn’t do that.
Jesus goes on teaching. He says, one of you is going to betray me. And Judas still has his conscience hardened, seared. Receives this act of kindness from Jesus. Even then, Jesus gave it to him, not the other 11 men. Even then you’re hoping, you’re wishing that Judas would have said, oh, he’s shown me so much grace. I can’t do this. But not Judas. He goes on.
Judas had been living like this for not only the last three years, but his whole life, receiving gifts from Jesus and thinking very little of them. Certainly before he met Jesus, he wouldn’t know that they were from him; but now these last three years, he would have known that Jesus, God in human flesh, had been giving him so many good things.
Judas would have received this piece of bread with clean feet because Jesus washed his feet. The giving of the bread comes after the washing of the feet. Jesus is going from Andrew to John to Peter, and we know what that foot washing was like because we were brought into the conversation between Jesus and Peter, and then Jesus eventually would have gotten to Judas at some point. Jesus created those feet, knows everything about those feet, knows what those feet are going to do when they leave the room, and yet he’s still gracious. Why? Because Jesus is God, and that’s what God is like even to rebels. Rebels marry. Rebels go on vacation. Rebels enjoy athletics, flowers. Rebels enjoy good gifts that God gives them all the time, and he lavishes grace on them, and yet they still determine to reject.
I’d love to have known what Jesus was thinking as he washed Judas’ feet. But I do know what he was showing. Grace. He was yet again showing Judas grace. In a sense, every person who rejects Christ is like Judas in this way. They reject Christ with the same faculties that he gave them.
There is a satirical website, and it’s pretty funny, actually, called “The Babylon Bee.” It’s a news site. Fake news stories about the Christian life. The Babylon Bee had a news story called—and here is the title of it: “‘What Has God Ever Done For Me?’ Asks Man Breathing Air.” The first paragraph says this. It’s a rather humorous way to make a point, but listen. “Sources confirmed Wednesday that local freethinker Jared Olson called into question the ‘absurd’ idea that God had ever done anything for him, all while inhaling oxygen and exhaling carbon dioxide in a complex process well beyond his mind’s capability of understanding in its entirety.”
It’s really a humorous way of saying something that’s very truthful: People reject Christ with the same breath that he’s given them. The Jewish authorities used their minds that God gave them to think of a false accusation which ultimately led to the death of Christ. Roman leaders used the power, used the power of their office, used the power of their authority, to sentence Jesus to death. Their authority was given to them by Jesus. Roman soldiers used their strength to nail him to a cross. Jesus gave the Roman soldiers their strength. Those who reject Christ do so with the faculties that he’s graciously given them to use for his glory, but they do not.
In a sense, hell will be a place where people realize how much they have presumed upon the grace of God. Judas had the grace of God in front of him moment by moment, but his heart wanted something else and ultimately led him to betray Christ. It’s a shocking presumption.
3. A Shocking Identification
The final shocking reality is that the betrayer is actually Judas. John reveals that at the end. We’ve known it all along. John reveals this at the end. A shocking identification. John tells the reader what the disciples did not understand in the moment. John intends for us to be shocked. Verse 27: “Then after he had taken the morsel, Satan entered into him. Jesus said to him, ‘What you are going to do, do quickly.’”
Now evidently Jesus speaks to Judas in a little louder voice to where other people hear, and he tells Judas, what you’re going to do, do it quickly. Satan previously, we learned, had put into his heart to disobey Jesus. Now we’re told that Satan enters into Judas. So Satan puts something in the heart of Judas. Now Satan himself enters into Judas. Judas is doing exactly what Satan wants. Satan is doing what he wants through Judas in betraying Christ.
And by the way, notice the wiles of the adversary. Notice what Satan does. Don’t forget, John doesn’t really talk about this in John’s gospel. The other synoptic authors kind of round this out for us. Something else that would have been happening this night in this upper room—the very first Lord’s supper. The very first communion. And by the way, Judas leaves after this. When Jesus says, go and do it quickly, Judas leaves and goes and does it quickly. What that tells us is Judas was there when Jesus said, this is my body; this is my blood; do this in remembrance of me. Judas not only had his feet washed, he partook of the Lord’s supper.
Satan was present in the first communion service. That’s the adversary. Judas willingly does Satan’s bidding. I’m not exactly sure why Jesus told Judas to go and do what he did quickly. I would think if it was me, knowing what the plan was, I’d say, stay here. I mean, he’s going to go do something that’s going to lead to Jesus’ arrest and crucifixion. Jesus is sovereign in all this. He knows what’s going to happen. Go and do it quickly.
We learn in the Old Testament that people who shed blood do it swiftly. Maybe there’s something to that here. Maybe Jesus couldn’t stomach Judas’ hypocrisy any longer. I don’t know what it was, but he tells him, whatever you’re going to do, go and do it quickly. Verse 28: “Now no one at the table knew why he said this to him. Some thought that, because Judas had the moneybag, Jesus was telling him, ‘Buy what we need for the feast,’ or that he should give something to the poor. So, after receiving the morsel of bread, he immediately went out. And it was night.”
There’s two assumptions to the rest of the disciples. They heard Jesus say to Judas, what you’re going to do, go and do quickly. They think Judas is going to get groceries. We need it for the feast. Okay, normal. Some of them thought, oh, Jesus wants him to go give money to the poor, maybe to the guy we saw coming into the upper room. Whatever it was, they think one of two things, and neither of them are true.
What does that highlight? They don’t know it’s Judas. They might have guessed Peter. I mean Peter probably awkwardly had a lot of sets of eyes turned to him when Jesus said one of you is going to betray me. Remember Jesus actually called him Satan at one point, always putting his foot in his mouth. Peter would have been a better guess than Judas. But it was Judas.
Notice, those who turn their backs on Christ often do so after being around his word and in the company of his disciples. Those who turn their backs on Christ often do so while being in the environment where his word is taught and when they’re around his disciples. You cannot predict a betrayal. Can’t predict it.
With that, Judas goes out into the darkness in more ways than one. He goes out into the darkness. J. C. Ryle, again: “Within a short time both the holy master and the treacherous servant were dead. They will never meet again in the body till the trumpet sounds and the dead are raised and the judgment is set and the books are opened.” What an awful meeting that will be.
People sometimes say to me in my office things like, you’re never going to believe what I’m about to tell you. As a pastor, especially after looking at this passage, in a sense, nothing shocks me. Judas looked so good for so long. People can think the outside is reflective of what’s inside. Sometimes we have no clue. We have no clue. Friends, I want you to consider this: Judas portrayed on the outside what was not true on the inside. He fooled people. He looked good, and in his heart there was a constant pattern of neglecting his own sin, neglecting his own actions, thinking very little of what he thought, not considering it a big deal.
People are shocked at great falls because they couldn’t see what was going on in the heart. They couldn’t see what was going on in the heart for days before, weeks before, months before, maybe even years before, but it was going on in the heart. What’s going on inside of you is the real you. What’s going on inside of you even today is the real you. I wonder if any of you are coddling thoughts, wicked thoughts, even angry thoughts about another person. You’ve been stewing for a week. Don’t stew about anything sinful.
Judas didn’t get there overnight. It was a long progression of neglecting his own heart, waiting for the opportune time for Satan to come and overtake it. What’s going on inside of you is the real you. Maybe you’re planning on sinning in some way in the near future, planning on deceiving someone in some way in the near future. Put an end to it now before the Lord. Nobody knows what you’re planning to do except Christ. Just admit to him what he already knows.
I want to highlight one other thing. Judas was evidently an ungrateful man. Consider all that Judas had. Crowds clamored for Jesus. There was a paralyzed man who couldn’t even get in the same house as Jesus because the crowds were too full. They had to cut a hole through the roof, and he had to be lowered. People wanted an audience with Jesus, but they couldn’t get near him. Judas was right next to him for three years. Judas had so much to be grateful for, but all he thought was, I need more money. I don’t want to follow someone who’s about to die. Judas constantly thought about what he didn’t have rather than be grateful for what he did have.
Let’s consider how much we dwell on what we don’t have and talk about what we don’t have and complain about what we don’t have. This is the sin of Judas. One of the major sins in Judas was ingratitude—was not grateful for all that he had been given. We don’t have what we don’t have because the Lord has determined that we shouldn’t have it right now. Perfect health, this relationship, that relationship, that job—we don’t have it, but we have so much that we don’t deserve, and the Lord is faithful. The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.
Three pastoral applications as we close. Three pastoral applications. One—let me give you three phrases. First phrase: Stop the deception. Stop the deception. People may be fooled about what’s really going on inside of you. Christ is not. Christ knows. Admit to him what he already knows. If there’s anybody here making a better show of who they actually are, and in some sense it’s probably all of us, stop the deception.
Number two: Take little sins seriously. Take little sins seriously. Put an end to little thoughts before they grow into larger patterns. To think little of little sins turns into a larger problem, like a snowball in that sense. Take little sins seriously. Judas’ betrayal was not sudden. It didn’t happen overnight. He wasn’t this sold out, on fire for Jesus, I’m willing to die for you disciple and then all of a sudden the next day, I think I’m going to betray him. Didn’t happen that way. This was a long progression of unconfessed sin over a period of evidently years that ultimately led to this.
Take little sins seriously. That’s why we talk about indwelling sin here at our church. We admit that we still have it. We seek to mortify it, like Colossians 3:5 says, you want to put it to death because we’ve been raised with Christ, and we can actually do that now that we’re in Christ. We can actually be successful in killing sin because he ultimately killed sin.
And I want to end with number three. Stop the deception. Take little sins seriously. Number three: Go back to him because you can. Right now. Jesus’ patience doesn’t last forever for the rebel. Ultimately, men and women die and then comes judgment. 2 Corinthians 6 says that, behold, now is the time for salvation. Today is the day. Go back to him because you can.
We know that Judas ended his own life. Overwhelmed by guilt, sorry for sin. And by the way, sorrow over sin is not repentance. Sorrow over sin which leads to going back to Christ in confession—that’s repentance. Going back to Christ, turning away from sin. Sorrow over sin is simply that—feeling guilty for sin. But it’s not the whole of repentance.
Judas ultimately hanged himself, ended his own life because of his sin. I think back to Jesus telling Judas, what you’re about to do, go and do quickly. Judas would have walked out of a room and gone down steps into the dark. Imagine what was going on in his mind. Was there ever a time in his mind where he thought, I should go back. I should go back and tell him. I should go back and make it right. I’ll look like a fool. All the men will know that it was me planning on doing it. His pride got in the way of his confession and he kept going.
Listen, you know what Peter did in just a matter of hours? Peter betrayed Christ. Peter denied Christ three times. Peter, in that sense, did the same thing as Judas. We’ll see this at the end of John. Peter and some of the other disciples evidently go back to their life of fishing, go back to their previous occupation, and they see a man on the shore as they’re out in a boat. They see a man on the shore, and one of the disciples says that that’s Jesus.
Peter gets into the water, jumps into the water, throws himself into the water to swim to Jesus. There’s been a rift between him and Jesus. The same rift that existed between Judas and Jesus. Judas is too prideful to go back. Peter shows great humility and really jumps in the water, a rather humiliating thing for an ancient Near Eastern man to do. Jumps in the water, throws himself in the water to go and be right with Jesus. And probably through tears, three times affirms his devotion to Jesus, and Jesus draws it out of him. Draws it out of him.
If you have unconfessed sin, don’t deny it, don’t excuse it, don’t pretend it’s not there. Humble yourself and go back to Jesus. Jesus is the one who gives grace to the humble, but judgment for the proud.
I want to leave you with 2 Corinthians 7:10: “For godly grief [Peter] produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret.” I might have looked foolish when I swam in the water. I might have looked foolish when I told people what I did and made it right. They might have thought less of me in a sense, but I don’t care. I told Jesus what I did and he forgave me. Repentance without regret. “[G]odly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief [Judas] produces death.” Godly grief that leads to repentance is the opposite of worldly grief that leads to death. May we learn from the early days of Judas. Let’s pray.
Lord Jesus Christ, the reason we’re even here and praying to you, laying all of our needs before your feet, is because you are sovereign over all things. You know about sin. It doesn’t surprise you. You end up using it for your glory in ways that we could never imagine. You know what’s in the heart of every man, woman, and child. Lord, we are privileged to serve a sovereign God. Not a god who finds out more information, who sometimes gets defeated. We serve a God who is a conquering and sovereign King.
Lord Jesus Christ, this body loves you. Our church loves you. Lord, our church—we hate our sin. We want to be fully devoted to you. We look forward to heaven in that sense, but even now we ask for a continual washing of our feet as we track through this world getting them muddy. Renew us day by day. Please allow us to keep short accounts of the wrongs that we’ve done and enjoy the wonderful grace that you give us. We should in a sense at the same time be a serious people and a joyful people because we know of our still remaining sin, but we know of the grace that forgives it all. We pray all of this in your name. Amen.
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