A Lesson From Judas Iscariot

In each of the Gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John each give an account of Jesus life, His betrayal, His death, and His resurrection.   Now each of these accounts names Judas Iscariot as Jesus’ betrayer, that he did so for thirty pieces of silver from the Chief Priests and Scribes, and that upon seeing Jesus condemned, he tries to return the silver to them.

 

This is a very revealing and interesting part of scripture that is often glazed over or overlooked. Judas comes sad and ashamed for what he did, that he ‘betrayed innocent blood’ and that he is wanting to make things right or even repent for what he did.  Not only did Judas go to the people who he sinned with, but at the same time, he went to the Chief priests the scribes… These are the rulers of the people of Israel.  These are the ones that lead people into the presence of God.  These are the men who stand between God and man, and make intercession and sacrifices for the covering over of sins.

 

Yet these are the same men who also wanted to kill Jesus because of many reasons, including that He did not fear them, submit to them, and even called them on their sinful behaviors.  And their response to Judas is ‘what is this to us?’. Or in other words, that is not our problem that you sinned, we cannot help you – we won’t help you, and we will not intercede or sacrifice any animals for you.  You are on your own.

 

If this was their attitude, think about it for a minute. To the Jews In Israel there is not one else to stand between Judas and God, he is condemned and doomed to death.  Judas missed the point of what Jesus was teaching, that He is the sacrifice for the forgiveness of sins and the One to stand between God and man interceding.

 

While Judas feels condemned for his actions and is preparing to kill himself because he feels he has no way out, the Man he spent years with, who is his only true answer to forgiveness is being crucified. So if Judas felt remorse enough that he would have returned to Jesus and asked Him for forgiveness, he, like the other disciples did not understand what Jesus had told them ahead of time – that He would rise from the dead.

 

Thus Judas and Peter are actually in very similar situations.  Judas betrayed Jesus, but Peter did as well.  Yet Peter did not choose the same path that Judas did.  In his despair and realization from a Jewish perspective, that there was no way to be forgiven by God, Judas chooses to end his life. Judas missed the point of what Jesus was doing, and that he too could have received forgiveness as Peter had.

 

So do not thing that you have done something that Jesus will not forgive you for. He died for all sins, including yours.   All you have to do is ask Jesus into your heart and give a him your life.  It is as simple as saying “Jesus, I give you all I am, and ask You to forgive me for my sins.  I repent of them, and choose to follow after you instead.”

 

Let’s not expect to be perfect, but let’s be real for Him.

A Lesson From Pharaoh

Throughout the bible we see glimpses of Egypt, as an example to our own lives.

 

In the story of Joseph, we see God not only using Joseph to save Israel and Egypt from the severe famine, we also see Pharaoh being used.  God gives Pharaoh the dreams that Joseph interprets.  He also causes Pharaoh to pursue the answer to what the dream meant.  After all, I do not know about you, but I do not really try to find out what my dreams mean.  Or if I do wonder, I do not go asking everyone around me from the wisest to the man in prison.  When no one can interpret his dream, Pharaoh does not just give up or decide that it was just the food he ate last night.  God has placed a feeling or seed within him so he knows that this dream is important, and he better keep pursuing what it’s hidden meaning is.

 

Thus, when the cup bearer finally remembers his promise to Joseph, the Pharaoh of all Egypt is not thinking that an imprisoned slave cannot help him- he is open to whoever might be used to unlock this mystery.  This would be like the president of the united states pulling someone out of federal prison to interpret his dream.

 

Obviously Pharaoh had major relief of anxiety to not only release Joseph from prison, but to also make him second in command of all of Egypt.  From federal prison to vise president in a moment. But it also reveals one other important truth – whether or not Pharaoh believed in God or not, his heart was soft and open to God, because Joseph gave credit to God before he interpreted the dream – a dream that God gave to Pharaoh.

 

Now, because of this soft, open heart that Pharaoh had towards God, all Egypt is saved through Pharaohs actions.  And not only that but Egypt flourishes – at least from Pharaohs perspective, after all, at the end of the famine, he owns everything and everyone in Egypt.

 

Flash forward approximately 400 plus years.  Moses is confronting the current Pharaoh of Egypt.  Unlike this previous Pharaoh, the current Pharaoh hardens his heart to God, even being worshiped as a god himself.  Because of this hardness of heart, which God uses as an example to the world, Israel, and every generation since, Egypt is changed from the worlds strongest superpower to a wasteland.  And I would strongly contend that the condition Egypt was left in upon Israel’s departure were similar to, if not worse than, the conditions they would have experienced if they hard not been saved from the famine all those years before.

 

Ultimately, the contrast is between an open heart and attitude towards God and His leading, and a closed or hard heart towards God.  The first brought provision and supreme blessing, while the latter brought judgement and destruction.

 

Let me ask you this: are we, the United States, above this same principle? Or is any other country for that matter?  I dare say no, we are not.

 

Egypt was blessed and prospered for many centuries after the initial act of Pharaoh and Joseph, even after the Pharaohs after turned the Israelites into slaves.

 

America too, has been blessed beyond what our founders could possibly have dreamed.  Established with God at the center and heart of the nation, America has been  built up into the world superpower of it’s day, just as Egypt was. And just like the Pharaoh in the days of Moses, our government too is hardening it’s heart towards God and turning it’s back on Him.  Do we think that we are better than Egypt or in someway the rules do not apply to us? Many nations have gone before us.  Just the time that Israel was in Egypt was 400 years, and Egypt existed long before that – yet we have lasted a snipped in time in comparison to them.

 

I am not saying that America must cease to exist, but before calamity came upon them, their leader – Pharaoh was given a choice: to acknowledge God and that He has ultimate authority over every nation, or to raise himself up as equal or above God. The Bible tells us which Pharaoh chose.

 

Today I put before you a choice. Blessing and cursing… Choose life that you may live.

A Place to Start

Why do so many pastors and churches think of find it necessary to dumb down the Word of God for their congregation?  Is it because they are trying to ‘leave no one behind?’ or is it because it is the easier to write the sermon?

 

Paul says that he wishes that he could feed the people he is writing to more than milk.  That they we more than just babes in their faith.  So who is responsible to grow the people up in the church? Is a baby satisfied with just milk?  Of course they are.  But is an adult or a youth satisfied with just milk?  I doubt it.  In fact, a youth that is constantly growing…  They are constantly in need to food, and that food is milk for their bones, yes, but also steak, burgers, chicken, etc.  What they need to devour is substance.

 

Thus the next question is, who is the Sunday morning Christian church service for, or do we actually have the wrong idea of a church service?  After all, if we feed the congregation just milk’ the babes will be fine, content and happy, but the youth and the adults will be starving.

 

Well, that is what midweek and bible studies are for? Well, then should the babes come to the bible studies?  Should the adults and youth then come to Sunday morning services?  No, babes should be fed, but they should also be challenged to try and begin to eat solid food.  Every baby is eventually weaned. Every baby eventually starts eating mush, then small morsels of food, then solids.  So, should it be any different for spiritual babes? No, in fact I would challenge that spiritual babes should be weaned and taught to eat solids far quicker than real babies.

 

Thus a Sunday service should be more than milk, although it should have some milk.  It should also have some mush, some small morsels, and even some steak.  Then everyone in that service is fed, and every level of spiritual maturity is challenged and taught to eat and digest the next level of food that is available to them.

 

We as Americans especially have a consumer mentality.  Our entire economy is based on a consumer setup.  We are taught through commercials, the internet, movies, and even friends who have what we don’t, to always want more, to never be satisfied, and to be constantly buying and throwing away.  Thus the stores that sell televisions for example, never go out of business due to there not being a need for a new television, because people are constantly needing one for another room of their house, or always upgrading from the one they had before.

 

What does that mean for the local and national church?  That having a consumer mentality ingrained into us from outside the church, very easily comes into the church.  It is about the person in the pew, or other form of padded seat.  Did the message meet their expectations, dazzle them, or at least make them feel good about themselves for another week?

 

The church pew is not the place to stop, it is the place to start.