Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall
John 6:71a (Holman) “He was referring to Judas, Simon Iscariot’s son, . . .”
The New Testament writers and Christian history have viewed Judas as the epitome of treachery. This sermon will look at Judas through his own eyes.
We will let him testify in his own behalf. How did Judas view himself? Let=s hear his testimony, as found in Matthew 27:3-5.
Matthew 27:3-5 Then Judas, His betrayer, seeing that He had been condemned, was full of remorse and returned the 30 pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders. AI have sinned by betraying innocent blood,@ he said. AWhat=s that to us?@ they said. ASee to it yourself!@ So he threw the silver into the sanctuary and departed. Then he went and hanged himself.
Testimony one, I have sinned. Once the deed was set off a little, Judas was able to see it in its fullest meaning.
When committing a sin, we are often too near it to realize its full effect. Once we take a step back, we are often shocked by the deed which gave us a sense of frenzied joy.
There is a drastic difference in the look of a sin before and after we do it. Temptations blur our vision, yielding destroys it, guilt restores it.
The sight of flesh is short, carnal, and cloudy. The sight of conscience pierces to the depths of the soul.
In advance, the sin is attractive, the transgression seems insignificant. When we have done it, the sin is ugly, monstrous.
Throw the thirty pieces of silver away, imagine the sin didn=t happen, hope it was a dream, pray for the death of memory. But the evil remains and lives, haunting our very souls. We make our own ghosts.
Testimony two, I have betrayed. Judas called himself a traitor. Repulsed at what he had done, Judas now hated himself more than he loved life itself.
The chief of sinners became the chief of sufferers. When he saw the consequences of his deed, he sank into intolerable self-condemning shame. He will give blood for blood, and be glad to find solace in death.
Judas was a man with a conscience, in fact, a very strong conscience. Once his deed was done his conscience became his murderer. Had he listened to his conscience sooner, it would have been a helper rather than an assassin.
As conscience began pressing its dagger to Judas= chest, he felt compelled to do something. He had left the Garden without a word, but now a fire raged within. Feeling a need to respond somehow, he returned to his co-conspirators.
Not even the priests gave him sympathy. They were hypocrites, as vile as he. The men who killed Jesus would not accept blood money. What perversion, murder was okay, but accepting money for murder was taboo.
These bogus shepherds had no concern for a sheep bearing a burden of treachery. As priests, they should have been helping anyone struggling with a wounded conscience, but had only scorn for him.
Judas went to the wrong people. His warmest welcome would have been given by Jesus. Had he gone to Christ, there would have been forgiveness.
Testimony three, Jesus is innocent. Once the fever and insanity of his crime passed, Judas remembered Jesus= righteousness.
This traitor gave Jesus the highest compliment possible, Ainnocent blood.@ Had there been any flaw in Jesus, Judas would have used it as a salve for his stricken conscience, and would have spread it abroad.
Judas= own final testimony in favor of Jesus, in its own way, is as valuable as that of any of the 12. His suicide evidences the fact his conduct had been unjustifiable. None of the 12 has borne more distinct testimony to the truth Jesus is the Sinless One.
Testimony four, I hanged myself. The difference between the disciple who denied Jesus and the disciple who betrayed Jesus is, the one who went out and wept bitterly knew the Lord was with him, the other could see nothing but the foul deed glaring before him.
We cannot think too much or too negatively of our sins, but we can think too exclusively of them, and if we do they will drive us to madness.
No penitence or remorse is deep enough to compensate for the smallest transgression. No sin is too horrible for forgiveness to be granted.
Judas died without hope and without pardon, not because his crime was too awful to be forgiven, but because he never asked for forgiveness. The regret he showed was merely remorse of conscience. Had he truly repented of sin, forgiveness would have resulted.
Note the tragedy here. Physical death was not what Judas needed to do. He did not find help or relief in it.
Suicide was merely his entrance into a world of everlasting remorse. How terrible it would be to spend eternity in Hell, remembering the last person you kissed was Jesus Christ.
What happened to Judas= spirit after death was perfectly pictured in the terrible desecration that befell his body after death. AFalling headfirst, he burst open in the middle, and all his insides spilled out@ (Acts 1:18b). Also befitting was Peter=s haunting words, AJudas left to go to his own place@ (Acts 1:25b).
No wonder Jesus said, AIt would have been better for that man if he had not been born@ (Matthew 26:24b). The same epitaph can be written on the tomb of every person who dies without Jesus.
None of us can separate ourselves from Judas. It could happen to anyone. Peter himself would thrice deny he knew Jesus.
The veteran, the most valiant soldier, the leader, the pastor B all should repeatedly ask ALord, is it I?@ Our human nature is identical to Judas=. In him we see a possibility of our self.
To the last moment Judas was openly an admirable person. At the table no one asked, ALord, is it Judas?@
He had drawn no suspicion on himself. His thievery was evidently a secret hidden from the Twelve till later on.
It is solemn to think one who wears good character may have a wicked heart. ALord, is it I?@ They who ask the question last are often the ones who should have asked it first.
ALord, is it I?@ is the right spirit in which to live. The strongest can fall, the oldest can betray trust. We cannot repeat the literal crime of Judas, but there are other forms of the same deed.
Our Lord has been betrayed millions of times. We cannot nail Him to a cross, but can pierce Him through with sorrows.