There are those among us, who are not of like nature yet in our number. We will see today the wiles of the enemy and know certainly who and whose we are; even from the eyes of Judas. He was counted among us. From the tribe of the conqueror being a son of Judah, a son of Simeon. His name Judas Iscariot (from iscara meaning quinsy or strangulation being told afore) appended by who also betrayed him. ‘What will you give me if I deliver him over to you?’ (Matt 26:15) You see every man is tempted when he is drawn away by his desire. Who has not winked at the allure of filthy lucre? The potency of desire is stronger when currency is attached, like a precious stone succeeding everywhere it turns. Who would be the greatest in the coming kingdom? That treasurer of Christ saw no more prospects in the ministry, so at the first opportunity he chose to make away with his master to serve another, having iniquity found in him. How is it that for those chosen the choices were wrong, many claiming Lord, Lord? Why did he value the Rabbi thirty pieces? The degree of calculation to buy a field with the price of innocent blood; when was it clear that the road traveled was no longer narrow but in the way ward council of the ungodly. The chief priests and officers whose watch it was over the temple and people of God were glad and agreed to give him money (Lu 23:25). Did he know he had lost the Way for a cloak of curses and covetousness, hatred for friendship? Since all the apostles were to carry everything they owned and owe no man love. They were sorrowful who genuinely asked, ‘Is it I Lord?’ (Mk 14:19) They were indignant at that memorial anointing of Jesus by Mary. Yet who wished to have the 300 dennari worth of spikenard to himself? (John 12:5-6)
Even my close friend whom I trusted, who ate my bread has lifted his heel against me (Psalms 55:13-14).
Who is the Lord that is able to forgive; astounds the agony of betrayal he endured, that without sin. Praying, ‘forgive them father for they know not what they are doing’.
For all intents and purposes the words, ‘he that betrays me has placed his hands in the bowl with me..do quickly whatever it is that you do,’ (John 13:26-27) cut deeper than after he had taken the morsel. Satan entered him deeper for service to Mammon. Then the power of darkness came and night fell that hour when the Son of Man was betrayed into the hands of sinners (Lu 22:53, Mk 14:41). Having turned the way of Cain to spill innocent blood even after gain for wrongdoing like Balaam (Ju 11). The hands that refused to shake the bribe, the hands that touched the Messiah plotted his end. Are not these the savage wolves that have entered the fold to devour, who have a form of godliness but deny the power thereof? Who were sent out to preach and cast out demons.
‘The one I will kiss is the man; seize him.’ (Mark 14:44)
Have we not all walked that way, even shared the guilt of him who was among the elect but forfeited his grace for a personal and temporal gain. For the deceitfulness of riches and the love of money a root got hold and gave ground to possession making him the son of another even perdition. So having gone that way he went to gather his accomplices and brethren; a great crowd with lanterns and torches, with swords and clubs. ‘Whom do you seek?’ Jesus has never turned away even one, feel the cold lips pressed against Him who said, ‘My friend why have you come?’ (Matt 26:50) Memories of that day when the Saviour called him must have rushed into the fore, he who said come follow me now asked, ‘do you betray the Son of Man with a kiss?’ (Lu 22:48)
Having walked, sailed, eaten and rested together there must have been things shared among them we cannot know. Whoever hates pretends with his lips and stores up hatred in his heart. When he speaks graciously believe him no for there are seven abominations in his heart (Pro 26:24-25). What is clear is that Judas saw the proceedings having led the lamb to slaughter; since he saw that Jesus was condemned to death he was distraught, all the while Peter wept bitterly; Judas sought to take back the silver.
Why did he take the most extreme measure? As tying an upper millstone to oneself and throwing that in unbelief into the sea. Like Saul choosing to fall on his own sword or Ahithophel who set his house in order and hung himself. Yet there was blood enough spilled at Calvary for the remission of all sins, scarcely will a man die for a good man let alone the ungodly. So to what extreme of alienation was he, so removed from the gift of grace and the liberty of truth? Where Peter himself walked in full knowledge that denial was eminent. How tortuous was it to know the Christ and still be in line to deny him. He chose to fall again upon the mercies of God. Thank Jesus who prayed; that once to restore us all that we too may strengthen the brethren (John 17:20-21, Lk 22:32).
What of his company who having known the end of those who offered strange fire on the Lord’s altar, who polluted justice with bribery, who failed to Fear God first and foremost? Who valued the increase on interest more than just actions? Do not bring the price of a dog, the wages of harlots into the Lord’s treasury (Deut 23:18). Have we gone the way of the Pharisees and Scribes valuing the treasury over life and souls? White washed tombs full of men’s bones and all corruption. Satan entered putting in Judas’ heart to betray the Child of God, the thief turned killer no longer to minister life but curses and death. Where were the disciples when Judas began to stray? How wary were they of his struggles and turmoil?
Peter is recorded as saying that Judas with the wages of injustice bought a field, the same where he was buried in a graveyard for strangers called the potters field (Acts 1:18). Reminding me of one Jezebel in 1 Kings 21:7-16 who said surely if you are the King in Israel then you must have the field of Naboth. The field given him by his fathers, even the Father in Heaven as an inheritance. You see it was definitively calculated, pay some-worthless sons of Belial to bear false witness, they had him dragged out and stoned then took the spoils. Imagine deceit that would have one imagine they have the power God himself has; to give and take. As surely as the innocent blood fell the prophet warned of the guilty blood to answer its very cry by the lick of dogs. It would be better if that man was never born. Judas schemed and calculated the perfect time to betray the Lord away from a crowd, when best can we do it? Like Mafia King pins who place a bounty on the heads of betrayers they counted Jesus among the transgressors. It is an old tradition to have the money set aside as a postmortem gift for the betrayer. What have we procured wrongly? What compensation is there for the offence, for the life lost?
How often have we chosen the broad way, the way indifferent to him who has called us? Where it is better to disguise oneself as a part of him when he never knew us? From then on he looked for an opportunity to betray Jesus. Let each one be mindful of those things of others, we have become exceedingly mindful of ourselves. Those hard words in red must pierce deeper the hearts hardened, ‘whoever loves his life shall loose it.‘ (John 12:25)
30 pieces of silver. What joy was there on securing the money? It is nothing the buyer says. Those who buy them slaughter them and go unpunished say, ‘blessed be the Lord for I am rich,’ and their own shepherds pity them not (Zech 11:4). If you think good give me my price and if not forbear. So they weighed for my price thirty pieces of silver. And the Lord said unto me, cast it into the potter a goodly price that I was prised at of them. And I took thirty pieces of sliver and cast them to the potter in the house of the Lord (Zech 11:11-14). The priests valued the Messiah as worth the ransom of a slave (Exo 21:32). The price of him that was cut off from his people. Breaking the covenant of brotherhood to institute another. Your precious money will bear witness against you, its rust and mold (Ja 5:3) began to crawl up the hands of betrayal eating his flesh like fire, no longer able to ascend the mount of the Lord, busy with many things which themselves would be taken, away he walked. He is condemned because of me. Running back with regret (a sorrowful burden over the past) not repentance to the very ones who made that pact with him. Not realizing how much more the price of Him was the ransom for all; yet a price on the blood was payed into his purse. ‘I have sinned by betraying innocent blood!’ (Matt 27:4) Seeing his sin greater than the blood that washes away all sins. How is it that we have drawn nigh the Lord? Have our hearts a treasure more dear than he that is all in all? Have we presented them to be sprinkled by that blood of the Lamb?
He repented himself a worldly sorrow that results only in death. Throw it back into their hands. Filthy money splashed at the feet of the leaders, money without place in the Temple. Call a board meeting to discuss what must be done.
Yet there were his betrayers and murderers saved.
The hypocrites made due with the wages to find a plot to bury him. That Gift of God without price more precious than all silver and gold, they have trodden underfoot the blood of the Lamb which sanctifies. Will you join ranks with those ready to fast for strife and murder? Fellowship with the table of devils and forsake that of the Lord? Will you buy Christ without price, selling all you have for the riches of his glorious grace? Will you count it loss except to have him? For you may gain the whole world and loose your soul. Will you cast every weight and sin that so easily besets at the place he was hung? For Godly sorrow works repentance unto salvation. Will you be given to the potter a vessel broken to be made again, buried in corruption to be raised incorruptible. Will you love him who being without sin was made a curse and hung between sinners? For God so loved the world that he gave his only son, that whosoever believes in him shall not perish but have life eternal. Today receive that life that is in His Son Jesus Christ.