We talked about this man a few days ago, but I thought it might be worthwhile for us to look at him one more time before we lay him to rest. He was hand-picked by Jesus, after our Lord spent the entire night in prayer, presumably asking the Father for guidance in choosing his apostles. That’s right—Judas was an answer to prayer. We examined some of the possible reasons why he did it about a week ago, but now I’d like to look at the aftermath of what he did.
I have to credit J. C. Ryle for this question, because it reveals an important point: Why did Judas not testify at Jesus’ trial? The Sanhedrin, I’m sure, would've loved to have the damning (even if false) testimony of one of Jesus’ inner circle of followers. If Judas could've stepped forward and claimed that Jesus was a hypocrite, a con-artist, or even worse, that would've been a gold-mine for Jesus' enemies. And it would've been in Judas's self-interest to exonerate himself in the eyes of others: “Sure I betrayed him, but I had good reason. He was involved in all these terrible sins and crimes. . .” But he didn’t. His last recorded words were "I have sinned for I have betrayed innocent blood." The only reason we can come up with is that Jesus was truly sinless.
Judas had all these privileges, and threw them all away. This should be a warning to all of us. Am I resting on mere knowledge, on my background, on privileges that God has given me? As Paul said, “Let us live up to what we have already attained.” Light which God has revealed to us--without our acting upon it--will only serve to condemn us.
We should also notice the nature of sin from this passage. Like the adulterous woman described in Proverbs, it appears to be smoother than oil, but in the end it’s as bitter as gall, sharp as a double-edged sword. The author of Hebrews says that its pleasures are “fleeting,” and that certainly was the case here. The problem is that while the pleasures are fleeting, it sticks you with the cost. He'd sold his soul for 30 pieces of silver, and they ended up on the temple floor. Sin promises big but never delivers. As our first parents learned to their sorrow--and as every person has learned ever since--sin will always end up taking you further than you’re willing to go and costing you more than you’re willing to pay.
Someone told me a long time ago that there are people in this world whose sole purpose in life is to provide a negative example for us to avoid. There’s no one else who fits that description more than this man. He stands as a sober warning to all pretenders, all mask-wearers, everyone who thinks that their God-given privileges are enough to save them, and everyone who's willing to put their own purposes above what God's told them to do. And that could include you or me. As Michael Card once put it in “Traitor’s Look”: “Now Judas don't you come too close/ I fear that I might see/ That traitor's look upon your face/ Might look too much like me/ Cause just like you I've sold the Lord and often for much less/ And like a wretched traitor I betrayed Him with a kiss.” Here's the song in full:
The good news is, with our Savior there’s forgiveness and restoration. All we have to do is come to him, just as we are, and he’ll welcome us back home.
Lord Jesus, even though I’ve sold you for even less than silver, you still love me, you still want to fellowship with me, and you pick me back up and clean me off. Thank you.