Avoiding Judas - Believing Loyalty
Open with Prayer
Call Scripture reader forward
Couple housekeeping items… first time using this, handout, publish.
While he was still speaking, there came a crowd, and the man called Judas, one of the twelve, was leading them. He drew near to Jesus to kiss him, but Jesus said to him, “Judas, would you betray the Son of Man with a kiss?” And when those who were around him saw what would follow, they said, “Lord, shall we strike with the sword?” And one of them struck the servant of the high priest and cut off his right ear. But Jesus said, “No more of this!” And he touched his ear and healed him. Then Jesus said to the chief priests and officers of the temple and elders, who had come out against him, “Have you come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs? When I was with you day after day in the temple, you did not lay hands on me. But this is your hour, and the power of darkness.”
Last week Don preached about the Greatest Prayer, this week we are going to turn 180 degrees and learn about the Greatest Betrayer.
I think we have all experienced some form of betrayal in our lives: a private matter hitting the town gossip train, being promised a promotion at work that was given to someone else, letting someone “borrow” an item or money for a “short time” only to see months and years go by without seeing it returned. Or maybe it was someone you thought was a friend, someone who was supposed to be there for you, to have your back, and when you needed them most they weren’t there.
What makes betrayal, betrayal? Betrayal doesn’t occur unless there is some expectation of Loyalty. This person is loyal to me, I’ve been loyal to them, they believe in me like I believe in them, I can trust them, their my friend, my family, they have my best interest at heart, they would never turn their back on me, they would never harm me.
If a stranger you meet on the street does something to harm you, while you may be angry, you won’t consider it betrayal. They were a stranger, you had no expectation of loyalty and belief. You don’t know them, they don’t know you. But, if a friend or family member does something to harm you, that is a different story entirely - that’s betrayal.
It is safe to say there is no shortage of betrayal in this world. But, all of those betrayals pale in comparison to what Judas does to Jesus. Judas is worse than the friend who turns their back on you when needed most, Judas doesn’t just turn his back, he actively seeks Jesus’ harm. John 18 tells us that Judas procured a band of soldiers and some officers from the chief priests and Pharisees. Judas is not passive in this betrayal - he goes out and rounds up the posse and actively leads them to Jesus.
While the account of Judas’ betrayal is shocking and stunning, what is probably more shocking and stunning is Jesus’ response - or lack thereof - to Judas’ betrayal. While I don’t know about you, if I were betrayed like that, I probably would have some unkind things to say to my betrayer. Matthew 26 has the fullest accounting of Judas’ betrayal. When Judas greets Jesus calling him “Rabbi” and kisses Him, Jesus doesn’t scold him, doesn’t berate him, Jesus says “Friend, do what you came to do.”
Really? Jesus calls him “friend?” Could this be sarcasm? Possibly, but I don’t think so. Even in the midst of this betrayal of unbelief, the patience and mercy of Jesus is on display; the believing loyalty of Jesus toward the Father is on full display.
With that, let’s dive into today’s text ...
English Standard Version (Luke 22:47–48)
While he was still speaking, there came a crowd, and the man called Judas, one of the twelve, was leading them. He drew near to Jesus to kiss him, but Jesus said to him, “Judas, would you betray the Son of Man with a kiss?”
You might ask - Why is this happening?
In Acts, Peter tells us the betrayal had to occur:
Acts 1:16-20; Psalm 69:18-28; Psalm 109:3-8; Is 53:10
Acts 1:16-20 Brothers, the Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit spoke beforehand by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus. For he was numbered among us and was allotted his share in this ministry... For it is written in the Book of Psalms, ‘May his camp become desolate, and let there be no one to dwell in it’; and ‘Let another take his office.’
Here Peter is quoting Psalm 69 and Psalm 109.
Interestingly, in Psalm 69 we see, You know my reproach, and my shame and my dishonor; my foes are all known to you. Reproaches have broken my heart, so that I am in despair. I looked for pity, but there was none, and for comforters, but I found none.
In Psalm 109 we see: “They encircle me with words of hate, and attack me without cause. In return for my love they accuse me, but I give myself to prayer. So they reward me evil for good, and hatred for my love.
And those two verses remind me of Isaiah 53 that we read a couple weeks ago:
Is 53:10 Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for guilt...
So, why the betrayal? Because the Holy Spirit, by the mouth of David, foretold of Judas’ betrayal, and through Isaiah He said it was God’s will.
With all of that, you might be asking yourself,
If God said it was going to happen, then how is Judas to blame?
I’m glad you asked! This is a legitimate question. If God decreed this betrayal, then, wouldn’t it seem logical that God should be responsible and not Judas?
Yes, but only yes IF you equate foreknowledge with predestination.
For those who say fore-pre-what? Stick with me this will make sense
Predestined vs. Foreknowledge
To answer this question we must understand the difference between predestination and foreknowledge.
PREDESTINATION God’s foreordination (predetermining or commanding) of a particular action, destiny, or task.
In other words, predestination means God determines what you are going to do and you have no choice in the matter.
FOREKNOWLEDGE Knowledge of something before it exists or happens.
In this case, God knew Judas was going to betray Jesus beforehand. (a few hundred years beforehand!)
Just because there is foreknowledge of something, it does not mean it is predestined.
Just because God knew Judas was going to betray Jesus does not mean that Judas was a robot with no free will. Even though God knew beforehand, Judas freely chose to betray Jesus, and, therefore, is fully responsible for his actions. While God used Judas’ bad actions for good, neither God nor Satan turned Judas into a robot without free will to choose to do right or wrong.
Even though God foretold of Judas’ betrayal, and even though it was God’s will that Jesus be betrayed, Judas is responsible for his actions.
Also, in Jesus’ response to the religious leaders, we see this Son of Man phrase -
Why did Jesus refer to himself here as the “Son of Man?”
(He uses this term of himself no less than 73 times in the Gospels)
Jesus uses this term to refer to His divinity.
Dan 7:13-14; Ps 80:17-18; Rev 1:12-16; Rev 14:14;
One final note about the betrayal - Why a kiss?
Traditionally in the Graeco-Roman world, an intimate practice such as kissing was reserved only for close family members, often only those of the same gender. Parents would kiss their children, and married couples would kiss one another.
Proverbs 27:6; Psalm 2:12; 1 Sam 10:1; 1 Peter 5:14;
Yet, Judas’ kiss conveyed the opposite of the affection, respect and love a kiss signified in that culture.
To paraphrase Jesus, “Judas, would you pretend to be family while betraying God?” OR “Would you treat me like family while betraying me?”
Now that we understand the “what” of the betrayal, let’s take a look at the “why.”
Neither the disciples, nor Judas, nor the religious leaders truly understood, at the time, what was going on. They did not understand who Jesus was or the plan of God.
It is easy, on this side of history to look at Judas, the disciples and the religious leaders and think, “How could you not understand?!” Jesus said this was going to happen - multiple times. They had the scriptures, right?
Yes, they did, but they didn’t have the cross yet, they hadn’t seen Jesus tried and flogged, and, most importantly, they hadn’t witnessed the resurrection.
In WWII, one of Germany’s greatest tools was their Enigma Machine. It was a machine that would take a message and encode it so that, if intercepted, it could not be read. In order to decipher a message, the receiver had to have the right key to use the right settings to decode the message they received.
Before Jesus, the plan of salvation in the scriptures was largely an enigma. Without the benefit of Jesus’ life, death, burial and resurrection, you didn’t have the “key” to unlock the meaning of scripture.
Jesus is just like an Enigma Machine decipher key - but for the Old Testament; he is the key for unlocking the clear message hidden in the Old Testament revealing God’s plan for redemption. Much like Jesus giving the cryptic directions about how to find the house where they would celebrate passover - in order to keep Judas from ruining the Passover meal - on a much larger scale, God gave cryptic directions about the plan of redemption in order to thwart Satan and prevent him from interfering. (had Satan understood…)
Once you have the key - Jesus - it is very easy to look back at the OT testament and clearly see how plainly God declared what He was doing. But, if you don’t have Jesus, you will fumble around groping in the dark trying to decipher God’s redemptive plan.
We are going to see some groping around in the dark in these next passages.
The Disciples Did Not Understand
The Disciples Did Not Understand
English Standard Version (Luke 22:49–51)
And when those who were around him saw what would follow, they said, “Lord, shall we strike with the sword?” And one of them struck the servant of the high priest and cut off his right ear. But Jesus said, “No more of this!” And he touched his ear and healed him.
John tells us the sword swinger is Peter, but I think it could have probably any of the 11 (maybe not John). This is what they wanted, they wanted the overthrow, the war, the rebellion, to begin. They have Jesus as their King, the one who raises the dead (no worry about getting impaled on a sword when Jesus is around), heals the sick, makes the lame walk, and even the demons and the wind and the waves obey his command. With Jesus in the lead, all we need is two small swords, two Bowie knives, and we can conquer the world!
They do not understand because they want to see the Kingdom brought in by the sword - by violent overthrow - that’s all they know - its the way of the world.
The Kingdom of Jesus is established by humility, love, patience, belief and loyalty - not violence.
Jesus’ loyalty to the Father (not My will but Yours be done) and His loyalty to you and me through His patience and unwaivering love displayed on the cross - that’s what ushered in the Kingdom, not worldly violence.
Our hope, our salvation, comes through the injustice of His suffering; the righteous for the unrighteous, the holy for the unholy, the sinless one sacrificing and suffering, on our behalf, the just wrath of God due for each of our sins.
Jesus suffered violence, humiliation and the very wrath of God on our behalf. He suffered God’s wrath because we are unable to, and, in doing so, brought glory to God and peace to you and me.
No, the disciples did not understand at this time, but, they believe Jesus, and they are loyal to Jesus, and they will understand within a few short days.
The Religious Leaders Did Not Understand
The Religious Leaders Did Not Understand
English Standard Version (Luke 22:52–53)
Then Jesus said to the chief priests and officers of the temple and elders, who had come out against him, “Have you come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs? When I was with you day after day in the temple, you did not lay hands on me. But this is your hour, and the power of darkness.”
What hardness of heart must one have to see Jesus display his power in healing the servant of the High Priest, yet still arrest him as a rebel.
They came with swords and clubs because they actually believed Jesus intended to lead a rebellion against the Romans. And with the initial reaction of Peter, we can see why.
Israel had a long history of rebellions against Roman rule -
These rebellions always met with defeat and retribution against Israel by Rome
At this time, Israel’s politico-religious leaders (Sanhedrin) enjoyed an uneasy peace with the Roman rule as they had kept rebellions from taking root and enjoyed a certain measure of freedom under Roman rule because of this
They did not want this status quo upset
Remember, the seat of their authority centered in the Temple
This same Temple is where throngs of people gathered to hear Jesus teach.
Jesus was so venerated by the people that the religious leaders were afraid to arrest him at the temple - they feared that if they did they would have a riot on their hands - this is why they are arresting him at night in the garden.
This is why they came out to the garden with swords and clubs. Despite everything they had seen and heard to the contrary, the rebellion story was a convenient excuse for them not to believe Jesus. Jesus was a threat to their status quo; He was an inconvenient truth.
In how Luke crafts this narrative, he is pushing you and I to make a choice, to decide who you are going to believe, to decide where your loyalty lies. Which side do YOU choose? Jesus, or your status quo?
Judas Did Not Understand (Or did he?)
Judas Did Not Understand (Or did he?)
What was Judas thinking? Why? How could Judas do this!?
I don’t know, and this side of the grave we will never know for certain why Judas betrayed Jesus. What we do know is that, despite spending three years with Jesus, Judas still lacked belief, and he lacked loyalty, or, instead, he forsook his belief and loyalty, instead he let the things of this world dominate his thinking and control his decisions. Judas turned away from the One True God.
Was Judas always just “along for the ride?” Did he change his tune when things started looking serious, when Jesus said the rulers were going to kill him, and when Judas knew that the rulers were looking for a way to kill Jesus? Did he decide to betray him then - thinking it was an issue of saving himself from Jesus’ fate?
Was Judas’s faith like the seed that fell among the rocks and sprang up quickly, but with shallow roots, and as soon as looked like things were going to get tough, his belief withered away because his root - his loyalty - was shallow? Because his fear of man was greater than his fear of God?
Or, maybe Judas did understand what Jesus had been saying? Did he understand that Jesus did not intend to overthrow the Roman oppressors by force, and because of that, he harbored resentment because he wanted to see a revolution - to see Rome vanquished. Maybe he thought Jesus was a waste of time; that He was leading everybody astray because they all thought He was going to lead an armed rebellion?
Did Judas think that with Jesus out of the way one of them, maybe himself (as he was Jesus’ right hand man) could lead the rebellion fortified by the crowds who had thronged around Jesus in the temple?
Was Judas’ faith like the seed that fell among thorns and thistles? It sprang up and its roots went down, but the thorns and thistles, the concerns of life (in this case Judas’ politics), sprang up and choked off his belief because his roots - his loyalty - was based on convenience? Because he cared more about the world than about God?
In the parable of the sower there are two other options - the seed that fell along the path which is someone who hears and does not understand, so the evil one snatches away what had been sown, and, the seed sown on good soil which bears fruit.
I don’t think either of those apply to Judas. I think he had some measure of believing loyalty at one time or another, maybe even up to the triumphal entry. Arguably, Judas healed people when he was sent out with the others. He ministered alongside Jesus and the other disciples for years. If he didn’t have some measure of belief and loyalty, I don’t think he would have stayed.
But, whether out of fear of man, or the cares and riches of this world, Judas made a conscious choice to rebel and be disloyal to Jesus - he made a willful decision to turn from Jesus. Judas lacked Believing Loyalty and it lead to his destruction.
Before I jump into the final section of the message tonight, lets look at a couple definitions… Believing Loyalty
Believing: to accept as true or real; faith.
Loyalty: Devoted attachment and affection; trust.
You have heard me mention the phrase “Believing Loyalty” a few times this evening, and you may be asking yourself, “what does Jay mean?” I did not invent the phrase, I have to credit Dr. Michael Heiser for that (and his wonderful teaching), but in my almost 30 years in following Jesus, it is the most succinct phrase I have heard that sums up what our response to the Gospel should be. It is a simple way to gauge whether your eternal destiny is secure or it is not. Do you believe Jesus, and are you Loyal to him? Do you have Believing Loyalty.
Both are required for eternal security. If you have belief but no loyalty, you are just like the demons referenced in James 2:19. If you have loyalty but no belief, you are just going through the motions, engaging in religion for the sake of religion.
Works - religion - can’t save you - because works don’t work. You must believe Jesus is who he claimed to be - the One True God - and then affectionately devote your life to Him. If you have Believing Loyalty, you are eternally secure, if not, you aren’t.
When Jesus declared, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” He was declaring that He was the One True God - the same God who Able sacrificed to, Enoch walked with, Noah obeyed, Abraham believed, Isaac trusted, and Jacob followed - the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; the God of the Exodus; the God of Glory.
Throughout the Old Testament, belief and loyalty to the One True God was THE key factor determining one’s eternal destiny. It was not moral perfection, it was not ritual purity, or one’s family lineage. Believing (or faithful) Loyalty is what was accounted to Abraham, and every other Old Testament saint, as righteousness. This is how a murderous adulterer like David can be referred to as being a man after God’s own heart - because of his Believing Loyalty to the One True God - not his moral failings and imperfections.
1 Sam 13:14, Hebrews 11
The key to the Old Covenant was Believing Loyalty. This has not changed with the New Covenant just instituted by Jesus at the Passover Meal. Jesus changed nothing from that equation - other than putting a human face to the One True God.
Jesus fulfilled everything in the Law, Prophets and Writings. He left no doubt about his identity as the One True God, and He declared that the only way to God, the only way to have your sins and rebellious nature covered in righteousness, the only way to forgiveness and renewal, the only way to enter the Kingdom and be adopted into the family of God, is through Believing Loyalty to Him - Jesus - the One True God.
We rebelled against God in the Garden, we turned away in unbelief and betrayal, and like the Prodigal son’s father, Jesus is patiently waiting for every single one of us to repent - like the Prodigal - and return to Him in Believing Loyalty.
Remember, you must have both Belief and Loyalty for eternal security - if you do, you can be confident of your salvation, your eternal security even when you screw up.
Why can I confidently say that?
Because that which is not gained through moral perfection, cannot be lost by moral imperfection. In other words, because you are not saved by being “perfect,” you do not become unsaved, or lose your salvation, by being “imperfect.”
This does not mean you can just go out and sin as you please “because Jay said I can’t lose my salvation by sinning.” Paul expressly addresses this argument in Romans 6:1-11. Anyone who wants to go sin, because they think it is OK or fun or otherwise, is not being Loyal to Jesus - as he said, “If you love me, obey my commands.”
This brings me to the sensitive topic of whether or not someone can lose their salvation. I want to preface this by saying this is an open-handed issue. If you don’t agree with what I’m about to say, that is fine. I’m more than willing to discuss the matter if you like.
So, what about Judas and his turning from Jesus? Or, what about the person who once was following Jesus, who Believed in Him and expressed affectionate devotion to him in word and deed, but now they don’t. They abandon their believing loyalty and chase after another god, or no god at all. What about them?
Those who have known me for a long time know that I have traditionally fallen into the “once saved always saved” camp - a very traditional Calvinistic view. I would be quick to quote you John 10:28 about Jesus saying those He gives life to, no one will snatch them out of my hand. But if you asked me to address Romans 11 about natural branches being broken off (the Jews) and wild branches (Gentiles) being grafted in with the warning that those wild branches can still be broken off - I’d have to do some serious verbal gymnastics to explain..
Romans 11:20-23 “That is true. They were broken off because of their unbelief, but you stand fast through faith. So do not become proud, but fear. For if God did not spare the natural branches, neither will he spare you. Note then the kindness and the severity of God: severity toward those who have fallen, but God’s kindness to you, provided you continue in his kindness. Otherwise you too will be cut off. And even they, if they do not continue in their unbelief, will be grafted in, for God has the power to graft them in again.”
Today, I am saying that, as best as I understand scripture, right now, yes, a person can lose their salvation because salvation is based upon Believing Loyalty. That Believing Loyalty has to be a free decision of the will - if it isn’t, then you don’t have either belief or loyalty, all you are left with is being a robot. If you can chose to believe, you can chose not to believe - just like I think Judas did.
But, losing ones salvation does not happen by being imperfect. Remember, salvation is not based on being perfect, so it can’t be lost by being imperfect. This view is contrary to how some people - particularly in the Charismatic realm - treat this issue where they think “I sinned today - oh no, I lost my salvation!” Thinking that way does not line up with any scripture and is a recipe for psychosis.
Losing salvation is based on a conscious decision of the will to give your loyalty to another god, or no god at all. Those who disavow, or refuse to acknowledge, Jesus, will not be acknowledged by Him. Jesus says as much to the disciples in Matt 10:32-33 “So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.”
Believing Loyalty is the key. If you have it, you are secure, if you don’t, you aren’t.
So, what about this person who has lost their salvation, can they get it back. I’ll throw my hat in with Paul on that question - because in Romans 11 he says they can. Someone here today, or maybe listening later, may say “What about Hebrews 6:4-6?”
For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt.
To that question, I would say this passage doesn’t say they can’t be saved again. It says if you reject Jesus, there is nothing more God has to offer you - He has given Himself for you; God is saying, “if sacrificing Myself for you isn’t enough for you, there is nothing more I have to give; you’re on your own.” I’m here to tell you, that is a bad place to be.
If a person turns to Jesus in Believing Loyalty, regardless of how bad they have been, or how bad they have behaved, they will be eternally secure in the family of God - even if they have previously turned away. The Prodigal can always return home.
If you have Believing Loyalty in Jesus, you’re in, you’re secure, you’re adopted into the family of God and into His Kingdom; your sins, failings and imperfections are covered in Jesus’ righteousness, your debt is paid - your ledger no longer has red ink. If you don’t have Believing Loyalty, you’re on your own and you are under God’s wrath to pay a debt you can never pay.
The choice is yours - Jesus or Judas, who do you chose?
EXTRA - Why God’s Wrath
EXTRA - Why God’s Wrath
What is God’s wrath?
Wrath: divine anger, indignation, rage or fury as retribution or punishment for an offense: divine chastisement.
In other words - you be bad, God be mad.
Understand this idea of God’s wrath or anger is the biblical authors’ attempt to use examples of human emotions to describe the consequences of turning from or disobeying God - the consequences of being disloyal.
Why is wrath necessary?
Without wrath there is no justice. Without justice there is no right or wrong. Without right and wrong there is no good. Without good, then everything is pointless.
Any concept of God without wrath is an unjust god, it is, a bad god. If the thieves, the rapists, the murderers, the Hitlers of history, are not punished for their evil, then there is no justice for their victims. If there is no wrath - then go do whatever you want because it does not matter.
Fortunately, we were created by a God who does execute wrath on injustice. Because of this, every human being on the face of the planet is born understanding that wrong and right do exist and wrath is a natural consequence wrongdoing. This innate understanding of wrath, on the whole, keeps the world from ripping apart at the seams.
The times in history when satan has duped people or nations into forgetting the wrath of God, the fear of God, bad things like genocide and slaughter follow. Without the just wrath of God, all we are left with is might makes right, the ends justify the means, Darwin’s survival of the fittest, anything goes because there is no right or wrong.
A world without God’s wrath is a hopeless and evil world. You and I, and every other person in history, have committed offenses justifying God’s wrath. We have all been disloyal, we have all been deceitful, toward God and toward others. Maybe we have not physically killed millions, or even one other person, but we have all murdered by hating others, we have all lied, we have all coveted and stolen, we have all gossiped and slandered, we have all been judgmental and bigoted, been prideful - we’ve all sinned in a hundred other ways.
If you think you are without sin, that’s a lie, and that’s a sin - welcome to the sinner’s club! Now you too, like the rest of us, need Jesus!