Tuesday, April 03, 2007



Judas has to be one of the most enigmatic characters you’ll ever observe. He chose to be a disciple of Jesus. Jesus chose him to be a follower. He was involved in, at least, two missions of healing and performing miracles. He was on the inside of the inner 12 and had been chosen to be the group’s treasurer. Then at the Passover season, when the opportunity presented itself for him to deliver Jesus into the hands of the Jewish leadership, he seized upon the moment with the promise of being handsomely paid for it. Let’s look at it:

Now the Festival of Unleavened Bread, called the Passover, was approaching, and the chief priests and the teachers of the law were looking for some way to get rid of Jesus, for they were afraid of the people. Then Satan entered Judas, called Iscariot, one of the Twelve. And Judas went to the chief priests and the officers of the temple guard and discussed with them how he might betray Jesus. They were delighted and agreed to give him money. He consented, and watched for an opportunity to hand Jesus over to them when no crowd was present.

No doubt Judas was following Jesus as were the others with a political motive, but he seems to embrace that image more than the others. He was watching the money bag and he knew all of the inner workings of the group. He probably had many thoughts as to how this movement was going to go and grow. However, when he saw that the movement was not gaining the proper endorsements from the Jewish leadership and the tide of opinion of those who could make the decisions for the nation was all going against Jesus, Judas was wide open to a better deal.

It was a little thing at first. But then when we come to the story of John 12 where Mary was “wasting” the expensive perfume on Jesus, that seems to be the straw that changed everything. Think of it this way:

Sow a thought and reap a deed; Sow a deed and reap a character; Sow a character and reap a destiny.

It was a little seed that was sown in Judas, but it grew. Judas became a traitor the same way any of us may become a traitor to Jesus—by compromising secretly in the mind just that one time too many. It’s also difficult to know how his background played into this. Judas was the only one of the Twelve who was not from Galilee. He was from the south near Jerusalem.

NOTE that in John 13 Jesus washed the feet of Judas as He did the others. He didn’t discriminate against him. In fact, theoretically, Judas might have changed his mind after this dramatic act of love and servitude Jesus displayed.

NOTE a few observations: FIRST—You can take comfort in the fact that when you choose someone to come alongside, you may lose this person as did Jesus.

SECOND—Theoretically, anyone of the disciples might have played the role of Judas. But for the grace of God, right? I am convinced that any one of us is capable of doing almost anything at any time. No one is exempt.

THIRD—There are always two ways to go—your way and Jesus’ way. When Judas no longer trusted in Jesus’ way, he was vulnerable to whatever opportunity presented itself.

You see, Jesus was on a mission no matter how impractical that mission seemed to be. Jesus’ ways are not our ways. And no matter how much evidence seems to stack up against what Jesus says to be and to do, His way is the best. Or, to put it more succinctly, HE IS THE WAY. It’s not what you believe or what you think is best; it’s all about the person of Jesus, the great I AM.

Judas ended his life in a pile of depression. He made the fatal mistake of trying to make something of his life without Jesus, therefore he lost his way and his self-esteem was obliterated. When he stopped following Jesus, he lost his way and his identity. This reminds me of a most profound saying, “You cannot know who you are, until you know whose you are.”



NOW, Jesus seems to move toward the subject of the end of the world. NOTE the cataclysmic nature of the signs:

"There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars. On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea. People will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken. At that time they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near."

He told them this parable: "Look at the fig tree and all the trees. When they sprout leaves, you can see for yourselves and know that summer is near. Even so, when you see these things happening, you know that the kingdom of God is near.

Jesus uses the parable of the fig tree. He is saying that just as leaves on a fig tree signify that summer is near, so, too, when you see these signs happening, you can know that the Kingdom of God in all its fullness is near.

As we have been discussing, most everything Jesus teaches and is concerned about is about the Kingdom. We have come to believe that Jesus introduced the Kingdom when He came saying, “The Kingdom is here, near and among you.” He instructed His disciples to pray, “Thy Kingdom come.” However, even though the Kingdom is present through Jesus, the King of kings, we are seeing the Kingdom and its effects emerging gradually. And, someday we will experience the Kingdom in its fullness. This is what Jesus is referring to here.

"Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.

What does Jesus mean “this generation” will not pass away until all of these signs have happened? Well, “generation” could mean several things. It could mean simply descendants, a group of people born at the same time, or a period of time. So, “this generation” could mean the people living in Jesus’ day and they will see the fulfillment of the tragic fall of Jerusalem. Another popular view is that “this generation” means the Jewish people will not be destroyed and will exist right to the end.

The answer to “this generation” is certainly not clear. I tend to think Jesus is saying that the generation that sees these cataclysmic signs will also see the end of the world. And, He goes on to point out that the heavens and the earth will pass away but His word would endure forever.

"Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with dissipation, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you suddenly like a trap. For it will come on all those who live on the face of the whole earth. Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man."

Each day Jesus was teaching at the temple, and each evening he went out to spend the night on the hill called the Mount of Olives, and all the people came early in the morning to hear him at the temple.

Jesus ends His remarks about the signs of the destruction of the Temple and the signs of the end of the world. He warns BE CAREFUL. It’s so easy to slip into the world system and have no thought that this will all come to an end. And, if you do, you will not be ready for the coming of the King and His Kingdom in all of its fullness. All of a sudden these events could come upon us and we get caught by surprise. I’m reminded about 9/11 and how quickly all commerce and virtually all of life in the USA came to a screeching halt.

The application here for us is that no one knows when the end of the world will come. It will come like a thief in the night and many will be shocked and surprised. So, He says, be prayerful that you will be able to escape all of these disasters and you will be able to stand before the Son of Man when He comes.

It seems to me to be watchful and prayerful means to be aware of what God is doing among us in this world. Through this awareness we will be ready for whatever may come at the end of the world. This is why it’s so critical for us to continue walking with Jesus and with one another as we learn what it means to love one another and to walk the Kingdom lifestyle. So, how about you? How’s it going? Would you say that you are ready—watching and praying?