The Tragic Lessons of Judas Iscariot

Spiritual Light Without Authentic Faith

You would think someone who saw and experienced with Jesus all that Judas did, he couldn’t help but truly believe in him as Messiah and Lord, right? If only we preached better sermons, fed more poor, defended the resurrection better, all of Northwest Indiana would bow the knee to Jesus, right? All they need is more light. Better light. More understanding. Was Judas lacking in any of these? No. He had truth without faith. Light without enlightenment. Knowledge without belief.

Judas was a spiritual opportunist. He was with Jesus while it was good, but he became disillusioned, and then Jesus was someone to profit from. Judas was in it for what he could get from it. He wanted the benefits of being with Jesus, but he didn’t really believe in him.

Judas is exhibit A of what spiritual hypocrisy and pretension looks like. This happens all the time. People jump on the Jesus bandwagon. They like the vibe. They like the sense of things. I like Bethel Church! They like being admired for being spiritual. But all the while they don’t truly love Christ. They love what comes with Christ. They are spiritual opportunists and I have to ask myself if I am one of them. Jesus talked about the difference.

“’Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’” (Matthew 7:21-23)

We see here that there is the possibility of doing great things for Christ without actually having a saving relationship with him. That is the scary reality. You can be around the real thing, but not have the real thing. You can know about it, talk about it, give the appearance of it, but not actually have it. There are always tares among the wheat and always Judases among Jesus’ followers. Here is where Judas’ hypocrisy helps us understand what real faith looks like.

Judas’ Hypocrisy Shows What Authentic Faith Looks Like

Judas loved money; Mary loved Jesus – genuine faith values Christ above all

Mary poured her expensive perfume on Jesus and Judas was appalled at the waste. The story showed the true nature of Judas and Mary. Judas loved money. Mary loved Jesus.

Judas was a lover of money. He rebuked Mary for gift. He pilfered out of the moneybag. He sold Jesus for 30 pieces of silver. All for money. Is there a lesson in this?

Judas had remorse; Peter had repentance – Genuine faith can and will humbly repent and be restored

The night before Jesus’ crucifixion was a bad night for both Judas and Peter. Judas betrayed Jesus. Peter denied Jesus. Both were grievous sins. The difference in the men is not the guilt of what they did, but how they responded to it. Both felt guilty. Judas felt remorse and wished he hadn’t done it. Peter felt remorse and wished he hadn’t done it. However, they responded in completely different manners. Judas responded with more sin and committed self-murder. Peter sought the Lord and was restored.

True Christians will sin and fall and sometimes grievously so. However, a genuine Christian wants that relationship with God restored more than anything else. He or she will seek it with confession and is willing to restore their testimony to others.

I have seen this many times. An apparent Christian will sin and perhaps that sin is found out in some way. Suddenly they are seized with guilt and fear. Out of the woodwork they come. They must meet with me. They must be absolved of guilt from a spiritual leader. They don’t want anybody to know. They are in damage control. Eventually the crisis passes, and when it does, they are no longer anywhere to be seen. Until the next crisis arises. Do they really want Christ? Are they Mary or Judas? Peter or Judas?

How sweet it is to see a Peter – a man or woman who has suffered in a sin or bondage of some kind, knowing their sin has been discovered, going humbly to those affected and seeking to make it right. Humbly they admit their guilt to God and have no desire to hide it anymore. They long to worship freely again. They take steps to change. There is a humble openness about them. That is Peter.

A true Christian has dethroned self and Christ is there as Lord. We want him, and even when we fail him or turn from him, we long for that relationship with him again. Which are you? Judas or Mary? Judas or Peter? Pretender or Follower?

I think if Judas would have responded like Peter in true contrition to Christ, I think he would have been forgiven. Why? As the song says, Marvelous grace of our loving Lord, grace that exceeds our sin and our guilt. Where sin abounds, God’s grace does much more abound.

There is mercy and grace to be found for the follower of Jesus who wants that relationship restored and made right, even when we look a lot like Judas Iscariot.

Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

©Steve DeWitt. You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that: (1) you credit the author, (2) any modifications are clearly marked, (3) you do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, (4) you include Bethel’s website address (www.bethelweb.org) on the copied resource.

To hear the message of this excerpt in its entirety, click here

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1 comment

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  1. DebB

    By their fruit they are known. Judas experienced Jesus’ power and glory . He wanted Jesus to conform to his expectations and he wanted to be able to have some influence in what ever he thought to be Jesus’ kingdom. Judas had the same thing that Satan had. The thing that every other disciple disowned. PRIDE
    When he could no longer hold himself above others he could no longer imagine his existence.

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