…Betrayed by Facebook, Warned by Judas

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This week I preached at 3C for the first time in almost a month! (In March we’ve ‘halted play’ due to snow twice, and I was invited to preach to a church in Bristol on the middle week.)
I’d missed gathering and sharing fellowship with my brothers & sisters so it was great to be together as we started a sermon mini-series. I’ve titled this series ‘Easter Eyewitnesses’. In each sermon we’re going to look at what happened in the lives of two of the people who were part of the first Easter. This week we spent time looking at two of the ‘villains’ – Judas & Caiaphas.
On Sunday we saw that as we witness the events unfold in the lives of these two men we should be called to repentance & faith. In this blog I want to look a little closer at Judas.

Judas – ‘Friend’

Judas was one of the 12 (Matt 10:4). He spent 3 years walking with Jesus. He saw the miracles. He was a ‘friend’. It seems almost inconcievable that someone who had walked so closely with Jesus and lived with him could be so callous as to hand him over to his enemies. But that is just what Judas did. He sold Jesus for 30 pieces of silver, the price of a slave (Exo 21:32).
In a world over-run by Facebook the word ‘Friend’ can now describe a passing awareness or a distant social link to a person. Friends aren’t just ‘aware’ of us. Real friends share in the initimate moments of life – the highs and the lows! It isn’t a relationship built around ‘status updates’, ‘comments’ and ‘likes’ but we share meaningful conversations that speak to our hearts and shape our actions. Interestingly, in recent days it seems that Facebook has betrayed the ‘friendship’ of at least 50 million users and allowed the shady characters of Cambridge Analytica to harvest our data for political purposes. (*1) Who can you trust?
However, we shouldn’t be so quick to judge Facebook or Judas. If we truly know Jesus then our lives should be shaped by our friendship with Him. So, how’s that going? Yeah…same here!
We stumble, fail and fall in so many ways – sometimes we can feel more like Judas than we might care to admit. The writer to the Hebrews urges us to throw off the ‘sin that clings so closely’ (Heb 12:1), there’s a choice to be made. It seems in his heart, Judas, treasured money (John 12:4-6) and possible political influence more than Jesus. We must choose, daily, to make Jesus our closest friend and allow His Word, by the Spirit, to shape our hearts and minds (Rom 12:1-2).

Judas – ‘Follower’

It was pointed out after the sermon on Sunday that Judas had acted under the influence of Satan (Luke 22:3). This is quite correct, but it didn’t come as a ‘bolt out of the blue’. Before this there had been a repeated pattern of habitual, unrepentant sin in his life. More significant than this, Judas continued to reject the truth about Jesus. Look at the exchange between Jesus and the disciples after he tells them that one of them would betray him – The other disciples say; “Is it I, Lord?” (Matt 26:22), they recognise the Lordship of Jesus. Judas says; “Is it I, Rabbi?” (Matt 26:25), he is only willing to acknowledge Jesus as a ‘teacher’.
There are two warnings for us here. Firstly it is possible to follow Jesus’ teachings and not make him Lord in our lives. Our attitudes and actions should demonstrate that our deepest affections are all directed towards Jesus. My prayer is that with each passing day I will ‘…grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ’ (2 Peter 3:18). Will you join me in this?
We believe that God is patient and forgiving, however it appears that it is possible for repeated disobedience to harden our hearts to God’s Word and the truth of the gospel. This seems to be the case for Judas. When this happens the door is opened for spiritual beings to afflict us, just like Judas and also King Saul (1 Sam 16:14).
I do believe that it is possible for demons and spiritual forces to oppress and attack believers, however we are told clearly in James that they need not have the victory (James 4:7-8).
“James does not suggest that Satan might flee from us if we resist him. He does not hope that such will be the case. He does not say that perhaps we will be successful in our opposition to his nefarious plans. He declares without hesitation or doubt that if we resist our enemy he will flee from us.” *2
The victory belongs to Jesus because of the finished work of Calvary. Satan, sin, death and all hell fell defeated at the cross when Jesus cried – “It is finished!” (John 19:30)

Questions for Community Groups/Personal study:

  1. Would you want a ‘friend’ like Judas? How would you react?
  2. Who do you call a ‘friend’. How do they influence your life? How do they help you to become more like Jesus?
  3. Jesus was called the ‘Friend of sinners’ by his critics (Matt 11:19). What do you think that means?
  4. For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.‘ (Romans 8:13)
    – What happens if we live for ‘the flesh’?
    – What do we have to do to truly ‘live‘?
    – How are we to do it?
  5. Where are you struggling to be obedient to God? What ‘sin’ keeps causing you to stumble?
    – Pray about it, looking to the finished work of the cross, ask God for the strength to overcome.
    – Find a trusted Christian friend who will pray with you and will keep asking you about your walk with Jesus.

Footnotes:

*2 – Storms, Sam. Practicing the Power: Welcoming the Gifts of the Holy Spirit in Your Life (p. 175). Zondervan.

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