Last Monday at Southwark Crown Court an Army Major, Charles Ingram, his wife, Diana and a college lecturer, Tecwen Whittock, were all convicted of cheating on the quiz show 'Who Wants To Be A Millionaire'. Diana, who had previously won £32,000 on the show and who was writing a book on how to win on the programme, set up the scam, Tecwen coughed at the appropriate moment and the Major after much deliberation chose the answer that had been coughed at. They were full of covetousness and deceit. They tried to defraud the programme of £1million. As the show's host, Chris Tarrant, put it after the verdict, 'it was a very cynical plan motivated by sheer greed'. The Bible puts it like this in 1Timothy 6:10:
"The love of money [note not money but the love of money] is a root of all kinds of evil."
Judas Iscariot, one of the twelve disciples of Jesus, was motivated by greed and prompted by the devil to betray Jesus (John 13:2). Judas' love of money - his covetousness, greed and avarice - his materialism contributed to Jesus being crucified. For example in Matthew 26:14-16 we learn that:
'Judas went to the chief priests and asked, "What are you willing to give me if I hand him [Jesus] over to you?" So they counted out 30 silver coins. From then on Judas watched for an opportunity to hand him over.'
Immediately before that incident we see both Judas' covetousness and deceit in John 12:3-6 as he cloaked his true desire to line his own pocket with some of the money that could have come from the sale of Mary's perfume under a plea for it to be used to help the poor. Look at those verses:
'Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus' feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. But one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray him, objected, "Why wasn't this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year's wages." Judas did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it.'
Yet Judas was 'one of the twelve'. The Gospels repeatedly tell us so - in fact they tell us so ten times. Yes, as we'll see from John's Gospel, Judas never came to true faith in Christ. He was a devil! But we can't escape the fact that Judas was called by Jesus, that Jesus' call was genuine, and Judas was one of the twelve disciples 'who shared in the ministry' (Acts 1:16). Now for those of you with a statistical turn of mind 'one of the twelve' means just over 8% of the inner circle of Jesus' disciples. So that perhaps could mean say 6 out of 72 involved in the church infected with the same materialism as Judas, or 20 out of 240 or 30 of us here this evening seriously infected with materialism. That's when the Bible's account of Judas begins to get really close to home for some of us. This is when it makes us ask "Lord is it I?" as the disciples did on learning that one of them was to betray Jesus.
And Jesus says to all of us here this evening in Luke 12:15:
"Watch out, and guard yourselves from all kinds of greed; for a man's true life is not made up of the things he owns, no matter how rich he may be."
In words which speak so clearly to us today Paul in 1 Timothy 6:6-10 says:
'Godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.'
But whether it's materialism or another sin of 'friendship with the world', which is causing us to betray Jesus we are instead to 'submit ourselves to God', says James 4:7, and 'resist the devil, who then will flee from you.'
It is startling to think that Satan can actually come into the heart of a man in such close touch with Jesus as Judas was. And more - he is cunningly trying to do it today. Yet he can get in only through a door opened from the inside. "Every man controls the door of his own life." Satan can't get in without our help.
So let's now turn to look at Judas, his materialism and betrayal of Jesus and John 13 in more detail. I'm going to begin by outlining the true story of Judas up to this point. So my first heading is
1. JUDAS - THE STORY SO FAR
He was called and was appointed one of the twelve apostles by Jesus, records Mark in chapter 3:13-19 of his Gospel, 'that they all might be with Jesus and that he might send them out to preach and to have authority to drive out demons'. In Acts 1:16 Peter says that Judas "was one of our number who shared in the ministry."
But Judas was never a true believer. Jesus says so in John 6:64 when addressing a wider group of disciples than just the Twelve. He says:
"Yet there are some of you who do not believe." For Jesus had known from the beginning which of them did not believe and who would betray him.
Following that in John 6:70-71 Jesus says he chose Judas as one of the twelve and foreknew that Judas would betray him:"
Have I not chosen you, the Twelve? Yet one of you is a devil! (He meant Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, who, though one of the Twelve, was later to betray him.)
Among the apostles Judas was the treasurer. John 13:29 states that 'Judas had charge of the money'. John 12:6 also says that he was the 'keeper of the money bag.' Now church treasurers or those who handle the money bags, and I must be careful what I say here as some of them here write my stipend cheque, have a vital role to play. Those at JPC, of course, do a superb job. In other places there have been those caught with their fingers in the bag, so to speak. Here at JPC there always has to be two people present when a money bag is filled or emptied.
Without any of the other apostles knowing, Judas used to help himself to what was put into the money bag. He was a thief says John 12:6. He was also a deceiver and a materialist. As we've just seen Judas saw only denarii signs when he saw Mary pour expensive perfume on Jesus' feet, an act of worship which Jesus praised (Mark 14:6).
In fact in that incident there are four fascinating contrasts between Mary and Judas.
1. Judas' greed vs Mary's generosity.
2. Judas' covert deception vs Mary's open act of worship.
3. Judas' pride vs Mary's humiliation.
4. Judas' cool detachment vs Mary's unmeasured devotion of Christ.
Which are we?
Immediately following that Luke tells us that Satan entered Judas who then went to the chief priests to ask how much they would pay him to betray the Lord (Luke 22:3). He accepted their offer of just 30 pieces of silver. What a contrast between Mary who anointed Jesus with ointment worth a year's wages, and Judas who betrayed him for a relative pittance. Which are we?
Who this evening needs to repent and resist the devil in Christ's strength? Jesus has defeated the devil. And the writer to the Hebrews reminds us that:
…we do not have a high priest [Jesus] who is unable to sympathise with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are - yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
Who needs to sort out this sin of avarice, this whole issue of materialism, which so ruined Judas, one of the twelve? The Bible says (1 Peter 5:8-10):
Be self controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. So resist him standing firm in the faith. And the God of all grace… will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.
Who this evening needs to repent and trust Christ as Saviour and Lord for the first time and so turn from darkness to light? Judas never believed in Jesus as Lord. He never got further than calling him Rabbi or Teacher. Perhaps someone here tonight has only ever believed that Jesus was a good teacher but you're now beginning to see that he is Lord. Why not put your faith in him as your Saviour and Lord tonight? In John 12:46 Jesus says:
I have come into the world as a light, so that no-one who believes in me should stay in darkness.
2. JESUS, JUDAS, SATAN AND THE CROSS
Judas didn't believe, even though Jesus gave him opportunities to do so, so he would stay in darkness, going out into the night (John 13:30). How close a person can come to salvation and yet be lost forever! How blinding is the evil one and materialism. 2 Corinthians 4:4 says that:
The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.
How we need to pray for people today so many of whom are consumed by consumerism. Jesus washed Judas' feet, which is pretty remarkable in itself considering what Jesus knew, but it didn't do Judas any good because he hadn't been bathed all over. He hadn't been cleansed on the inside. Look at what Jesus says in John 13:10-11:
"Not every one of you is clean. For he knew who was going to betray him, and that was why he said not every one is clean."
Which brings us to John 13, to the evening before Jesus was crucified, where we find that the devil and Judas are now in a conspiracy of evil to bring Jesus to the cross. The devil had found someone to devour. That willing someone was Judas. Look at v2:
The evening meal was being served, and the devil had already prompted Judas Iscariot, son of Simon, to betray Jesus.
The betrayal of Jesus was satanic. Yet it would lead to the defeat of Satan because it would lead Jesus to the cross and the resurrection. It also led to the destruction of Judas as we'll see a little later.
This was a testing time for Jesus. He knew, 13:1, 'that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father.' John, more than any of the Gospel writers, emphasises the fact that Jesus lived on what you might call a 'heavenly timetable' as He did the Father's will. In chapters 2,7 and 8 we read that the hour had not yet come but in chapters 12, 13 and 17 Jesus knew that the time had come. What was this divinely appointed hour? It was the time when he would be glorified through his death, resurrection and ascension. From the human point of view it meant suffering, but from the divine point of view it meant glory.
Jesus knew too that Judas would betray him. As we've just seen Satan had entered into Judas and he would now give him the necessary thought to bring about the arrest and crucifixion of the Son of God.
But Jesus also knew, v3, 'that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God.' God was in control. His Word was being fulfilled. He would be glorified. Jesus would die in our place on the cross and be raised from the dead. He would do the Father's will in the knowledge of the truth of this verse. And Jesus has two chief concerns in v 18-35 - to fulfil the Word of God and to magnify the glory of God, which brings us back to Judas.
Jesus knows he is about to be betrayed. Not all the disciples would be blessed (v17&18). "I am not referring to all of you; I know those I have chosen. But this is to fulfil the scripture: 'He who shares my bread has lifted up his heel against me.' That scripture is Psalm 41:9. When David wrote that psalm he was probably referring to his counsellor Ahithophel, who turned traitor and joined Absalom's rebellion in 2 Samuel 15-17. Both Judas and Ahithophel committed suicide by hanging themselves. However please understand, Judas didn't commit suicide in order to fulfil biblical prophecy. No, that would make God the author of his sin. Judas was responsible for his own decisions, and those decisions fulfilled God's Word.
Verse 21 says that 'Jesus was troubled in spirit'. He was grieved that he was about to be betrayed by a friend. In v19 he's concerned about the effect of the betrayal on the other disciples, which is partly why he relates it to the Word of God. He didn't want their faith to be weakened by it. He tells them now so that when they see all of this fulfilled their faith would grow stronger. That they will believe that 'I am he', that Jesus is God. Judas had been disloyal but he expected the rest to be loyal to him and to his cause. They were his chosen representatives. To receive them would be the same as receiving the Father and the Son. Look at v18 & 20. Jesus says:
'I know those I have chosen…I tell you the truth, whoever accepts anyone I send accepts me; and whoever accepts me accepts the one who sent me.'
If we belong to Christ then we too are his ambassadors. What a privilege to be ambassadors of the eternal King who reigns over all! Tomorrow at work or at home we are to be ambassadors of Christ. We are not to betray him like Judas or deny him like Peter.
The disciples couldn't believe that one of them was about to betray Jesus. They didn't suspect Judas. They didn't know he'd been to the religious leaders or that he'd pilfered the petty cash. He'd deceived them. He pretended to be a disciple but he was actually a devil. He pretended to care for the poor when he only cared about himself. Materialism is often secretive. If there's greed or dishonesty in us it's probably only known to you and God. But because it's not known to others doesn't mean it's not ruinous - it put Jesus on the cross. Some of us will need to search our hearts and be honest. We can't fool God. Jesus knew what Judas had been up to.
And from the very beginning Jesus knew what Judas would do (John 6:64). But Jesus did not compel Judas to betray him. Judas was exposed to the same spiritual privileges as the other disciples, but he didn't respond. In spite of all that Jesus taught about money and greed Judas continued to thieve. In spite of all Jesus' warnings about unbelief, Judas persisted in his rejection. Jesus even washed Judas' feet, yet still Judas' heart did not yield.
In Matthew 26:24 Judas heard Jesus say, "Woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man! It would be better for him if he had not been born." Yet he persisted in his unbelief and treachery. The final appeal came when Jesus gave the piece of bread to Judas, an appeal that Judas didn't accept. Look at v27&30. 'As soon as Judas took the bread, Satan entered into him. Jesus told him, "What you are about to do, do quickly. As soon as Judas had taken the bread, he went out. And it was night.'
Notice that it was Jesus who sent Judas on his way. Even though Satan had entered Judas, it was Jesus who was in charge. But Judas knew what he was doing and he did it deliberately. He went out into the night. He rejected Jesus and went out into darkness. And for Judas it is still night. John 3:18-20 tells us that 'those who do evil hate the light'. They hate Christ and stand condemned unless they repent and trust the Saviour.