Judas — A Whole Lot Like us

John 13:21-30

There was a man who knew Jesus better than any of us.

– He knew what Jesus looked like — how tall He was, the color of His hair and eyes.

– He knew how fast Jesus walked up hills.

Some nights he’d still be in conversation with Jesus when they both fell asleep beside the campfire.

– This man knew what made Jesus laugh.

– This man’s name was Judas Iscariot.

The most baffling question about this whole ordeal is: how could someone who knew Jesus so well betray Him to His enemies?

– Was it really the money — or was it something else?

We need to explore the mystery of Judas Iscariot. — John 13:21-30

People think of Judas as a sort of Osama bin Laden type in robe and sandals — the personification of evil.

– In his Inferno, Dante placed Judas in the 9th circle of Hell — that area reserved for the

most grievous sinners — frozen upside down in a cake of ice for all eternity.

But when we look at the person of Judas in the Bible, we find a more complex picture.

Actually, the more I learn about Judas, the more disturbing he becomes for me, because I have to admit Judas isn’t all that different from me or you.

– It’s understandable how we’d prefer Judas be as different from us as night from day.

– He must’ve been some kind of a monster.

– We hold our greatest rage for those people who betray others.

Think of the anger Americans had toward Tamerlan Tsarnaev and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the brothers who exploded pressure cooker bombs at the Boston Marathon last year, April 15, 2013, killing 3 people and wounding and maiming 264 others.

Or what about the rage Americans had after the 19 hijackers destroyed the Twin Towers in New York, tried to destroy the Pentagon, and the White House or Capital Building on 9/11.

– These 19 men had lived in our country, enjoyed our life style and taken advantage of all the benefits we had available.

– They attended our flight schools and learned to control an airplane.

– After taking advantage of our hospitality, they murdered over 3000.

– Americans felt betrayed and angry.

Judas had enjoyed all the fellowship and blessings Christ had to offer, but betrayed the very One who provided it all for him.

We want Judas to be as different from us as night is from day!

Imagine waking up tomorrow morning, looking in the mirror and seeing Judas!

Who was Judas? – What made him tick?

If Judas was really the “slime ball” we imagine, do you think the disciples would’ve been so shocked at the Last Supper when Jesus said, “One of you will betray me”?

– They would’ve said, “O, Lord, Of course, it’s Judas! It was only a matter of time, wasn’t it?”

But the Bible says they were dumbfounded at Jesus’ words.

– Their mouths fell open and they said, “Lord, Is it I?” “Is it I?”

Luke tells us Jesus prayed all night before selecting His disciples.

– Judas was an answer to prayer!

There’s another fact proving Judas wasn’t a monster.

– What sort of person gets elected treasurer of most organizations?

– Usually an honest, upstanding, solid citizen.

– We don’t trust our hard earned cash to someone who isn’t reliable.

For Jesus and His disciples, that reliable person was Judas Iscariot.

– When they divided up the jobs they said, “Judas, you handle the purse strings.”

The myth of the monster, Judas, is even harder to understand when we consider the events of the LAST SUPPER.

– Usually we think of the Last Supper as Leonardo da Vinci painted it — the disciples and

Jesus sitting around the table family style.

In reality, they were laying Hebrew-style as they dined.

– At that time the guests would recline on their left elbows on couches around the table thus

freeing their right arms to handle food and drink.

– It’d be like lying on the couch watching TV, propped up on your left elbow eating popcorn

with your right hand — the way the disciples did at the Last Supper.

There were 3 per couch — it was very chummy!

– The guy in the middle was sandwiched between 2 people.

– There’d be a person reclining on the right — his head would be against that person’s chest.

That’s what’s described in John 13:25 — John was leaning back against Jesus………. — John was reclining to Jesus’ right with his head against Jesus’ chest.

If John was reclining to the right of Jesus, who was on Jesus’ left?

– In ancient times, the person sitting to the left of the host at a meal was in the seat of

honor, because he’d share the most intimate dinner conversation with the host.

Judas was sitting in the place of honor at the most famous dinner ever given!

– It was also an honor for the host to take a piece of bread and dip it and hand it to another


– It would be like lifting a glass and toasting a friend —“Hey, here’s to you.”

Read the text carefully, “Then, dipping the piece of bread, He gave it to Judas……”

It seems the only 2 people Jesus could’ve given a piece of bread to was John on His right and Judas on His left.

– There must’ve been a pretty serious conversation between Judas and Jesus because Judas . got up — all the other disciples assumed he’d gone to give money to the poor.

Who was Judas Iscariot, and where’d he go wrong?

One hint comes from his name, Judas Iscariot.

– Judas Ish-Kerioth — man of Kerioth.

– Kerioth was a city outside Galilee.

– Judas was the only non-Galilean among the disciples.

He wasn’t part of the inner circle — It was always Peter, James, and John — he must’ve felt like an outsider and it must’ve eaten on him.

– He developed a bad attitude towards the other disciples – he didn’t like them!

– Satan’s playground!

– It’s amazing how Satan can point out all the faults of those around us and help us build . prejudices against people – almost making it seem like we’ve a right to feel that way.

– Dad saying he wouldn’t be a Christian because there were too many hypocrites in the



– If someone’s standing between you and God he’s closer to God than you are!

Judas was the disciple with what seemed to be a social conscience.

– Again and again we see Judas’ name associated with the poor.

– Remember the young lady at the house of Simon the Pharisee, who broke that gallon of

“Chanel No. 5” on Jesus’ feet?

– Judas hit the ceiling! He said, “That could’ve fed 80 families for a year! What’s that

woman thinking?”

Judas wasn’t thinking of the poor!

– He was a crook and was embezzling from the treasury – his concern was for Judas, not the poor! By this time, Judas was totally sold out for himself – SIN IS SELFISHNESS!

– – He’d become his own god!

So when Judas got up, the disciples thought he was going to help the poor.

The key to Judas’ character may be found early in John’s Gospel — Jesus had fed 5000 and the impoverished masses rose up and tried to make Jesus their King. — John 6:15

The people didn’t want “NO” for an answer and kept badgering Him until He had to turn and say, .
– John 6:26-27

What was the bread Jesus wanted to give the people?

– He predicted His own death — John 6:55

From the moment Jesus renounced His political kingship, His popularity plummeted. – John 6:66

– Jesus turned to the remaining disciples and said — John 6:67

– Interestingly John adds — John 6:71

Judas still wanted Jesus to become King and wouldn’t give up his dream of Jesus reigning on a throne of this world.

– Imagine what a Utopia that would be……………………Someone who could bring Heaven to earth!

– Judas kept pleading, “You’ve got to do this!”

– Again, selfish Judas had his own political aspirations.

Drop Judas into the swirl of people on Palm Sunday — multitudes of people welcoming Jesus into Jerusalem — the political powder keg and Jesus was the spark.

– Judas knew if the two came together………BOOM! — The revolution would begin!

Only 2 people understood what was at stake during Holy Week.

– Jesus, who was obediently following His Father’s call to go and suffer and die, to bring

about a kingdom of love through which He’d reign in the hearts of His followers.

– Judas, who wanted Jesus to use His influence to start a revolution that would make Jesus

King of the world.

As the week progressed, it became clear Jesus wasn’t going to make His move.

– Judas would have to force Jesus’ hand by engineering a situation to force Jesus to unleash . His power.

Judas went to the Temple authorities and said, “There’s going to be a time when Jesus will be alone with His disciples—Thursday night in the Garden of Gethsemane.”

That night Judas went to the Garden flanked by soldiers.

– His heart was pounding with anticipation.

– He walked up kissed Jesus, and said, “Hail Master.”

– Peter grabbed a sword and lopped off the ear of the High Priest’s servant.

Judas thought, “Finally, now things will start happening.”

But Jesus stopped Peter from hurting anyone else.

– Judas watched, incredulous, as Jesus allowed Himself to be led out of the garden.

As the voices faded, he stood in the darkness alone, and felt reality come crashing down on his head with the force of a sledgehammer.

By trying to be the god of God, he’d become the tool of Satan.

– He’d lost his dream, he’d lost his lord, and soon he’d lose his life. — Matthew 27:5

2 observations about Judas:

– Judas was willing to follow Jesus all the way until Jesus faced the Cross.

– The Cross caused him to draw back.

– Judas was with Jesus 3 years and had no place to lay his head had sacrificed much

……………only stopped short of going to the cross.

The difference between a faithful disciple and Judas is one simple question: “Will you follow Jesus to the Cross?”

– “To be crucified with Jesus means 3 things: the man on the cross is facing only one

direction, he’s not turning back, and he has no further plans of his own.”

Judas had so many of his own plans — so do you! — So do I.

– Many people would follow Christ if they didn’t have to give 100%………………..

– With Jesus, it’s either all or nothing at all.

Judas, who wouldn’t trust in any plan he couldn’t understand, threw himself down from a tree with a rope around his neck.

– Judas vs. Peter

How great is God’s Love? He died for Judas too, if Judas would’ve only accepted God’s Plan.

Yet, by God’s Grace, we can wake up every morning and die to our plans. We can follow Jesus and begin to live for the Kingdom of God in this world.

by Rev William Woods

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