Picture of Pastor Crutcher

Sermon delivered June 11, 2005 by Pastor Kent Crutcher

McDonald Road Seventh-day Adventist Church

McDonald, Tennessee

Biblical quotations are from the New International Version NIV unless otherwise noted. Divine pronouns and titles are capitalized.

A Tale of Two Liars

(RealAudio Version is available)

There was an uncomfortable silence. Have you ever felt that? Just a dead silence, something is supposed to happen. Somebody should say something. But it didn't get said, or what's happening here? Nothing is more uncomfortable than that silence around the dinner table. And that's where it was. There was a silence of a profound and humbling lesson so recently taught. There was a silence of confused thought, of men trying to piece together the puzzle that had been solve in their minds up to a few moments ago. They thought they had everything lined up the way it was supposed to be, but suddenly it was shattered. The pieces didn't fit any more. It was a silence of expectation. Something was about to happen that was unexpected and they knew it. They just didn't know what it was. Things weren't lining up as they had planned.

They reflected upon recent events. Things were going better than they had planned. Finally, Jesus and they, had gotten the recognition He had deserved. The trip into Jerusalem. What a glorious experience that was. Coming in over the hill for the Passover. That was awesome. The crowds, the noise, the waving of palm branches, the laying down of garments, the shouts of 'Hosanna.' What a parade! Did we get our parade wave right?

And then, Jesus had gone to work. We've been waiting for Jesus to do this for three years, and He finally does it. The work we're expecting! He start to act like the conquering king that they wanted. He chases people out of the temple in a splendidly violent manner. Aha! But then He stopped. He seemed to change course and did not continue the coup all the way to the palace like they had expected. Later, Jesus taught some more, but what He had to say was not well remembered. After all, we had to be involved in the crowd control.

It was exciting to be seen as one of the twelve. By the way, who would be the most important of the twelve? James and John had the audacity to ask Jesus if they could be the most important. Oh boy, Judas let them have it. "Who do you think you are? It's not wise to be asking such things! You have the audacity!" They deserved the tongue-lashing they got from Judas. But Judas strove to with right next to Jesus when they entered the room, a room that had been prepared for them to celebrate the Passover Feast. By the way, John found his own way to the other side of Jesus very quickly. The others strove for seats of position within this cabinet of this new government. Peter, face red with anger, was not quite as close as he had desired.

Then the trouble really began. Everything had been arranged: The food, enough chairs, the table, the basin of water for washing feet, the... Wait a minute. Where is the servant? Whose in charge of finding the servant? Were you in charge of finding the servant? No. I didn't know anything about a servant. Had Jesus forgotten the need for a servant to wash their feet? He was in charge of the arrangements. Did He forget to ask somebody to ask somebody to ask somebody to be the servant?

An uneasy feeling descended on their proud hearts. Did Jesus expect one fo them to do the honors? You know, when we were just children it always fell to the youngest who were able to stand to wash the guests feet. The least in the household. Who would be asked to do this now? They had spent their time measuring each other in their own eyes. How did Jesus see them? Who did He think was low enough to take on this humiliating, but necessary task?

No one moved, for to move would was to invite glances of expectation from the others. To move was to make others think that you were the least of them.

Wait a minute. Someone is moving. Oh, never mind, it's just Jesus. He's probably going to choose one of us. Don't look at Him. If you make eye-contact He's going to pick you. If you make eye-contact, He will pick you. Act like you expect Him to, choose another.

Wait, what is Jesus doing? Turn to John 13:4,5. ...so He got up from the meal, took off His outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around His waist. After that, He poured water into a basin and began to wash His disciple's feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around Him.

This was uncomfortable. If Jesus is Who we think He is, the King and Creator of the universe, that's where all this has been leading, hasn't it? Then the King and the Creator of the universe just touched my dirty feet. We don't do that in this culture. The bottom of your foot is an insult to anybody. He's washing dust off of fee that He created out of dust.

Look at Peter. There he goes: red in the face again. He doesn't hide his embarrassment very well. He doesn't hide any emotion very well. John 13:6. He came to Simon Peter, who said to Him, "Lord, are You going to wash my feet?"

Jesus replied, "You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand."

No," said Peter, "You shall never wash my feet."

Jesus answered, "Unless I wash you, you have no part with Me."

Then, Lord," Simon Peter replied, 'not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!"

Jesus answered, "A person who has had a bath needs only to wash his feet; his whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every on of you."

Hey, wait a minute. What did Jesus mean by that last part? The first part was easy enough, John the Baptist taught us some of that stuff, Jesus has commented on it. A person who has been baptized only needs a little touch-up now and then: a miniature re-baptism, something to clean our spiritual feet from walking on a sinful world. But what was that about not all of us being clean. All of us were baptized. Why is Judas looking like that? He must know who Jesus is talking about. He's been very close with Jesus. He's one of the greatest of us all. Maybe we can ask him later what Jesus meant.

Wait a minute, what is Jesus saying now? Look at verses 13 to 18. You call Me 'Teacher' and 'Lord,' and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another's feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things you will be blessed if you do them.

"I am not referring to all of you; I know those I have chosen. But this is to fulfill the scripture: 'He who shares my bread has lifted up his heel against me.'"

Verses 21 to 27. After He said this, Jesus was troubled in spirit and testified, "I tell you the truth, one of you is going to betray Me."

His disciples stared at one another, at a loss to know which of them He meant. One of them, the disciple whom Jesus loved, (John) was reclining next to Him. Simon Peter motioned to this disciple and said, "Ask Him which one He means."

Leaning back against Jesus he asked, "Lord, who is it?"

Jesus answered, "It is the one to whom I will give this piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish." Then dipping the piece of bread, he gave it to Judas Iscariot, son of Simon. As soon as Judas took the bread, Satan entered into him.

"What you are about to do, do quickly," Jesus told him.

Why did Jesus say that to Judas? Maybe, I know that Jesus said that the person He was going to give the bread to, bu then He gave it to Judas. Well, maybe it was somebody He was going to give it to next. What has Judas go to go and do quickly? Maybe he's got to go to the market and get a little more for the feast. After all, he's in charge of the money. Maybe he's going on an errand to help the poor. He's always so thoughtful. Wow, it surely is dark outside.

Turn to Matthew 26:31. Then Jesus told them, "This very night you will all fall away on account of Me, for it is written: 'I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.'"

"But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee."

Red in the face again, Peter replied, "Even if all fall away on account of You, I never will."

"I tell you the truth," Jesus answered, "this very night, before the rooster crows, you will disown Me three times."

But Peter declared, "Even if I have to die with You, I never will." And all the other disciples said the same.

There you have it. A tale of two liars. Actually, all twelve were liars, if you remember that very last part there. They all said they would not fall away. But the scripture focuses on two, so will we.

The first was well-educated, bright, intelligent. He was loved by all who came in contact with him. He had followed Jesus for over three years, very closely. They all assumed that he would be great in God's kingdom. He was the type of person and mother would be glad to name her son after. But, have you noticed, how many baby dedications have you been to where the name given was of Judas? It doesn't happen. Why? Because Judas, the great, his life was a lie.

Have you been to a car show? I like cars. I used to go to cars show. You know, where Ford or Maserati. There would be someone introducing the latest model. Often it was a mock-up model of a car of the future. Beautiful and sleek. I would say, "How fast does it go?" "Oh, this one doesn't have an engine in it. This is just a concept." All show and no go. That's what it is when our lives are a lie.

Yes, Judas was righteous, but he was self-righteous. He even lied to himself. Did you know that is possible? You can tell yourself this same thing so many times that you begin to believe it. It become factual to you.

He lied to himself that very night. "What I do this night will actually help God out. It will hasten Jesus' kingdom which He's dragging His feet on. It will force the issued. Jesus will show His power and I will get my position a little sooner than it looks like it will happen."

Be careful lest we condemn Judas too deeply. We may be guilty of some of the same things. There is a false goodness that we all fall for. At least I assume that we do, because I know I do. Goodness to meet others' expectations. Doing things to keep up appearances. Putting a burden on our children that they need to keep up the appearance of goodness. I have to shake my head when I hear some parents say that their children don't face the types of pressures and temptation that other children do because they are so well brought up and sheltered. I shake my head because I've seen their children when they're out of sight from their parents. They're just like the rest of us. It's not always a very pretty sight. That's because this form of goodness is just that. A form, not reality. Only there when in sight of areas that need to be impressed. Only there when there is something in it for them. But it's not in the heart. Is the goodness in our heart, or is it just in the actions to impress?

This type of goodness asks, 'What has the church done for me?' not 'What have I done for the church?' Judas was in it for what he could get, nor for what he could give. True goodness is a natural kind that grows from the genuine heart and is not worn like a costume. True goodness is not a goodness of avoidance, or artificial separation from he world. The world we live in, basically, sees religious piety as just avoiding evil. Some of us may see it the same way. It's a piety that deals with the world by running from it. 'Let's hide in the hills so that we will not be contaminated with sinners.' The Pharisees had this same mentality. They could not believe that Jesus would associate with the world. 'You can not be from God!' There is a time to go to the hills, and to make sure we are on the right track with God. But, like Jesus, it should only be temporarily.

What good are we to others when we hide ourselves away?

I knew a family way down in sought Georgia. Everybody seems to have some kind of thing that they're really in to. What they were in to was 'healthy eating.' And it's a good thing to be in to. But they took it to an extreme. They moved way out of town, had their farm and grew probably ninety-nine percent of everything they ate. The spices, everything they grew. The reason why they dd not want to be contaminated was anything that was sold in Food Lion, which was the local store. So they grew everything. I watched them for five years. They worked hard. I ate with them. It was good food. But as I watched them, something began to dawn on me. These people are no god to anyone but themselves. They spend all their time on the farm, growing their food, canning and then eating it. And they have no contact with sinners.

Jesus would go away, but then He would come back. The testimony of one converted to this goodness of avoidance and list all of the things they don't do any more. You remember, someone asks, "Well, what do Adventists believe?" And the first thing that comes out of our mouth, "Well, we don't do this, and we don't do that, and we don't do that any more either." It's hardly a testimony that appeals to the world.

Broadcasting such external goodness is like the hypocrites standing in the synagogue or on the street corners to be seen by men. Don't get me wrong, I believe that many things are good to avoid. But let's be careful lest we avoid evil, thinking therefore that we are good. Goodness is more than avoiding evil. Real goodness goes beyond a defensive fight against evil. Let our eyes be focused on the gospel, not on what the liberals are doing, or on what the conservatives are getting into now. If we are always fearful of the right or the left, we doom the church to searching the liberals for conservatives instead of searching for sinners. Satan loves to use people in this way, for they are lying to themselves and feel no need of the gospel, and it stops the gospel commission in its tracks. Jesus is the only place true goodness can be found. If true goodness can be found in you, then Jesus must be in your heart.

People who try to squirrel away the gospel will be disappointed when winter comes because they will find they never had the gospel to begin with. People that truly know Jesus can not hide it away. They must share the gospel.

Peter was also guilty of lying to himself. No one would have condemned him for being 'holier than thou.' But they might point out his pride. Pride tries to convince us that we can o things by our self.

I had an antenna at my house. It was a great big TV antenna, an eyesore, on a telephone pole that was rotting. Nothing worked there, Finally last week I decided that thing needs to come down. I had to stand on the roof and try to push this pole over. Susan came out and said, "Hey, you went over next door and helped the neighbor with something on his roof. Call him to come help you with this." But my pride insisted that I could do it by myself, which in fact, I can say, "I did." But it surely would have been easier if I had gotten the neighbor's help. My muscles ached for a few days after the effort.

Peter's pride caused him to lie to himself about why he didn't want Jesus to wash his feet. He thought that he was protecting Jesus from humiliation. But Jesus' answer to him makes it clear that Peter was actually protecting himself from the humiliation of admitting his need of Jesus' ministry to the lost, which would be him. "If I allow Jesus do this, I'm admitting I need Jesus.

We also find Peter lying directly to Jesus. "Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown You." Was peter sincere? Certainly. Nobody would ever say that he was not sincere. But he was sincerely wrong. He believed that his faith was much stronger than it actually was. When put to the test a few hours later, he dropped his identity with Jesus like a hot potato. I believe that the closer we come to Jesus, the less faith we have in ourselves. The further we are from Him the closer we appear to perfection in our own eyes, the worse everyone else looks, including the church. The closer we get to Him, the worse we look in our own eyes, and we begin to see the good in others. The closer we get to Him, the more we have to place our faith in Him. We realize we cannot do it by ourselves. Pride has to fall before faith can rise.

Yes, you may be sincere, but you may be sincerely wrong. I've asked myself that question so many times. The Bible tells us that there is a way that seems right to a man, but the end is death. The results of Judas' lies and Peter's lies are the same. The wages of sin is death. Both men lied; both men died. Judas killed himself while Peter died to self. That is why Peter was able do come back to Jesus. That is why Peter won't face the second death, because love won out.

You've heard of our two cats: Keitha and Duma. Keitha aggravates me. I like to pet the cats. And she'll come up to me with her tails just swishing. She wants to be loved. I can tell it. And she comes up to me and just as I reach out to touch her, her nose goes in the air and walks away. It's a little too much pride for loving.

Duma, on the other hand, has absolutely no pride. He walks up to you, lies down on his back, opens up his legs and goes, "Rub my belly. I need your loving, now."

When Jesus asks you what you need, do you walk away, or do you open up your arms? And say, "Just give it to me."

Just before Jesus predicted Peter's denial, He said something very interesting. John 13:34. "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you love one another." How will people know we are disciples of Jesus? It's not by the things that we do and that we don't do: It's, do we love one another, and accept the love and the forgiveness from Jesus.

Once again, love conquers all. Do you want to put the lies away? I do. Do you desire true goodness and true faith? I want it. Do you desire security in your relationship with Jesus? I hope your answer is 'yes.' Think about this this week. As you prepare for communion service next Sabbath, get to know Jesus better every day. The truth will come out and we'll be free to follow the shepherd. Jesus said (John 10) "My sheep listen to my voice. I know them." They have a relationship with Me. They love Me. And they follow Me. I give then eternal life and they shall never perish. No one can snatch them out of My hand. My Father Who has given them to Me is greater than all. No one can snatch them out of My Father's hand." That's a good place to be.

 Hymn of Praise: 230,  All Glory, Laud, and Honor
Scripture: John 10:27-29
Hymn of Response: #545,  Savior, Like a Shepherd

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