Sermon delivered November 20, 1999

by Pastor Donald J Gettys

McDonald Road Seventh-day Adventist Church

McDonald, Tennessee

Biblical quotations are from the (i)New International Version unless otherwise noted.
DA - Desire of Ages by EG White
ED - Education by EG White

The Tallest Disciple

Do you like tall people? I do. I wish I were one of them. Who was the tallest of the disciples? Let's talk about that today.

Let s play a game! You guess who is being talked about:

* He was a disciple of Jesus, one of the twelve.

* He believed that Christ was the Messiah. (DA294)

* He was ordained to the ministry. (DA 295)

* He was given power to cast out devils. (DA 717)

* He helped distribute food to the 5000. (DA 718)

* He believed in the Divinity of Jesus Christ.

* He led others to Christ. Acts 1:16

* He was a polished and talented person. (ED 86)

* He was a man of commanding appearance. (DA 294)

* He had a good speaking voice and executive ability.

* He was a very tall man and had great leadership abilities. (DA 721)

* He was tall like Abe Lincoln and slightly heavier. (DA 722)

Do you know his name? .. JUDAS ISCARIOT! Would you have believed all that about Judas? How did you do on our quiz?

Most people must probably think that Judas looked like a serial killer or maybe like a vagrant or circus swindler, when in reality Judas was a fine appearing man. Judas Iscariot apparently came from Kerioth which was a city of southern Judah between Beersheba and the Dead Sea. If so, he was the only disciple who was not a Galilean.

Now, what was Judas problem? Let's talk about that. It was not his name, because there are seven Judases in the Bible. Judas was a good name, was it not? How many of you parents name you children "Judas?" One of the Judases in the Bible was a brother of Jesus (Matthew 13:55). One was the author of the book of Jude in the Bible. You should name your children Judas. Maybe not, though. How many of the disciples were named Judas? Answer - two (Luke 6:16)!

If the definition of one who is a Christian is: "One who believes that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and the Savior of the world," then Judas was a Christian. I'm glad it's a little deeper than that. He believed that Jesus was the Christ up till the very end. Even then Judas believed that Jesus would escape and set up his own Kingdom. What was his problem?

Luke 6:12-16 One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God. When morning came, he called his disciples to him and chose twelve of them, whom he also designated apostles: Simon (whom he named Peter), his brother Andrew, James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James son of Alphaeus, Simon who was called the Zealot, Judas son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor. Notice the last two are named the same name. In verse 16, they're both named Judas. Judas Iscariot is the very last.

Look at Acts 1:17 The King James describes Judas in a very enlightening way: For he was numbered with us, and had obtained part of this ministry. In other words, it's like he was a sort of a surrogate disciple: not quite true blue. He was numbered with us, but wasn't really with us. "Numbered" but not really a full disciple. Only a part of the ministry seems to be had by Judas. Maybe Judas was not among the original few. In fact we're told he was not numbered among the original few. We're told that one day Judas came up "Soliciting a place in the inner circle of disciples. With great earnestness and apparent sincerity he said: "Master, I will follow thee...." (DA 293), and was invited to do so.

I imagine that when the disciples saw this tall, dark handsome, charismatic Judas, they felt he would be an asset to their group. This was wonderful! Little did they know what they were getting.

Now, Judas was not perfect, was he, like the other disciples. Were they perfect? Were any of them perfect? Are any of us perfect? No, we're not. All of the men Jesus called had significant faults at the time they were chosen. The problem with Judas: You know, as we get older, we ought to be growing more and more like Jesus. But Judas didn't get sweeter as the years went by. He got more like a dill pickle: more critical.

Now, all of the twelve disciples were set aside to the ministry. All twelve were ordained. Jesus got them together in a group and ordained them to the gospel ministry. I can just see Jesus gathering the little band of disciples close about Him and "Kneeling in the midst of them He laid His hands upon their heads. He offered a prayer dedicating them to His sacred work. Thus the Lord's disciples were ordained to the gospel ministry." (DA 296). Judas was an ordained minister!

Jesus loved Judas and Judas loved Jesus (DA 717). Some folk say that all you need is love. Well, you need a bigger love than Judas had for Jesus. If so, then Judas should have been saved. Judas did the work of a disciple. So what was his trouble? His problem was this: Judas wanted to have the best of Jesus and the best of the World, both at the same time. He wanted his Master and his mammon together. Now, there's a problem with that. Judas was not fully surrendered to Jesus. And no one except Jesus knew it until the very end.

You know, there's a new book out. Some of you have heard this. It's called, "What If." It goes through World War II. It goes through all the great battles of the world. What if they did this or what if they did that. Hitler would have won. Napoleon would have done that. What if Judas had died seven days before the cross? Does that stir your mind? What IF Judas had died three days before Jesus died? Everyone would have thought that he was a faithful Christian leader, worthy to have his name written in the Lamb's book of life. His funeral probably would have been well attended. Many would have lamented at the passing of this great disciple. But Jesus knew better. Jesus knew Judas was a lukewarm follower. Half Christian and half not. This makes me think that it might be better to never be born at all, than to be born, but not reborn like Judas.

Come over to John 6 in your Bible. Did Jesus know how bad Judas was? Yes indeed. One full year before the betrayal Jesus foretold that one of the twelve would be the perpetrator (John 6:70-71). Let's begin with John 6:56-60. Jesus is making a statement and He says, "Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him." How many of you have had a glass of blood? That is a shocking statement! "Whoever drinks my blood and eats my flesh is going to remain in me and I in him." Well, that upset many of the disciples "Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your forefathers ate manna and died, but he who feeds on this bread will live forever." On hearing it, many of his disciples said, "This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?" It was pretty hard to accept that saying. You just don't get into that because do Christians drink blood? It's not even Biblical, is it.

Now Judas at that point clearly understood that Jesus was offering spiritual rather than monetary goods. So at that point he realized, "I'm not going to get rich following Jesus." Verses 61-64 Aware that his disciples were grumbling about this, Jesus said to them, "Does this offend you? What if you see the Son of Man ascend to where he was before! The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life. 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. Jesus knew that from day number one.

Let's not miss a point in verse 64. This tells you why Judas was lost. Judas was NOT lost he betrayed Jesus! Judas was lost as it says here in verse 64, it says he did not believe. Jesus says his UNBELIEF doomed Judas. Judas was LOST for the same reason that people are lost today, because they do not believe on the Lord Jesus Christ with our whole heart. Judas had the same opportunity you have to be saved. Judas could have believed and he could have been saved. You're sitting here thinking, "well, I believe." Do you really believe? It's like the fellow that had the tight rope across Niagara Falls. "If you really believe I could push this wheel barrow across there, then get in!" Do we really believe? They didn't. Look at John 6:66, From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him. They did not believe.

Money loving Judas saw his stock going down fast and almost sold out at that point. He was the business manager for Jesus. He was the Conference treasurer. He esteemed himself an honor to the cause (DA 717). But in God's sight he was a thief.

It is interesting that Jesus knew Judas' true character and didn't do anything about it. He didn't do anything to stop Judas. He didn't fire him. He didn't dismiss him or discharge him from the twelve. That's interesting to me. Jesus didn't do anything about it. "What if..." Jesus had mentioned a year before that Judas is going to betray Him. He is going to see to it that Jesus would be killed. If Jesus had mentioned it on the night of the Lord's supper, Judas would never have left that room alive. Peter would have whacked his head off.

Judas was materialistic and greedy. Look at John 12:5,6. Remember the story of Mary pouring a full pint of pure spikenard, an expensive perfume; on Jesus' feet and wiped his feet with her hair. Judas Iscariot objected, "Why wasn't this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year's wages." He was critical of Jesus, wasn't he. He 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.

Often when Judas did a small service for Christ he would pay himself out of the meager fund. In his own eyes he was an asset to the work. But in God's sight old money bag Judas was a thief! When Mary brought in the equivalent of a years wages in her alabaster box you can just see old Judas eyes zeroing in on all that treasure. When she poured it all out he must have almost had a heart attack. Can't you just picture him seeing what's going on with that expensive perfume falling to the floor, into the dirt!

Judas criticized Jesus. He said, "Why wasn't; this sold and given to the poor?" And, you know, in the mail, sometimes, I get very critical things. Critical of the denomination, critical of the church, "Why is this going on? Well, what about this?" I get these mimeographed sheets, these duplicated papers. I am wondering if some of the relatives of Judas are still living today. They're still out there. Criticizing others.

Judas thought that he was smart. I imagine that Judas became enraged when the rich young ruler came to Jesus and applied to become a disciple and was turned down. That would be like Bill Gates wanting to join the Seventh-day Adventist Church. "Well, I'm sorry. You know how it goes. We can't quite accept you. This one thing you lack." How could Jesus turn down such wealth. Jesus surely made a big mistake that time. But Jesus looks on the portfolio of the heart and not the stock on the market.

Judas wanted to be a king maker. He believed that Jesus would stand up and so if he put Jesus in a crisis, that Jesus would come out be victorious. Sort of like tying up Samson with ropes. He would snap loose and say, "Okay, I'm the king. I'm going to take over." And so Judas put him into that point. In betraying Jesus, he wanted to bring things to a head. He believed Jesus would stand up to the Roman guards and set up His kingdom. And guess who would get the credit for placing the King on David s throne.... Judas! Of course if it did not work out that way, Judas would always end up with the betrayal money. Either way he would win.

Look at Luke 22. Something happened to Judas, though. You can't have the world and Jesus at the same time with equal amounts of love. You can't have it both ways. You've got to choose one as your master or the other. LUKE 22:2-6 and the chief priests and the teachers of the law were looking for some way to get rid of Jesus, for they were afraid of the people. Then Satan entered Judas, called Iscariot, one of the Twelve. And Judas went to the chief priests and the officers of the temple guard and discussed with them how he might betray Jesus. They were delighted and agreed to give him money. He consented, and watched for an opportunity to hand Jesus over to them when no crowd was present.

Do you see the danger here? Every human heart is designed to be filled. You're either going to be filled with spirituality or you're going to be filled with wickedness. Either with good or evil. If you do not allow yourself to be filled with the knowledge of Jesus you will eventually be a lodging place for Satan. The devil came into Judas because Jesus wasn't in there. We need to make sure Jesus is in our hearts. We need to make sure we are filled with the knowledge of Jesus or we will be a lodging place for the devil. Judas had put off Jesus too many times and now Satan entered in. When that happens, you don't have long to live. Both Jesus and Judas were soon dead.

At the Lord's supper, that was the last chance Judas had, wasn't it. Because after that he went out and did his deed. I imagine that when Jesus came around washing the disciples' feet, did He wash Judas' feet? Yes He did! He washed them all. I believe that when Jesus knelt there in front of Judas and washing his feet and looking up into Judas' eyes He did so with eyes of love, trying to win Judas, trying to say something that would change Judas' behavior. Imagine the faithful One kneeling at the feet of the faithless one lovingly pleading with him. But Judas hardened his heart.

Psalm 41:9 speaks of Judas: Even my close friend, whom I trusted, he who shared my bread, has lifted up his heel against me. Jesus knew that Judas was the betrayer. Satan must have been happy. If Jesus could not save Judas then Satan could now justify his own fall into rebellion!

John 13:21-30 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 him, "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, but no one at the meal understood why Jesus said this to him. Since Judas had charge of the money, some thought Jesus was telling him to buy what was needed for the Feast, or to give something to the poor. As soon as Judas had taken the bread, he went out. And it was night. It was dark outside. Judas had left the Light of the world and had gone out into the darkness. When you leave the Light of the world and go out, it's dark. He was in the darkness. I want you to know that if you leave Jesus, you gain darkness.

Judas had already made arraignments to sell Jesus for thirty pieces of Silver..about ten ounces: not much. This was the price of a common slave (see Exodus 21:32). The "Contract" was simple: The priest would pay 30 pieces of silver. Judas would lead them to Jesus and identify Him.

The priests purchased Jesus with the temple money which was to be used only to trade for temple sacrifices (Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary vol.5, p.1123) Unknowingly they purchased the Sacrifice of Sacrifices!

Luke 22...Jesus and eleven disciples were in the garden. While Jesus prayed, the eleven slept and the twelfth hunted Jesus to double-cross Him. What poor supporters they were in the hour of Jesus great need.

Luke 47,48 While he was still speaking a crowd came up, and the man who was called Judas, one of the Twelve, was leading them. He approached Jesus to kiss him, but Jesus asked him, "Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?" What a weird way to betray somebody.

The secret code was a kiss. The kiss of death. It was thought that if Judas could kiss Jesus and he was not struck down or vaporized, it would be safe for them to manhandle Jesus.

Verse 49 When Jesus' followers saw what was going to happen, they said, "Lord, should we strike with our swords?" It is a wonder that Peter did not pull out his sword and dispatch Judas first before striking out at the mob.

Rough men came and bound Jesus firmly. I think Judas was amazed when Jesus submitted to that. He had expected Jesus to appear as the Son of God and use His supernatural power to vanquish them into nothing. But Jesus did not. Judas must have closely shadowed Jesus for the next several hours. Finally a terrible fear came over the traitor. That he had sold his Master. It began to dawn on him that Jesus was going to be killed.

Finally he could stand it no longer. Suddenly all could see this tall man standing and hear his hoarse voice ringing through the halls saying: "Jesus is Innocent! I have betrayed an innocent man!" Judas' face was pale and haggard, and great drops of sweat stood out on his forehead.

Matthew 27:3-7 When Judas, who had betrayed him, saw that Jesus was condemned, he was seized with remorse and returned the thirty silver coins to the chief priests and the elders. "I have sinned," he said, "for I have betrayed innocent blood." "What is that to us?" they replied. "That's your responsibility." So Judas threw the money into the temple and left. Then he went away and hanged himself. The chief priests picked up the coins and said, "It is against the law to put this into the treasury, since it is blood money." So they decided to use the money to buy the potter's field as a burial place for foreigners.

For Judas it was too late to return the betrayal money. He had committed the unpardonable sin. Judas went out of the judgment hall that night realizing it was all over. He could not live to see Jesus crucified and so he left downcast and filled with gloom. His plan to have Jesus and to have the world had not worked. It never does.

Judas knew where Calvary was located. He was intelligent. He knew that Jesus would soon walk along that road. He knew the Romans all too well. So he went along that road and found a tree there and hanged himself. Later that day the mob of wicked men came along that road and saw at the foot of a lifeless dead tree the dead body of Judas. The dead limb broke and he fell head long to the ground. The details are found in Acts 1:16b-18 "Judas, who served as guide for those who arrested Jesus--he was one of our number and shared in this ministry." With the reward he got for his wickedness, Judas bought a field; there he fell headlong, his body burst open and all his intestines spilled out.

His horribly mangled body lay at the foot of the dead tree. Dogs were there. The crowd stopped long enough to chase the dogs away and to bury what was left of Judas before going on to hang Jesus. Both Jesus and Judas were hung that same day. One on a tree, One on a cross. One is our Savior, one that was lost. The life of the traitor was over. Such a shame. Whittier said: "Of all sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these: it might have been."

Judas had the ability to be a leader of the stature of Peter or Paul. Judas had the ability, and he squandered it all. Judas could have been one of the greatest disciples. But he was the shortest, because he didn't come out to the stature that Christ expected. Friend, are you using your abilities for Christ today or for the world?

Because he did not live in the light of Jesus he went out in darkness. Please, walk in the light while you have the light.

Judas could have stood tall for Jesus. The tallest disciple fell the lowest. He was a fair-weather Christian. Is your love for Jesus true or superficial? Do you love Jesus with all your heart?

Jesus loved Judas with a deep ever-present love. Jesus loves you with an everlasting love. Jesus waits for your response to His love. Only Jesus would wait so long for someone.

Today Jesus is waiting for you.

Opening Hymn: #559, Now Thank We All Our God
Scripture: Isaiah 64:6-8
Closing Hymn: #76, O Love that will not let me go

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