Wednesday, March 25, 2015


    I have been trying to finish a couple of books on my reading list, and in doing so, I was able to finish Twelve Ordinary Men by John MacArthur, a book I'd started on a long plane flight, then forgot about after I got home. It is a very good book about each of the disciples, but my favorite chapter to read was the one on Judas Iscariot.

    After reading the chapter on Judas, it made me reflect on several thoughts from MacArthur and several that just popped into my head randomly that tie into the story of Judas. That's what I'll be writing about today.

    When was the last time you met somebody named Judas? Having a hard time remembering anybody? While I have met dozens of people with Bible names (Joshua, Judah, Sarah, John, Jonathan, Peter, James, Nathan, Abigail, etc.), I have yet to meet a Judas. Why?

    Judas succeeded in becoming the mental image that comes to mind at the word "betrayal" or "traitor". All of us have heard a person referred to as a "Judas". He was so much the epitome of a traitor that our culture now uses his name as synonymous with the word "traitor".

    Judas was the master deceiver, a hypocrite of the highest order. Imagine living with eleven men for three years, deceiving them so adeptly that even when Jesus pinpoints Judas as the betrayer, the disciples think he must have meant something different (Jn. 13:26-29)! Judas had so masterfully masked his true heart that men he ate, slept, walked, preached, and lived with couldn't recognize him for who he really was even when pointed at!

    Think about the opportunity Judas had! The opportunity to walk with Jesus, to hear nearly every word Jesus said, to travel with him, to sit in on the heart to heart talks that Jesus had with his disciples! Yet all these things, all these great things Judas had the opportunity to see and hear, were not enough to persuade Judas to be a heart follower of Christ.

    My warning to all of us as Christians today is that we not imitate Judas in his masterful hypocrisy. It is such a temptation to walk into church as the "good" Christian, the one with the answers, with the enlightened spiritual state, the one with the knowledge, and yet miss Christ. The grave and awful truth is that it is 100 percent possible to know every fact in the world about God and about Jesus, yet still burn in hell for eternity.

    Judas knew more head knowledge about the intimate details of Jesus than I will probably ever know. Judas ate with Him, slept with Him, talked face to face with Him, went places with Him, and preached about Him. Yet Judas never knew the man he did all these things with.

    Jesus teaches that it is quite possible for us to keep up the front, perform all the right actions, even going above and beyond, in His name, and still never know Him, and have Him not to know us (Matt. 7: 21-23). If any man every put on a convincing front, it was Judas. Here was a man so convincing in his acting righteous, that the other disciples apparently elected him as the most trustworthy of them all (Jn. 12:6)! They chose him to keep the money bag.

    I think this is a warning for all of us to heed. What other people think and say about you says very little about your true spiritual state. We can all keep up an act at church. We can all keep up the spiritual act around our Christian friends.

    But what saddens me more than anything else is that the number that Jesus claims He will be forced to say on judgment day that He never knew will be no small number. It will be "many". Probably people I know, people I've met, maybe even people I've swapped a few "Christian" sentences with. But they never actually knew Christ. They could walk and walk and talk the talk, but they never knew Him.

    When we come together, let's not play the super-spiritual, got-it-all together guy. Let's not come only with all the information, all the facts, the knowledge and the numbers, but let's actually come to know Jesus Christ, to understand His character, to listen to His voice, and to genuinely, whole-heartedly love Him.

    What did Jesus teach was the greatest commandment? Was it that we must know the five points of Calvinism and why we believe each one? Was it that we must be able to name all the items in the tabernacle and the symbolism behind them? Or was it just to simply love God with everything in us, and then turn, and show that love to our neighbor and our enemies? Gather all the knowledge you can, on spiritual matters or otherwise, but that knowledge is not what saves you. It is a Person that saves you.

    Please, please, don't turn Christianity into a mere pursuit of knowledge. Judas, for all his knowledge and even preaching, betrayed God with a kiss. Knowledge is great, and please, learn all you can about Christ. But don't lower Christianity to a mere intellectual pursuit. Don't convince yourself you are saved because everyone else thinks you are and tells you that you are. Don't pour your energy into keeping up the facade of the spiritual, factual, knowledgeable Christian, but instead pour your energy into that relationship with Christ. Know Him. Listen to Him. Abide with Him.

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