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Your friend Judas

Judas is a man I think we tend to hate, or at least would like to avoid with a wide range of feelings, considering him a traitor.

After all, he is the one who betrayed Jesus, selling him out for thirty pieces of silver but Jesus loved him.
He loved this man some would call scum so much that he appointed him to one of if not His most trusted and possibly closest position. No one gives someone else control over his or her finances.

Judas was the treasurer of the Jesus of Nazareth Evangelistic Organization.

I seriously doubt if you would give just anybody your check book, but Jesus did.

Judas had the bag from which money was given to the poor and if you stop to consider the implication, Jesus could not have been broke and as poor as some people say, because you cannot give money away if you do not have it, but that’s another story.

Before we go any further, I want to lay a foundation that might give you a better understanding of some of the bible terms we often use, without knowing all their significance.
Names, for example are important, often given to a person at birth as a prophetic declaration of their nature or future.
Moses was so called because he was drawn forth out of the bulrushes.
Jacob’s name meant deceiver or supplanter and God changed his name, hence his prophetic destiny and nature to Israel...a prince with God.
We call our Lord’s name Jesus. In the Greek it is Iēsous. The Hebrew is Yehôshuaʿ. It comes from the names Yehovah and Yasha` meaning Jehovah-saved. Associated with these names are two others- Howshea` and Yeshuwa`, meaning deliverer and he will save.
The word Christ is not His name, but his title or office. He is Jesus...the anointed one.
The name Jesus is not uncommon and other men were also so called, but none of them were anointed ones.

According to common custom, the names of some of Jesus’ disciples were associated with their fathers, such as-
James the son of Alphaeus Matthew 10:3, James and John, sons of Zebedee Matthew 10:2 and Judas, son of Simon John 6:71; 13:2, 2. Others were given nicknames like Simon, called Peter (the Rock), Simon the Cananaean (zealot. See Luke 6:15), James and John, sons of thunder Mark 3:17 and Matthew, the tax collector Matthew 10:2.

Judas is a bit of an enigma. He is often called Judas Iscariot and we are uncertain of the reason.
One possibility is that he was so called, coming from the region known as Kerioth, but this is unlikely because Luke gave him the nickname in Luke 22:3 as the one who was called Iscariot.

John listed him as the son of Simon as seen above and there were other men also called Judas, one of whom was a son of Israel, head of one of the twelve tribes.

Such detail is important, but often overlooked. The more likely reason for the use of Iscariot is that it could mean lie, man of the lie, liar and dagger- bearer.

Would you choose such a person for a strategic role, knowing that he was a cheat, a liar and one who would stab you in the back?
I wouldn’t—but Jesus did! You will see that, although Judas did what he did, he actually did precisely what God wanted and more than that...he could actually be “useful” to us in a strange way as you shall see.

Scriptures tell us-
Even my own familiar friend, in whom I trusted (relied on and was confident), who ate of my bread, has lifted up his heel against me. Psalm 41:9
I am not saying these things to all of you; I know the ones I have chosen. But this fulfills the Scripture that says, ‘The one who eats my food has turned against me.’ John 13:18

 
In that passage of John, Jesus had been washing the feet of the disciples—including Judas’ feet. The Master was humbling Himself before His betrayer and I find that astounding to say the least. It screams volumes about how different we really are to Him.
It was not a ceremony as it has occasionally devolved to in some religious circles today, but a prophetic declaration.
Where I live has bitumen a sealed road at the end of a cul-de-sac with a stamped concrete drive to a garage with an automatic door. I simply drive up and push a button, keep driving inside and park my car. I can get out of an air-conditioned vehicle and walk straight into an air-conditioned house and not get my feet dirty or have to dodge inclement weather.

They did not have such things. They walked dusty unsealed roads and tracks in the open with sandaled feet. The paths they took were often shared with animals and I need not share more about that, so their feet would have been dirty to say the least, so this might not have been a pleasant task at all, yet Jesus did it, even to a man who was already plotting against him.

Let us see the full account.
Before the Passover celebration, Jesus knew that his hour had come to leave this world and return to his Father. He had loved his disciples during his ministry on earth, and now he loved them to the very end. 
It was time for supper, and the devil had already prompted Judas, son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. 
Jesus knew that the Father had given him authority over everything and that he had come from God and would return to God. 
So he got up from the table, took off his robe, wrapped a towel around his waist,  and poured water into a basin. Then he began to wash the disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel he had around him. 
When Jesus came to Simon Peter, Peter said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” 
Jesus replied, “
You don’t understand now what I am doing, but someday you will.” 
“No,” Peter protested, “you will never ever wash my feet!” Jesus replied, “
Unless I wash you, you won’t belong to me.” 
Simon Peter exclaimed, “Then wash my hands and head as well, Lord, not just my feet!” John 13:1-9

I pondered over Jesus’ reply. Let us see the first part-

One who has bathed,” Jesus told him, “doesn’t need to wash anything except his feet” John 13:10-11

When you or I take a shower, we are clean all over. After we have bathed, our feet are clean—just as clean as the rest of our bodies, but the Lord said that even after we have bathed, we still need to make sure our feet are clean. “What does this mean?”

I thought about this when suddenly the Lord poked me in the ribs and said that our feet take us on our journey in life. It speaks of our way of life. If this is true, then when we come to Jesus and are born again, we are washed in the precious blood of Jesus and are clean indeed, but...

That is the start of a whole new way of life and we need to “keep our feet clean”. We need to ensure that our way of life is consistent with the way of life Jesus has ordained for us and that is our responsibility.

We can start off well, but along the journey, we can be exposed and possibly contaminated by the dirt, dust and grime of the world and its ways. I hope you see it. This is one reason why we are told to renew our minds according to scriptures like Romans 12:1-2 and Ephesians 4:23.

We can be born again but still think like aliens, or as Paul said, be at enmity with God in our thinking processes according to Romans 8:7. Actually there are some 39 references to this topic in Paul’s epistles, so it is important.  

Judas never did that! Judas started well, and preached with the others on their assignments. He would have seen miracles and returned with the others as seen for example in Luke 10. He would have distributed the fish and loaves of bread with the others when Jesus fed the multitudes. He would have seen Peter walk on water to the Lord.  He would have seen Lazarus walk out of the tomb, but he never kept his feet clean.
Paul would have told him that he did not ensure that his feet were shod with the preparation of the Gospel of peace as seen in Ephesians 6:15.

Jesus continued-
For Jesus knew who would betray him. That is what he meant when he said, “Not all of you are clean.” 
After washing their feet, he put on his robe again and sat down and asked, “
Do you understand what I was doing? 
You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and you are right, because that’s what I am. 
And since I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash each other’s feet. 
I have given you an example to follow. Do as I have done to you. 
I tell you the truth, slaves are not greater than their master. Nor is the messenger more important than the one who sends the message. 
Now that you know these things, God will bless you for doing them. 
“I am not saying these things to all of you; I know the ones I have chosen. But this fulfills the Scripture that says, ‘The one who eats my food has turned against me.’ 
I tell you this beforehand, so that when it happens you will believe that I AM the Messiah. 
I tell you the truth, anyone who welcomes my messenger is welcoming me, and anyone who welcomes me is welcoming the Father who sent me
.” 
Now Jesus was deeply troubled, and he exclaimed, “
I tell you the truth, one of you will betray me!”
John 13:11-21  

He knew that Judas would betray Him, but still washed his feet. Why? Why would the Lord even choose such a man, knowing such things? The Lord needed a traitor! I shall come back to this later, but let us continue.

The Last Supper has been depicted by the arts and religious tradition, picturing Jesus sitting in the middle of a single long table. This might not be accurate. It is more likely to have been a U-shaped table, with the Lord indeed sitting in the middle, with John at one side and Judas on the other! I say this carefully. When He told them that one of them would betray Him the disciples ooked at each other in wonderment—except for two—John and Judas.

Then the disciples looked one on another, doubting of whom he spake. 
Now there was leaning on Jesus’ bosom one of his disciples, whom Jesus loved
Simon Peter therefore beckoned to him, that he should ask who it should be of whom he spake. 
He then lying on Jesus’ breast saith unto him, Lord, who is it? John 13:22-25


Note my emphasis. They were not sitting upright at a table as I do and as you may do perhaps, but reclining on one side, probably on cushions and reached across from time to time to help themselves to food set before them.

It was Passover,  so the meal would have been roast lamb, with accompanying items. Jews today follow similar lines. My Passover Haggadah (order of service) comprises three plates. On one is three Matzoth (bread). In another is a shank bone and a boiled egg, some horse radish (bitter herbs) and either celery or parsley and a compound called Haroseth of nuts, fruits and wine.  Vinegar or salt water is on the third. The egg, shank bone, bitter herbs, parsley and haroseth is on the Seder Plate.
This is the modern day version of that Last Supper.

Jesus made this declaration when they were dining and it startled them.

Peter asked John to ask Jesus who it was and as John was reclining next to Jesus (leaning on His breast), all John had to do was ask. Why didn’t Peter ask Him directly? Why didn’t Mathew or the others ask?
Well, there could have been several reasons, one of which was the initial shock, but one factor may have been their seating arrangements.
If John, the one Jesus loved (He loves us all of course) was sitting next to the Lord on one hand, the person on the other side had to have had a preferred relationship.

I put it to you that it was Judas and this is why.
He kept the check book.

All the disciples except John and possibly Judas wondered who it was. Peter didn’t know. He asked John to ask Jesus and when the Lord answered, he said that the one to whom He gave the sop was the one.

Now, this poses a problem. What is a sop?

This is a small mouthful of food coming from the Greek word psōmion that is a crumb or a small portion that is rubbed off something. They were Jews, so followed the instructions given them by God back in Exodus chapter twelve.
It included the eating of unleavened bread.
It follows on that this sop or small portion rubbed off something was a mouthful of unleavened bread, rolled together to prevent it from falling apart and often dipped into a dish containing a liquid.

To give this to Judas without it breaking up meant that Judas had to be very close. Remember that they were all reclining at table. Now if Judas managed the finances, it is logical that he would have been close both in relationship and in proximity. In Matthew’s account (Matthew 26:2) it states that Jesus said that the one who dipped his hand with Him in the dish was the betrayer. You’ve got to be close to do that.
Jesus then told him to do what he was going to do quickly (John 13:27) and Judas got up and went out.

Some of the disciples assumed that Jesus had given him some instruction to give money to the poor as He often did, or to buy things needed for the feast. They did not need a thing, because everything was already provided in advance by the owner of that upper room.

They assumed one thing correctly however in that Judas handled their finances, but he was a cheat. It is believed that he mishandled money and was looking for a way to restore what he had stolen, possibly worth 30 pieces of silver before anyone discovered it. He now had a golden opportunity to restore things before things before being caught out and went to the priests to negotiate the amount. He had been working to a plan and Jesus gave him the way to execute it.

Did Jesus make a mistake in picking Judas? Certainly not. When He started His ministry, He chose men, just in the same way He picks and choses men today (no gender implied). The core qualities He is looking for is not ability but avail-ability. Ability, gifts and talents come along the  way as the anointing comes. That’s what it is for.  Jesus saw men who were available and simply told them, “Follow Me”. He still says the same things today and it is really that simple.
 
Ordinary men and women can still follow Him today and still do what those early pioneers of our faith did for a simple reason. It is all of Him and none of us. Truly, what He said, “Without me you can do nothing” is true, but what Paul said, “I can do all things through Christ (the anointing) which strengthenth me” is just as true.

Early in His ministry, Jesus chose men who were no different to you and me. In Matthew 10, we see that He called his disciples and gave the authority to do what He did.
They all, including Judas, performed the same miracles He did, so having signs, wonders and miracles in one’s ministry does not necessarily prove that the person really has his or her act together.

In that account, Matthew included Judas Iscariot adding, “who also betrayeth Him”. Judas was handpicked for a specific role and it was crucial for the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus.

Without Judas, Calvary may never have happened!
Without Judas, the whole plan of salvation could have failed.

When you and I pick someone for a task, we often make our choices depending on personality traits, talents and abilities, education, training and qualifications. We can pick those who appeal to us touch our hearts.
We might want someone bold and in your face like Peter who will stick up for us when we need such support.
We might want a John or a Barnabas who will be faithful and stick close to us.
We could choose an accountant like tax collector Matthew, but not want a liar and a cheat like Judas to handle our bank account.

Jesus picked those men for what they had to offer Him and He also picked a scoundrel who would steal from the bank account and give the devil a legal foothold to infiltrate his life thinking he could kill off the ministry and cause what he thought was happening from happening.

Pause for a moment and think that the devil, despite all his evil and venom, did the will of God. He had no choice really. Imagine that.

So the Lord had a collection of all kinds of people working with Him. We usually think about serving Him or working for Him but we are co-workers with Him. This is not negating His Kingly reign and all that is associated with it. He is still God, but in a mysterious way we rule and reign with Him in life and we in essence take him with us when we minister on His behalf.
In Mark 16 where He spoke about the signs that are to accompany us, we see that those believers and we are also believers went forth preaching everywhere and that He went with and confirmed the preaching of His gospel with those signs. The KJV includes the word them which means it was not in the original, so this validates my statement.

The people He chose to work with Him are no different to you and they like us were a motley bunch indeed.

We have doubting Thomas with us, impetuous Peter with us, soft and gentle John with us, sons of thunder with us and of course a Judas with us. Oh yes, Judas is here.

What is he like? Well, we know that he pilfered money. Such people are still with us.

Such prophecies as I have previously mentioned in Psalm 41, were also mentioned in Acts 1 when we see- During this time, when about 120 believers were together in one place, Peter stood up and addressed them. 

“Brothers,” he said, “the Scriptures had to be fulfilled concerning Judas, who guided those who arrested Jesus. This was predicted long ago by the Holy Spirit, speaking through King David. 
Judas was one of us and shared in the ministry with us.” 
(Judas had bought a field with the money he received for his treachery. Falling headfirst there, his body split open, spilling out all his intestines. 
The news of his death spread to all the people of Jerusalem, and they gave the place the Aramaic name Akeldama, which means “Field of Blood.”) Acts 1:15-19

Some church tradition teaches that there were only 12 believers, but we see here that there were 120.
Some traditions also say that, full of remorse, Judas returned the money. He never repented, kept the money with which he bought some land and eventually committed suicide. Knowing all this in advance, Jesus still chose him—because He needed him.

Please do not misunderstand what I am about to say, but in a sense may also need our own “Judas”.

Hard as that may sound, we do not want a Peter to challenge our mission or a Peter to deny us when we need someone to stand with us when necessary, even if only to say, “I believe in you.”
We do not want others who will flee when opposition comes. Even the disciple Jesus loved, who leant on His breast and saw Him transfigured on the mount abandoned Him when Jesus had requested prayer support.
We definitely do not want a doubting Thomas, wondering what we are doing. Such things are infectious.
I say that we may “need” for want of a better word, to learn.

You might be called to be a “Joseph” but Joseph was betrayed by his own brethren and went through hell on earth before God promoted him and his prophetic destiny was fulfilled.

We do not necessarily immediately go straight into our ultimate ministry, but go by way of testing, refining, opposition, disappointment, opportunities to prove God—and betrayal just as much as the good times and highs we like. Sometimes we have to go into the crucible to refine us.

A goldsmith refines gold by melting it and as the dross rises to the surface, skims it off and plunges the gold back into the furnace to repeat the process. He knows the gold is pure, when he can look down at it and see his own reflection. I am not advocating that we have to go through all that stuff, but if and when we do, we need to realize what is happening. Sometimes we fight against that and miss out on what God is really wanting to do in our lives.

I want you to know that God can bless you in the most unlikely ways in the most adverse situations or in the worst of relationships. We can be and sometimes are betrayed, by those we thought we could rely on. Sadly, it seems that the ones who hurt us most are fellow believers or co-workers. We are hurt more because we expect them to understand, know better and be supportive.
Let’s be honest. If they cannot see what you can see, why do we expect them to be with it? They might not be able to.

Judas can and will betray us, but that is not the end of the story. Such a betrayal can be turned around as an opportunity for us to dig in  to God and tap into Him more. You could have dug a well only to have someone steal it (that’s happened to me) and instead of throwing a tantrum—let them have it and go dig another like Isaac did and keep doing that until you find a real gusher that is where God wanted you all the time.

A Judas could be “used by God” to make you keep digging until you find that. We can be wounded or betrayed by someone we allowed to have too much liberty in our lives. We could have a great vision and think that everyone else will be happy for us and shoot our mouths off prematurely or with the wrong people (a Judas) and inevitably be hurt in the process. The dream or vision is OK, but in our keenness and excitement talk to someone who will not like it or misunderstand it. There are times when we just do not have the full picture, so until then—Shhh!
I am often asked to visit people who are impatient, who are anxious and who might not understand such things yet, but until God gives His approval and opens the way, none of us knows the whole story. Sometimes a “delay” is for a good reason, yet to be revealed and the outcome will be much better. 
Many a good person has become shipwrecked for being impetuous.

I think that by now you will know that a challenge or a setback is not the end of the story. It could be an opportunity to put the things of God to the test by applying the principles and see what God does.

A Judas could be used to challenge you to do just that. You need him more than you realize. Sometimes his betrayals and assaults can back us into a corner and drive us to our knees, crying out to God in the correct manner.
Complaining is not appropriate.
Fighting back might not be appropriate.
Running to another believer could be the worst thing to do (especially if he is a Judas type) but sitting with God to discuss the matter and seek His counsel is. I said—discuss the problem, not complain about it. He already knows what is going on. Tell Him about it, share how you feel and ask Him what you have to do. That’s the best remedy. Bitterness only produces illness and loss. Love produces the peace and joy that keeps us going. We do not like tests and trials, but they are the very things that allow us to prove we are real—and that God honors His word.

Its easy to put on a face in church and say “Amen” when the preacher says something good, but when you are alone is another matter.
It’s easy to sit at table with John and feel the love, but another to be there with a Judas who is there to wound you—and you know it. I know what I am talking about my friend, because I’ve been there, but I also know that God is faithful.

No matter who is there with us, we can keep the love going, when Love Himself is with us. I do not like Judas. I suspect that Jesus did not like him either—but He loved him and went to the cross for him.

I have a problem now. It is how to close this message. I’ve shared some basic and sometimes hard hitting truths with you. Even if you do not like him, Judas could be your friend, not for what he does, but for what you do in response. He could be the very catalyst you need to take you further on your journey with the Lord.

Blessings,

Robert


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