Friday, March 9, 2012

“Jesus before His Betrayer” (Mt. 26:47‑49). 3rd in sermon series Places of the Passion

S-1301 3MIL/3B 3/07/12 Hymns: (O) #551 vv. 1-3; (S) #153; (C) #551 vv. 4-6 TLH

Text: Psalm 16:81-88; Isaiah 45:5-11; Galatians 6:1-10; Matthew 26:47‑56,

Theme: “Jesus before His Betrayer” (Mt. 26:47‑49). 3rd in sermon series Places of the Passion

Question: “Have you ever been stabbed?” Armour, SD.

Faithful followers of the Savior, the text for the 3rd Midweek in Lent is from the Gospel Lesson: “While He was still speaking, Judas came, one of the twelve, and with him a great crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests and the elders of the people. Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, ‘The one I will kiss is the Man; seize Him.’ And he came up to Jesus at once and said, ‘Greetings, Rabbi!’ And he kissed Him’” (Matthew 26:47‑49).

Beloved in the Lord, last week, we saw Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane pleading with His heavenly Father for help to take away the Cup of Suffering, but there was none; to His disciples and they were sleeping. He spent hours in prayer and preparation for the final battle. And at the end of the raging conflict in that dark, dismal and dreary night, Jesus came to His disciples, and said: “Rise, let us be going; see, My betrayer is at hand.” (Mt. 26:46b).

Never had that bright Middle Eastern moon looked down on a deed of darkness such as is now to be executed; never before or since has it been the sad duty of historians to tell of such a heinous crime; only in the heart of those who sneak and slither in the dark and slimy corridors of hell could such an act of iniquity have been born.

Come with me now as we continue on the journey to the Places of the Passion and behold that Fateful Kiss that condemned an innocent man to death. Come and see with your own eyes a very dear and precious son of Abraham, convicting The Son of Abraham with the “kiss of death.” PAUSE.

It all started few hours ago in the Upper Room in preparation for the Passover Meal. The Rabbi had taken a basin and towel and washed the disciples’ feet. While they were reclining and partaking of The Meal of Forgiveness, Jesus said: “Truly, I say to you, one of you will betray Me” (Mt. 26:21). Soon after, Jesus watched one of His own—Judas, walk away from the Meal of LOVE, knowing that forgiveness would be there for this fellow, but he was not going to believe it. What a hard thing it must have been for Jesus to say, “It would have been better if he had never been born.”

Look at Jesus’ face in contrast to the bright Middle Eastern moon and see the pain etched on His face. Do you see the sting and sorrow, anguish and ache, the pang and pain in Jesus’ face? Throughout His earthly ministry He has been teaching and telling others, “For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many” (Mk. 10:45). But the One Jesus loved wouldn’t permit Jesus to serve him, love him, save him or forgive him.

My precious saints, if you’ve ever been betrayed by a close friend, family member, or even a husband or wife, then you know what bitter pain will strike Jesus when He watches one of His own disciples bringing soldiers into the garden where He often met with His band of followers to betray Him with a kiss. But why?

Judas seems to have had every possible spiritual advantage. He was chosen to be one of the twelve by Jesus. For three years, he traveled and lived as a disciple of the Rabbi. Judas heard Jesus teach, preach and tell parables; he saw the many healings and other miracles; He helped pass out food during the feeding of the 5000; he was there to see Jesus raise the dead and he was even in the boat when Jesus calmed the storm at sea. Imagine what those three years must have been like. He tasted first-hand, the sweet message of love and grace from His Rabbi Jesus.

How could Judas do such a dreadful thing, after all that he had seen & done? How could he be exposed to Jesus everyday, for all that time, hearing the incredible and amazing things Jesus said, seeing the marvelous and miracles Jesus did, how could he in the end, betray Him? How could he be so unmoved, so little effect on him as to not respond with amazement and gratitude? Doesn’t it make you wonder, how come and why did Judas do it?

Let me be very candid. The Bible is quite explicit, that it was Judas alone as the culprit. He had a choice. The text holds him responsible for his decision. He wasn’t a puppet or pawn, patsy or powerless to do anything else. On the night of the Last Supper, in the Upper Room, this disciple was next to Jesus in the place of honor, and Jesus washed his feet as an expression of love. Scripture is clear that even then, Jesus was holding open a door, a possibility – a desire to Judas to repent, and to not go through with his terrible arrangement. Judas had another option, but he chose to betray His Lord. How sad.

Certainly, that betrayal by His closest companion, one of His very own, with the Fateful Kiss, sealed His fate; and shows the depravity of man. Here we see the heart of man for what it really is—always evil. Sin is never as horrible as when it uses holy things to accomplish its wicked end. It is like putting poison in a drink.

But what about us? How many times have we betrayed our Lord? How many times have we done the evil under the Midwest moon and like a snake slithering into the slimy and murky waters of death and destruction? How many times have we witnessed the mighty miracles of Jesus in our lives, only to turn and join camps with the devil? How often have we dishonored and disobeyed the Lord of heaven and earth, because He didn’t do what we thought He should do. PAUSE.

Tonight, as we witness first-hand the betrayal of the Sinless Son of God with that Fateful Kiss, let me share with you that we are not above Judas or any other person. Let us not stand in pomp and power saying, “I will NEVER do anything like this!” But oh, we do, and often. We sin much, we fall flat on our face, and we run and hide from God, because our hearts are filled with sin and malice.

That is why Jesus came to earth. That is why He entered Jerusalem. That is why He prayed in Gethsemane. That is why He allowed Himself to be betrayed. Ant that is why He is here this evening with you and me to give us comfort as we hear the Word spoken and applied to our broken hearts.

When Judas came, he had a host of people with Him, with lanterns and swords. They were expecting Jesus to be hiding and afraid. Instead, He walked to them and spoke 3 very important Words that should give us hope, comfort and joy. “I AM HE!”

“I Am He,” answered Jesus. “I Am Jesus of Nazareth, whom ye seek.” It appears that with these words, Jesus affirmed all of the things He had spoken about Himself. These enemies knew these things about Him. With these 3 words: “I Am He,” they were all explained. I Am the Light of the world; he that follows Me will not walk in darkness”. “I Am the true Bread which came down from heaven; if any man eat of this bread he shall live forever”. “I Am the resurrection and the life; he that believes in Me, though he were dead, yet shall he live”. “I Am the good shepherd”. “If you don’t believe I Am He you shall die in your sins.” “Before Abraham was I Am.” Certainly never had any mighty one spoken words of such honor, such majesty, and of such power as the Lord Jesus in these words: I Am He”.

Notice with your eyes tonight beloved in the Lord, the might and power of these three words: Before Jesus gives His life over into the hands of His enemies; the unrighteous must fall into the dust before the King of Truth—this demonstrates that Jesus will reign supreme over every evil force; and shows Himself the Victor and Conqueror. And the Words of the Apostle Paul in Philippians are a foreshadow of that which is to come: Therefore God has highly exalted Him and bestowed on Him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father”. Yes, Jesus is not afraid of His betrayer or those who came to arrest Him. He goes willingly to the cross.

Tonight, as we stand beneath the Midwest moon and see the Betrayer doing his evil deed, and hear Jesus speak His mighty and powerful three Words: “I Am He,” may we take comfort that He will never betray us. He will never leave us, but always and forever, He is reaching out to us in mercy and love and calling us to repentance. Here tonight, you will learn anew the love of Jesus who came as the heaven-sent Ambassador to lay down His life as a ransom for many—YOU DEAR SAINTS.

Join me therefore, in proclaiming to the world, that Jesus is He who has saved us, forgiven us, and loved us to death. In His name and for His sake, Amen!!!

Now the peace…


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