Sunday service 4 July 2021 – Do not betray the Lord

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Introduction Albu van Eeden
Welcome to the house of the Lord even though we are not physically in a building, but may God grant that each one listening will find him/herself in the house of the Lord with us. Brethren, I believe the Lord will give us everything we need. No matter where you are and what you are doing, we trust that the Lord knows your needs and will provide through His message this morning. We trust that your soul will be fed and equipped for the week ahead.

Although you can see the pulpit, we are preaching from an empty auditorium due to the government prohibition on gatherings. The July Youth Conference will take place from 9-15 July.

Nico Bosman
I greet you in the wonderful name of our Lord. It is wonderful to meet around God’s word. The Lord is good to us. It is amazing when we see what He is doing. I am convinced that we do not deserve what the Lord is giving us. My heart overflows when one sees what the Lord is also doing spiritually. He still teaches and convicts us. It is wonderful if the Lord is with us. How can one say the Lord is good, you make ask? We are living during COVID, people are sick and dying, you may have lost a loved one. I am convinced that even in these circumstances, if we seek the Lord and look to Him, we can see that He is with us. I remember some years back when the Lord took our child. I one day said to Rev Stegen, “Some times are difficult and some days are really difficult.” He responded with something I always remember, “On those days you must put your emotions aside and stand on God’s promises. On those days hold onto what the Lord has promised and that will lift you up.” Even in difficult times the Lord can lift us up.

When I stand here, I share that which is on my heart prayerfully. I pray and ask the Lord what He wants me to say. I believe that that which He brings to my mind is what I need to say whether it is difficult, I need to be obedient. Each listener should also be before the Lord. Do not just do what I say, but take it before the Lord and ask, “Lord, what should I do with this? What do you say about this which I have heard?” Allow the Lord to speak to you. He may confirm it or tell you what it means in your life. Do not do what I have said and then say, “I do not feel that I should do it, but the preacher said I should.” Do what the Lord tells you to do then you can say it is from the Lord. If the Lord can use what I say, then I praise Him for it but let Him speak to you. If you feel something is not for you, leave it. Rev Stegen has often said that when you eat chicken, eat the meat, and leave the bones. If the Lord tells you to do something, do it. If He wants you chew that which you think is a bone, do it.

Our reading today is taken from Matthew 26.

47 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. 48 Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, “The one I will kiss is the man; seize him.” 49 And he came up to Jesus at once and said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” And he kissed him. 50 Jesus said to him, “Friend, do what you came to do.”[f] Then they came up and laid hands on Jesus and seized him. 51 And behold, one of those who were with Jesus stretched out his hand and drew his sword and struck the servant[g] of the high priest and cut off his ear. 52 Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back into its place. For all who take the sword will perish by the sword. 53 Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels? 54 But how then should the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must be so?” 55 At that hour Jesus said to the crowds, “Have you come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs to capture me? Day after day I sat in the temple teaching, and you did not seize me. 56 But all this has taken place that the Scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled.” Then all the disciples left him and fled. Matthew 26:47 – 56

It was customary in many of the eastern countries that people greeted one another with a kiss. When Esau and Jacob made peace, the Bible says that they greeted with a kiss. When Moses met his father-in-law, he greeted him with a kiss. It symbolises friendship. In verse 49, Judas greeted the Lord with a kiss, but it was different. I may be wrong to say that this was the most deceitful act in the history of mankind. Judas greeted our Lord with a kiss. It seemed good. A bystander would have said they were friends. Yet it was so deceiving, so misleading, such a terrible thing.

A kiss is a token of allegiance and friendship. But Judas, when he broke all the laws of love and duty, profaned this sacred sign to serve his purpose. Note, there are many that betray Christ with a kiss, and Hail, Master; who, under pretence of doing Him honour, betray and undermine the interests of His kingdom. Matthew Henry

There are Christians today who say, “Hail Master”, but they betray their Christ. They pretend they are doing good, and they think they are doing good. They want to show that they are doing good, but they may be acting. They undermine the interests of God’s kingdom. Their motives and purposes are wrong. The reason why they are doing what they are can be wrong. Friends, it is possible that we do things so that everyone can see that I am doing good, but my motive is wrong. It is possible to put up a front, but in God’s eyes, I betray Him. It can seem good to the one next to you, but in your heart, you know it is not. Do not say, “I am not a Judas. I will never betray the Lord, yet you continue in your sin.” You say, “I am not a Judas. I would never do what he did…” yet you greet your brother in a friendly manner but in your heart, you hate him. You say, “I am not a Judas…” yet you continue gossiping and you betray the Lord all over again.

J Edwin Orr said that if you talk to another person and you put a third person in a worse position than he was, you have gossiped. You say, “I am not a Judas…” but you talk about other people and slander them.

But what if I should be guilty of the same sin as Judas. I have been baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus, I am a member of his visible church, I sit at His communion table, all these are so many kisses off my lips. Am I sincere in them? If not, I am a traitor. CH Spurgeon

If I am not sincere in that which I pretend to do, I am a traitor, a Judas.

Do I live in the world as carelessly as others do, and yet make a profession of being a follower of Jesus? Surely if I act thus inconsistently, I am a Judas, and it were better for me that I had never been born.

We cannot be careless about our lives. We cannot go about our everyday lives as we want. We may not be inconsistent Christians that are up one day up and down the next. One day, everything good, one day not. Spurgeon says that if you act inconsistently, you are a Judas, it would have been better if you had never been born. No wonder the Lord says that we should rather be hot or cold. Such a person could be a Judas, I am saying now.

Are our lives pure and dedicated? In that which you see and do not see, are you giving Jesus a Judas kiss again? Let us search our lives. What is there in my life that betrays the Lord, especially that which is in secret? It could be the sin I am holding onto which will make me a traitor.

I would like to focus on the five groups of people who were there when Judas performed this act: Judas, the Pharisees, the soldiers, the disciples, and the Lord Jesus.

Judas, how did you get here? How is it possible? You were with Jesus, you saw the miracles, you were with the other disciples, you experienced everything, yet you ended up here. The first thing we learn about Judas is in John 12. Judas looked after the disciples’ money bag. John writes that Judas took some of that money. He was a thief. He most probably started with just a little bit of money. I am sure he did not take everything the first time. Sin very often starts small and then it grows. Judas, a disciple of the Lord Jesus, had a small sin in his life. You think, “I have this small sin in my life, this small something, but I will be strong and it will not affect me.” Yes, we all know Judas as a traitor, but when he was a disciple, he did not think that such a small sin would eventually pull him down. You think that little thing will not kill you? You think that you do not need to deal with it? Christian, that thing will eventually get to you.

Something else about Judas. In Matthew 27, he did not realise the extent of what he was doing then, he only realised it later. At the time he did not realise what the result of his actions would be. Judas did not realise what he was busy with until it was too late, until he saw it happening.

Then when Judas, his betrayer, saw that Jesus was condemned, he changed his mind and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders, saying, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.” They said, “What is that to us? See to it yourself.” And throwing down the pieces of silver into the temple, he departed, and he went and hanged himself. Matthew 27:3 – 5

Dear Christian, we can sit with things in our lives and not deal with them until it is too late – the day we realise it. That very thing will take you somewhere where you do not want to be.

The dissembling compliment he gave his Master. He came close up to Jesus; surely now, if ever, his wicked heart will relent; surely when he comes to look him in the face, he will either be awed by its majesty, or charmed by its beauty. Dares he to come into his very sight and presence, to betray him? Peter denied Christ, but when the Lord turned and looked upon him, he relented presently; but Judas comes up to his Master's face, and betrays him. Matthew Henry

Have we become so hard that we can sit in the Lord’s presence with that which is against us and the Lord? Peter denied the Lord, but when the Lord looked at him, he repented. Have you become as hard as Judas, even before the Lord when He looks at you, when He convicts and shows you, you remain hard and dare to stand before the Lord with your sin and wickedness? Judas died a terrible death and that is the end of such actions.

The Pharisees. In those days, the Pharisees were good people. The history books tell us that they maintained a simple lifestyle, they were affectionate and harmonious in their dealings with others, they were respectful and influential. History books say that while they were sound in their professions and creeds, their system of religion was more about outside form than genuine faith. (www.learnreligions.com) They were not devilish people who swayed people against Him. They were seen as good people yet they were instrumental in crucifying the Lord. The Pharisees could not bear the truth of Christ’s teachings. They wanted to destroy His influence amongst the people.

Who are the Pharisees in your life? Who are those who talk well about the Lord? They are not atheists – they speak about the Lord, but their motives are wrong? They will influence you to betray the Lord. We must know that there are people like this. They will talk nicely about the Lord and how good He is but their motive is to betray Him, their motive is to oppose that which the Lord is doing. They will not tell you that but their goal is to remove you from where the Lord is working.

You may turn in your Bible to Jude. If you have a chance read the whole of Jude. It is only one chapter.

For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ. Jude 1:4

You do not need to be so strict when living under revival. God’s grace covers what you have done wrong. The church that I grew up in taught that every person was God’s child, some were just His naughty children. Therefore, the church allowed you to do whatever you wanted to because God’s grace would cover it all. We do not want to lose what God has shown us through the revival. We cannot afford to lose it. But there are some people who will tell you that you no longer need to do that anymore. They are Pharisees and they will crucify our Lord. If you follow them, you will lose what God has given us. You say that you want to win these people, yes, if the Lord instructs you to do that, I agree.

12 These are hidden reefs at your love feasts, as they feast with you without fear, shepherds feeding themselves; waterless clouds, swept along by winds; fruitless trees in late autumn, twice dead, uprooted; Jude 1:12

They will be spiritual. They will talk about the Lord, but it will shipwreck you. It will take you off course, put you on the rocks, and break your ship. You will lose your purpose. The Bible warns us about people like that. They will talk about the Lord’s love and be spiritual, but they will shipwreck you. If the Lord sends you to someone, be obedient. But if it comes from yourself, be careful. Who are the Pharisees and Sadducees in your life that will take you from that which God has shown you? We should not be surprised if Christians attack us.

But it is usual for apostates from religion to be the most bitter enemies to it… Matthew Henry lived in the 1600s to the early 1700s and he refers to Judas as an example of someone who was with the Lord and then betrayed Him. It should not surprise us therefore that Christians are the bitterest enemies today. It happened then and it still happens today. We therefore need so much more discernment. The Lord must show us who is friend and who is enemy. Do not let it catch you off guard. Do not let it depress you. It has always been there. Christians will attack what we are doing.

The soldiers. They did not seem to know much about religion. They did not even know who Jesus was because Judas had to kiss Him to identify Him otherwise, they would not have known who to arrest. They may have not realised exactly what was happening. They were going about their everyday duties and yet they played their part in arresting Jesus.

There could non-spiritual things in our lives that have nothing to do with our religion that can pull us down, affect us spiritually and assist in betraying our Lord. I do not say that all earthly things are wrong. There are many things we use and enjoy but if that thing which you hold onto becomes the most important thing and it takes you away from the Lord then that very thing is causing your downfall. It could be many things: the books you read, the things you watch, the things you are busy with every day.  Do they draw you closer to the Lord or push you away from the Lord? It is easy to do something for hours that has no spiritual upliftment, and it can be a waste of time. We need spiritual upliftment. We need to be busy with things that will draw us closer to Him. It can be people you are with. They may be people who have no idea about the Lord and no interest in Him. These could be the soldiers in your life that pull you down.

The soldiers knew what they were going to do – to arrest someone. It is interesting that some Christians pretend that everything is fine but the world, the non-Christians, know what they are doing. The whole world knows what your Christian life is like because you are in contact with them. You show them. You follow them. You will know what I mean if you are busy with that. This can be your downfall.

The disciples. They were godly men who gave up everything to follow the Lord Jesus. They did it with all their hearts but somehow, they did not understand the full picture. When the Lord prayed, they fell asleep even though they were there with all their hearts. There was just a bit of discernment or to be awake, that was not there. They may not have realised the seriousness of it. They may not have realised what time it was. Somehow, they were not on the ball. We do know that once they realised what they had done, they repented and lived for the Lord.

Christian, we may not realise what time it is on God’s clock. I might be doing everything with all my heart, but there could be something I am missing. There may be issues that are addressed which I do not think are so important and I miss out on being spiritually on the station because I am not 100% awake. We need to pray for discernment, for wisdom and to be awake. We need to pray that we are on fire for the Lord so that we do not miss out. We need to pray that our eyes are open to that which is around us and our ears are open to that which the Lord is saying to us.

The Lord Jesus. He knew everything. He knew Judas’s heart. He knew his plans. He knew what was to come. He knew that He would be arrested. He knew that the disciples would scatter. He could have called 10 000 angels and they would have been there immediately. He who stood alone.

He calls him friend. If he had called him villain, and traitor, raca, thou fool, and child of the devil, he had not mis—called him; but he would teach us under the greatest provocation to forbear bitterness and evil-speaking, and to show all meekness. Matthew Henry

He asked, “Judas, what have you come for? Why do you do it like this? You could have arrested Me when I was in the temple. Judas, think about what you are doing.” You get the impression that the Lord Jesus, for the last time, tried to get Judas to think about what he was doing. He asked him questions to make him realise what he was doing. His disciples left Him. He was going to be slaughtered. He was betrayed by His friend, but He says, “My friend, think once again.” How differently we would have handled it had we been there. The Lord may be saying today, “Yes, you have betrayed Me. You have done all these things but just think again, think again about it all. There is still a chance. Do you not want to do this differently? Is this really what you want to do? Do you really want to continue in your wrong doing? Do you really want to die? Do you really want to end up where Judas ended? Do you want to burn in the fiery furnace for eternity?”

The Lord, like a lamb, went to be slaughtered for you and me. Are you taking up His offer? We have betrayed Him so often, but He gives us another chance.

Friends, let us not deny this offer and take it lightly. Let us stop betraying Him and live for Him. Let us live lives that please Him in everything that we do. He wants to give us the best. He wants to give us far greater than we can imagine. Let us not refuse His offer. We know the truth. We know what to do. We know what is in our lives that should not be there. Every person knows it. Why don’t you rid yourself of this burden?

Conclusion Albu van Eeden
There is one person who was not mentioned, whom we read about in Mark 14:51. He was a young man who thought he could be loyal to the Lord, but he followed at a distance. He covered himself with a linen cloth and followed in the shadows where he could not be seen. But he was seen. They tried to grab him, but he fled naked. If you try to follow Christ at a safe distance from Him and His disciples and those in the middle of the situation, the devil will get to you and make you flee naked.

Christ was crucified. Virtually all His disciples deserted Him. What happened afterwards? How did they handle their unfaithfulness? Some killed themselves. Some admitted that they had betrayed Him. Judas stayed away from the others and wanted nothing to do with them. He stayed away from the Lord Jesus. Peter, despite what he had done, returned to the other disciples. They all had to admit that they had deserted Him. Peter had a more difficult time. Because he had denied the Lord, he had to confess, break down and admit it before the Lord. What is the beautiful thing in all of this? A few days later they were all together, except for Judas.

Friend do not allow the devil to convince you to take your life. Do not allow the devil to convince you to stay away because there is no forgiveness for you. No matter how embarrassing it will be, return to the Lord and His disciples. Even if the Lord Jesus must ask you three times while poking His finger in the raw wound, “Do you love Me?” If it feels as if He is torturing you because He is pointing at you who denied Him, even if it is humiliating, return to Him and say, “Lord, I love you. You know that I love you.” Return and join those who follow Christ and who walk closely with Him. Do not sit alone and think about how you have betrayed God and look at the silver pieces you have. Satan will work on your mind because it is the ideal situation for him when you are alone. Do not give the devil that victory. Christ loved us. He did this for you and me. Come back to Him. Join those who follow Him so that Satan will not sit back and laugh because he has destroyed your life and calling, that calling which was so precious to you. When the disciples returned to God, He still used them to do much for His kingdom because there was forgiveness - whether you are a Peter who must do it in a difficult way or not.