Introduction Albu van Eeden
God has a purpose for each listener with what we are about to hear. For some, it will be a warning. For others it may equip them for trials and tests in the coming week. For some it may be a reprimand and God will tell us to make a u-turn. For others it may be oil on the wounds. For the hard and stubborn hearted it may be a hammer that crushes the rock-hard heart. For others, it may be an encouragement. For some it may be a confirmation from God that they are on the right way and should not fear. For others it may be a guide through a dark forest. God knows what it should mean for each one. He wants to give us all that we need today through the simple words of a man whom we pray the Lord will use.
I am reminded of the vision that Ms Lydia Dube had of the narrow way. God brought her to the edge of a forest where He left her and told her that He would wait for her on the other side. “I want to see whether you can go through this forest, make the right decisions and walk on the right way.” Before every step she took, she prayed for God’s guidance.
Through today’s service, the Lord may be wanting to tell you what the next step is that you should be taking.
We greet you, brethren, in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ. We thank the Lord so much for keeping us in the past days. We thank the Lord for this wonderful privilege that we have to meet around His word.
While the young people sang, my heart was moved. Young people, do you see your place in the youth choir? What are we doing with our faith? Are we being productive? Furniture that is not used collects dust. Used furniture is shiny because it is constantly in use. It is the same with a believer. If a believer is just happy to be a believer and he rests on his laurels, he will never grow spiritually. A believer who is actively involved in the church, through speech, deeds and other services rendered, will grow and make spiritual progress.
You will notice a sluggard - even in their gait. The way in which they carry their school bag shows that they are sluggards. On their way to school in the morning, you notice them walking with their bags and you think that if they behave like this already in the morning, what will they be like at 10h00? I challenge the young people not to become rusty. There are young people who stand in front of the church and say that the Lord Jesus has helped them and they want to help others. (Singing in the church does not mean that you have overcome all temptations and sin, but should it happen that you slip and fall into temptation, bring it into the light, receive prayer and do not wallow in your sin.)
If you are spiritually lazy, when an evil thought enters your mind, you entertain it and then say that you will not make it right today but tomorrow. Some people have lost all consciousness of sin, whether they sin or not, it is all the same. Do we really know the exhilaration of running with the Gospel, young people?
43 And immediately, while he was still speaking, Judas came, one of the twelve, and with him a crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests and the scribes and the elders. 44 Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, “The one I will kiss is the man. Seize him and lead him away under guard.” Mark 14: 43 – 44
Judas was one of the 12. The disciples, together with Jesus, were like a family unit living together. Jesus was leading them. Judas had an elevated position as the purse bearer. We do not read that the others were envious of Judas’ position. Jesus and the other disciples had to request money from Judas if they needed something.
I do not know when it happened that the wonderful family fellowship was no longer wonderful for Judas anymore. I do not know how it happened that Judas saw himself as so important that he could take the authority on himself to pay for things he had not been authorised to do.
Thank God for the wisdom and knowledge that Jesus had. He knew beforehand that there was a betrayer in their midst. In the verses prior to this, Jesus tried to help Judas and point out to him that He was aware of what Judas was doing.
Jesus tried to open their eyes so that the disciples would not feel that Jesus mistrusted them. He told them openly that the one who dipped his bread together with Him would betray Him. Judas, however, still did not come to his senses. My heart aches to think that in front of them Judas said that he was one with them and part of the family, but then he went behind their backs and betrayed them. He stabbed them in the back. I do not know why it never dawned on Judas that Jesus was aware of his plans to give him over to the enemy. Jesus may have spoken to you and warned you about something you are busy with that He did not call you to do. Judas painted Jesus pitch black before the enemy. They must have thought He was one of the worst criminals on the earth because they came with swords and clubs to fight with someone who never fought.
Jesus knew that Judas was busy with something that He and His disciples were not busy with. Look at the plans Judas made with the enemy: 44 Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, “The one I will kiss is the man. Seize him and lead him away under guard.” Mark 14:44 When he came to Jesus, he kissed Him and Jesus said, “Judas, will you betray the Son of Man with a kiss?” Why did Judas not come to his senses then? He pretended that Jesus was his bosom friend, but he was selling Him to the enemy.
Even if you have come dressed up for the Sunday service, Jesus knows your heart. He knows that you sold it long ago. Your outward form looks as if you are like Him, but you are not.
Jesus even knew about the amount of money that Judas had received to betray Him. Jesus knows that you have betrayed Him through your slander, that is the price that you get. Jesus knows you have sold him through your criticism. You may not have said a word yet, but it is in your heart. You are criticising those around you. Jesus knows your thoughts.
You rate the preachers: this one is fine, that one is not so good. You are no longer one with God’s family. You have started your own way of doing things. The devil can enter your mind and heart while the preacher is preaching. You rate or correct. “I agree with that, but not with that.” What was it like when you had just come to Christ, when you were on fire and had that first love?
Judas’ deed separated him from this wonderful family of the Lord and from the Lord Jesus Himself. His deed put him outside and he was cursed.
Jesus longs to have fellowship with you but are you willing to have that close bond of fellowship with Jesus? Young girl, Jesus wants you to be part of this family, to have fellowship and unity with His family. Are you ready for that? You sell your first-born right, that which Jesus wanted to give you - your inheritance, just for that boy whose pants are almost falling off. You are drawn to that. You might be the oldest girl in your family and you are precious to them, but then you go somewhere and you are enticed by a slab of chocolate that someone gives you and you sell your birth right. You sell the love of your parents for a flirtation that lasts a short while. How often don’t we sell the treasure that God has given to us? God has given you wonderful parents who love, nurture you and treasure you but then the devil says they are too strict, that they discipline you too harshly. What is the result of your freedom?
It may not have been your friends who have deceived you but a preacher of the Gospel who has deceived you by telling you that you are under a yoke, a bondage and you must be liberated. Yes, Jesus did come to set us free from sin - but He did not set us free so that we can commit sin. As a mother in the church, you were a respectful woman, and you were taught by the Lord how to conduct yourself, but other ladies come and say that they have been set free and that you too must also be set free, sell what you have and take on what they have. You become like a prostitute. Now your husband must look at you and say, “The person I married was not like this person.” You have sold off your treasure and fetched something that is a curse.
A young man is deceived by that message of freedom, just be a man and take one puff of that dagga, then you do it and become an addict. You consider yourself free, you can even plant marijuana. This is a sly trick that you can now make medicine from cannabis. We have never needed it but now you are told you are free to plant dagga and you will become rich. Allow me to tell you that you will soon reap a bitter harvest from the marijuana you have planted and just begun harvesting.
Judas was promised money, yes, but there are two sides of the coin. When he was told this, he was not told that together with the money, he would lose his peace and finally commit suicide. Yes, there are promises of prosperity, you will be free, plant as much as you like, you will prosper, but you are not told that after that freedom there will be children who will have to be fed, there will be woonga and addictions – all sorts of things you did not reckon with in the beginning. Judas was one of the 12, but he wanted to be free. He wanted to taste something different and, in the end, he tasted death.
The song says:
Don't lose your vision of Jesus, Keep your eyes ever on Him;
Many friends and dear loved ones, Have lost their way,
They have lost their vision of Him.
Many have lost their vision of the very one they say they follow. But may God help us that we will not remove our eyes off Him.
14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. Matthew 5:14 – 16
This was part of the Lord’s Sermon on the Mount. My closing words are from verse 16: In the same way, let your light shine before others…There are some whose faith relies on those who go before them. There are those who follow when their leaders are strong. They gain courage to be strong. Jesus said to His disciples, “You are the light of the world. You are a city set on a hill that cannot be hidden.” (Judas was amongst them when He said that to them.) People look up to you because you are the light. You are like a city set on a hill that cannot be hidden. It is dark all around, but people look at that city with hope in their hearts. Judas was amongst those 12 to whom it was said you are the light of the world.
As Judas was numbered among them and then parted from them, how did people view them? Did they see them as the light? I think that the light was dimmed. If suddenly your light goes out, those who are looking get confused. If your light is not constant, but shines and then goes out, shines and goes out, those who look, those who need encouragement say that if things go like that with those people, what about us?
At home there was a light bulb that began flickering. It flashed on and off. Eventually I had had enough of it. The light was not doing a proper job, it was no longer fulfilling the purpose for which it was there. This taught me a spiritual lesson. People watch us. If we are like this light bulb, they get fed up and want nothing to do with the Gospel.
Jesus knows us intimately. He knows where we stand spiritually, as with Judas. He tried to prepare His disciples beforehand. Jesus is coming back. He knows where we are when He comes back. He has warned us beforehand.
At that Last Supper, Jesus gave the last warning. He knew what was coming. Jesus could have prevented Judas from betraying him, but He went through it all. It is a lesson to modern Judases - as to what their outcome will be. Jesus is like a patient parent, warning us, “Don’t do that. Don’t touch there, you will get hurt.” Eventually the child does not listen, and he touches the stove and gets burnt. He will never do that again. Jesus warns us. If we do not want to hear, we will have to feel. Because of the child’s disobedience, the child has to feel. He gets burned. We should not be like that disobedient child. Destroy those idols in your life: your cell phone, your friends – listen to the Lord.
Judas no longer had the opportunity to repent from his disobedience. He committed suicide. You do not know what your end will be like. The Lord warns you. It may be that you also end your life through suicide and enter hell in that way.
Judas was somebody the Lord cared for. He tried to help him where He could, like you would help a child. Judas’ reaction was that he grew harder because he was offended. He knew exactly what was right and wrong, just like you know. He was upset. When the Lord spoke about these things, he understood but got upset. You look like you belong to the family, you attend church, you do everything, but you are furniture that is dusty and rusty. Your heart is not here. When the Lord speaks to you, you do not like it. When the Lord sends somebody to you, you do not like it.
The devil put the thought into Judas’ mind. If you open yourself to sin, the devil will put thoughts into your heart and you may wonder why this is happening. Be very careful. If you open the door, the devil will enter and speak to you, and you will think it is an angel of light.
May we take seriously what the Lord says, humble ourselves and do what He says.