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The Betrayal of Judas & the Perseverance of the Saints

Halim Suh    /    Oct 27, 2013

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Halim Suh teaches on the betrayal of Judas & perseverance of the saints using Mark 14:10-31

Series: The Gospel of Mark

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Sermon Transcript

In this passage Jesus predicts Judas’ betrayal and that the rest of His disciples are going to fall away. 

 

This is unbelievable. Through out the course of history, if there is anybody who has been discipled, taught, cared for and loved on properly, it was the twelve disciples. Jesus absolutely poured out His life onto these twelve men for three years.

 

So if the twelve got Jesus in the flesh everyday and their result was betrayal and falling away, then what is our hope? How do we know we’re going to persevere to the end? You may be successfully fighting sin and temptation now, but will it eventually wear you down until little by little you give yourself over to the promises the world has for you?

 

Jesus said in the end the love of many will grow cold, but the one who endures to the end will be saved. 

 

Will you endure? Will you persevere? Will you be saying with your last breath:

 

Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. 26 My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. Psalm 73:25-26 (ESV)

 

Some of us are thinking we will persevere; we love Jesus. Then, others of us feel the fear and doubt if we’ll make it to the end, but not wanting to go to hell.

 

These are the two extreme responses in assessing and contemplating our perseverance:

 

I’m going to make it; I love Jesus.

 

This is my bent. In my weak moments, I have a tendency to treat sin lightly and assume upon God’s grace.

 

I don’t know if I’m going to make it, I fear it everyday. I wonder how in the world God is going to forgive my sin.

 

This is my wife’s bent. She’ll fail and sin in some way and in her weak moments she’ll struggle, wondering if she’s even saved at all.

 

Both are wrong. These responses show that we’re lacking in something. 

 

The first response reveals a lack in understanding of our own sinfulness. We don’t quite understand how deep the veins of sin run in our hearts or how deceitful and dark sin is.

 

The second response reveals a lack in understanding of God’s faithfulness. We don’t quite get the finality of what Jesus did on the cross and the great love with which He loves us.

 

In today’s text, Jesus reveals two truths in response:

 

We are more sinful than we can ever imagine.

 

BUT…

 

God is more faithful than we ever dare dream.

 

OUR SINFULNESS

 

This passage is set in Jesus’ last week of life. He was going to be betrayed. The chief priests and scribes, those on the outside, were plotting to kill Jesus. However, someone on the inside, Judas, was also plotting to betray Him. All of this was happening during Israel’s national holiday Passover. 

 

Once a year they would eat the Passover meal to celebrate the greatness of God in rescuing them out of Egypt so many years ago. It was a time of great celebration and joy. All were remembering how God overthrew the most powerful empire the world had known at the time to bring His chosen people out. He rescued them from sin and bondage.

 

17 And when it was evening, he came with the twelve. 18 And as they were reclining at table and eating, Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me, one who is eating with me.” 19 They began to be sorrowful and to say to him one after another, “Is it I?” 20 He said to them, “It is one of the twelve, one who is dipping bread into the dish with me. 21 For the Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that man if he had not been born.” Mark 14:17-21 (ESV)

 

Everyone was celebrating and having a good time. Then seemingly out of nowhere Jesus said one of them was going to betray Him and it would have been better if that person hadn’t even been born. There goes the party.

 

Jesus didn’t care that He had just ruined the party. He knew sin not dealt with would ruin their eternity. Jesus doesn’t remain quiet about your sin either. He takes it very seriously. He knows the only way we’re going to persevere is if we have an intimate knowledge of our own sinfulness.

 

If there was ever a time not to talk about sin, it would have been this time. It was Jesus’ last supper with His friends. It was also a time of celebrating. If there was ever a time to just let sin go, it was this time. But He didn’t leave it alone or remain quiet about their sin.

 

18 And as they were reclining at table and eating, Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me, one who is eating with me.” Mark 14:18 (ESV, emphasis added) 

 

20 He said to them, “It is one of the twelve, one who is dipping bread into the dish with me. Mark 14:20 (ESV, emphasis added)

 

If the whole point was to simply bring out Judas’ sin, Jesus could have said, “One of you is going to betray me and it’s you Judas.” Instead, He kept saying, “One of you.”

 

Jesus was purposefully being ambiguous. He wanted each of them to consider that it could be them. By saying, “one of the twelve,” he was ruling out those on the outside. If He had said somebody without saying one of the twelve, His disciples would have responded by saying, “What do you mean? We know hundreds of people who want to betray you Jesus.” 

 

When it comes to sin, we have to see ourselves as the main culprit. We can’t think about sin as something that’s done out there by those other people. But we have to see it as something done within ourhearts by us. We can’t exclude ourselves from the community of sinners. We can’t ever get to a place where we say, “I could never do that.” 

 

Who is the biggest sinner you know, who comes to mind? Who is the person that has the most potential to sell Jesus away to get something else? Is it someone else out there; some college friend who parties all the time or a neighbor who just got caught cheating on their spouse or a parent who lashes out at their children in anger? 

 

Jesus wants us to think about ourselves when we’re thinking about the greatest sinner with the most potential to sell Him away. He wants us to ask, “Is it me Lord? Could I be the one that trades you away?”

 

19 They began to be sorrowful and to say to him one after another, “Is it I?” Mark 14:19 (ESV)

 

By saying, “one of the twelve,” He had produced exactly what He wanted: a personal, individual self-examination of the possibility of them being the one who would betray Him. 

 

Jesus is inviting us to ask the same question. 

 

If you’re thinking, “I love Jesus. I would do anything for Him. Sure, I sin just like everybody else, but I could never do what Judas did,” this text is for you. It isn’t for people on the outside who feel far away from Jesus. It’s for people on the inside, who are closest and most committed to Jesus. 

 

Jesus wanted the gravest of sins to be considered by those closest to Him. 

 

Tim Keller said: 

 

“When it comes to the understanding of our sinfulness, it’s not enough to just ask what have I done, but also what am I capable of doing... if I was under certain threats, certain temptations, certain pressures, and certain opportunities... could I produce great evil under certain circumstances which I haven’t experienced yet... and the bible says, yes...”

 

When it comes to contemplating our sinfulness, we can’t just look at the bad things we’ve done, but also at the bad things we’re capable of. You may never betray Jesus, but you have to at least understand, apart from God’s grace, under certain circumstances and pressures, you’re at least capable of it. 

 

We can’t ever underestimate the power and deceitfulness of our own flesh. We are all more sinful than we could ever imagine.

 

HIS FAITHFULNESS

 

Knowing our sinfulness is absolutely critical to persevere to the end, but if we just know our sinfulness alone, we’ll downward spiral into hopelessness, despair and shame. Something else has to also be revealed to us.

 

In the midst of the sins Jesus has just revealed in the disciples and in us, Jesus provides the solution.

 

22 And as they were eating, he took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to them, and said, “Take; this is my body.” 23 And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, and they all drank of it.24 And he said to them, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many. 25 Truly, I say to you, I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.” Mark 14:22-25 (ESV)

 

The solution is God’s faithfulness.

 

We were sinners, but Christ died for us. Do you feel the awe of that solution or has the death of Jesus somehow lost its preciousness? Has the cross of Jesus just become common?

 

In verse 21, Jesus referred to Himself as the Son of Man. The Son of Man was an Old Testament title.

 

13 “I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him. 14 And to him was given dominion
and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages
should serve him; 
his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, 
and his kingdom one
that shall not be destroyed. Daniel 7:13-14 (ESV)

 

The Son of Man was not betrayed, beaten, spit upon, hung on a cross like a common criminal. However, when looking at the Old Testament you also see something else; you see a lamb that was slain. The people of God would sacrifice a lamb, which would act as a substitute for the death they deserved because they sinned against God. The people would put the blood of the lamb on their doorposts so when the Angel of Death would come, he would see the blood, pass over their homes and not kill them. He saw the substitution of the lamb.

 

So when Jesus says, “I’m the Son of Man, but here’s my body broken for you and my blood poured out for you,” He was showing that He was willing to become the Lamb of God, which was the only possible pathway for us being saved. If He were unwilling to do this, there would be no salvation for us, much less perseverance.

 

The Son of Man condescending Himself to become the lamb is where we see God’s ultimate act of faithfulness to us. 

 

If we’re going to endure and persevere to the end, we have to see that our God is faithful. 

 

THE BOTH/AND APPLICATION

 

If we just saw that we are sinful, we wouldn’t persevere. We would just downward spiral into hopelessness. But, if we just see that God is faithful, we won’t persevere either. We will treat sin lightly and take grace as common, trampling on the blood of Jesus poured out for us.

 

We have to understand both. We are more sinful than we could ever imagine, but God is more faithful than we ever dare dream.

 

It’s only then that we’ll persevere to the end. 

 

Is our application to say, “Jesus, thank you for your faithfulness, even in the midst of my own sinfulness. I’m going to commit my life to you. I’m going to so devote myself to you that I’ll never fall away from you?’

 

Many of us are living this application. Many of us are thinking that because of what He’s done for us, we’re going to do this for Him. This was Peter’s application.

 

26 And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. 27 And Jesus said to them, “You will all fall away, for it is written, ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.’ 28 But after I am raised up, I will go before you to Galilee.” 29 Peter said to him, “Even though they all fall away, I will not.” 30 And Jesus said to him, “Truly, I tell you, this very night, before the rooster crows twice, you will deny me three times.”31 But he said emphatically, “If I must die with you, I will not deny you.” And they all said the same. Mark 14:26-31 (ESV)

 

It’s clear Peter has grown in his understanding of Jesus. Peter is not the man he used to be. The first time Jesus told Peter He was going to die on the cross, Peter rebuked Him. However, Peter doesn’t rebuke Jesus here, but says, “even if I have to die with you, I will never leave you.” Peter is not the man he used to be, but nor is he the man he ought to be.

 

He’s placing his confidence in persevering in his own ability not to fall away. He’s not placing His confidence in Jesus’ ability to keep him.

 

Jesus knows Peter and the rest of His disciples will fall away. Yet He tells them He will meet them again after He is raised.

 

Isn’t abandoning Jesus, at the height of His suffering and pain, a grave sin? Shouldn’t He at least say they’re going to leave Him when He needs them most, so when He’s raised from the dead, He better hear a lot of apologies and remorse? 

 

Yet He simply tells them they’ll fall away, but after He’s raised He will come for them.

 

There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 

 

The key is, “after I am raised.” He just died on the cross, paying the full penalty of sin against them. He drank the full cup of God’s wrath against them. There was no condemnation left over for them. 

 

Many of us sin and we think Jesus could never forgive us. Yet, Jesus knew that those closest to Him would gravely sin, but still decided to go to the cross for us. He knew every single sin that would be committed against Him, but He still went to the cross.

 

Many of you have changed since you’ve become a believer in Christ. But you can’t place the hope of your perseverance on the fact that you’re just a better person now. You will fall again, just in new ways.

 

Every time we sin, we see that we’re greater sinners than we ever imagined.

 

But God knew when you prayed you would never do it again that you would. Yet He still went to the cross. As He comes to us, over and over again, as we continue to sin, we realize God is more faithful than we ever dare dream. You don’t have to live in fear of not persevering or making it. God is faithful.

 

There is a way for us to be confident and sure that we’re going to make it to the end. It’s not found in our ability to never fall away, but in His ability to come to you over and over again to keep you.

 

24 Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, 25 to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen. Jude 1:24-25 (ESV)