The Villain – a dupe of the Devil

judas.jpgHe was our “Judas goat,” affectionately named for his job at the Scott Sheep Company. When I was a little boy I had to deal with that big billy goat that strutted proudly around Dad’s stockyard. He would lower his head and chase me onto the fence, mostly I think just because he could. But his main function was to lead the fattened sheep onto the rail cars that took them to the place that turned them into lamb chops! Sheep followed him up the ramp and into the stock car. He then circled back to the doorway, down the loading dock, and back to his pen, where he enjoyed a nice meal and they were carried off to die. Hence his name, “Judas goat.”

The tragic figure in the story of Holy Week is the disciple, Judas. Jesus was in Jerusalem for Passover.  His conflict with the religious leaders was escalating. In the middle of it all, Judas decided to collaborate with Jesus’ enemies and in that oh so sad story of betrayal, sold Him for 30 pieces of silver.

Luke says, “The Festival of Unleavened Bread, which begins with the Passover celebration, was drawing near. The leading priests and teachers of religious law were actively plotting Jesus’ murder. But they wanted to kill him without starting a riot, a possibility they greatly feared. Then Satan entered into Judas Iscariot, who was one of the twelve disciples, and he went over to the leading priests and captains of the Temple guard to discuss the best way to betray Jesus to them. They were delighted that he was ready to help them, and they promised him a reward.” (Luke 22:1-5, NLT)

The Gospels of Luke and John both tell us that Judas was used by the Devil. So how did Judas open himself to the devil’s influence?
Was he motivated by greed?
Was he jealous of John or Peter?
Did he lust for power?

We just do not  know. What we do know is that Jesus called him. He was not a double agent, planted by the Sanhedrin. But, he started to think thoughts unworthy of his calling. As keeper of the disciples’ money, did he ‘borrow’ a little for his own use?  Did he grow bitter when he started to understand that Jesus was not going to start a revolution?  Was he disappointed that he was not included in the Lord’s inner circle?  What filled his mind is lost to history, but we know that his heart turned! The Devil took advantage of his duplicity. Judas sold Jesus for a slave’s price. Like so many who have followed him, only too late did he realize that the evil one had played him. His shame and regret consumed him.

Many walk Judas’ path.  Those they sit among Jesus’ disciples, often serving, they hold back a part of themselves.  They walk among the flock of God until the day that the Deceiver steps through the door they have left open.  Their selfishness and sinfulness bring division and confusion to the flock of God. Tragically, only after the damage is done do they see the error, the sin.  My prayer for those deceived and used by Satan is not destruction like Judas. I hope for their restoration like Peter! Judas could not let go of himself to seek forgiveness and he took his life, consumed with shame. Peter, who failed too, wept bitter tears and found a place of grace, going on to lead the Church.

James warns about living without the anchor of conviction, “adrift at sea, keeping all your options open. ” (James 1:8, The Message)  His counsel? “Say a quiet yes to God and he’ll be there in no time. Quit dabbling in sin. Purify your inner life. Quit playing the field.” (James 4:8, The Message)

Proverbs offers this insight – “The integrity of the upright guides them, but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity.” (Proverbs 11:3, NIV)   The person who gives himself to the Lord, without reservation and remains tender in His presence, is kept by the Spirit from the wiles of the deceiver.   When evil comes seeking an entrance, that person has no secret sin waiting to be exploited, no cracks in his heart that offer access to greater sin.

As we make our way through this Holy Week, let’s take this word from the Word:
“Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.”

The result?  The very opposite of Judas!  We will never betray Him.
We will exalt Him with praise!  David continues his song.

“Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will turn back to you.
Save me from bloodguilt, O God, the God who saves me,
and my tongue will sing of your righteousness.
O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise.” (Psalm 51:9-15, NIV)

______________

One Pure And Holy Passion

Give me one pure and holy passion
Give me one magnificent obsession
Jesus give me one glorious ambition for my life
To know and follow hard after You

To know and follow hard after You
To grow as Your disciple in the truth
This world is empty pale and poor
Compared to knowing You my Lord
Lead me on and I will run after You

Lead me on and I will run after You
Lead me on and I will run after You

Mark Altrogge © 1988 Dayspring Music, LLC (a div. of Word Music Group, Inc.) Sovereign Grace Praise (Admin. by Word Music Group, Inc.)

CCLI License # 810055

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