The Savior Who Was Betrayed

Steve Viars March 3, 2007 John 18:2-11

 

- This is a quiet public park in the state of Virginia

- On February 18, 2001, an American citizen left a package under this wooden footbridge...

- as it turns out, the package wasn’t just left for anyone...it was left for intelligence agents from the Soviet Union...and it was filled with highly classified information about our nation’s security which could only be known by people at the highest levels of our government...

- that became the undoing of this man...

-- this is Robert Hanssen, who to his family, neighbors and colleagues, was a quiet family man who had an exemplary 25 year career with the FBI...

- he was a key player in the agency and had spent most of his career in counterintelligence operations designed to catch spies...most recently at the State Department...

- What nobody knew was that Hanssen was also working for the Soviets, systematically feeding them information in exchange for 1.4 million dollars worth of cash and jewels...

- investigators believe that Hanssen compromised dozens of Soviet personnel who were working in the United States, some of whom were later executed...

- News reports said...The affidavit alleges that on over 20 separate occasions, Hanssen clandestinely left packages for the KGB, and its successor agency, the SVR, at dead drop sites in the Washington area. He also provided over two dozen computer diskettes containing additional disclosures of information. Overall, Hanssen gave the KGB/SVR more than 6,000 pages of valuable documentary material, according to the affidavit.  The affidavit alleges that Hanssen compromised numerous human sources of the U.S. Intelligence Community, dozens of classified U.S. Government documents, including "Top Secret" and "codeword" documents, and technical operations of extraordinary importance and value. It also alleges that Hanssen compromised FBI counterintelligence investigative techniques, sources, methods and operations, and disclosed to the KGB the FBI's secret investigation of Felix Bloch, a foreign service officer, for espionage.

- imagine doing that to your own country...

- repeatedly the news reports used the word “betrayal” to describe Hanssen’s actions...

- the President said from Air Force One – This is a difficult day for those who love our country...He spoke of Hanssen as someone who betrayed our nation’s trust...

- Then FBI Director Louis Freeh said...A betrayal of trust by an FBI Agent, who is not only sworn to enforce the law but specifically to help protect our nation's security, is particularly abhorrent. This kind of criminal conduct represents the most traitorous action imaginable against a country governed by the Rule of Law. It also strikes at the heart of everything the FBI represents -- the commitment of over 28,000 honest and dedicated men and women in the FBI who work diligently to earn the trust and confidence of the American people every day."

- by the way, this is where that kind of betrayal gets you...

- can you think of anything worse than betraying your country?...

- how about...betraying your Lord?...

- surely nobody would ever do that...actually, that is exactly what ones of Christ’s closest followers did...and today we’d like to study his story...

- with that in mind, would you open your Bible to John chapter 10...[page 80 of the back section under the chair in front of you...]

- our theme this year is Reaching New Heights...

- we’re trying to do everything we can as a church to be best prepared to serve the Lord as we launch our community center, and church based seminary, and residential treatment center for at risk girls...

- in the first 2 months we’ve been working on the spiritual disciplines...

- so we talked about...

- Reaching New Heights in our Faithfulness to Pray

- Reaching New Heights in our Commitment to Scripture

- our ability to be in a position to ask the Lord to bless our efforts assumes that we are, as Paul said in I Timothy 4:7, disciplining ourselves for the purpose of godliness...

- you don’t reach new heights from a rocking chair...

- the Christian life involves effort, discipline, work...[not only that, but certainly that...]

- now, as we enter the month of March, we are switching our attention...believe it or not, 5 weeks from now is Easter Sunday...

- so for the next 6 Sundays, we want to study John 18-21 thinking about Reaching New Heights in our Love for the Savior...

- I don’t think I can overemphasize the importance of this particular section of our study...

- part of the essence of our faith is that Christianity is a dynamic, personal relationship with a living Savior...

- so prayer is important, but it is not an end in itself...

- we love the Scriptures, but not as an end in itself...

- we want our lives to be increasingly Christ-centered...where we are knowing Him and making Him known.

- now, when we come to the gospels, for many of us it is like coming home...

- as I said, we love all of the Word of God, but when we are reading about and studying the words and works of Christ...that is especially delightful...

- because Jesus was such a compelling Person whose life and message surprises us at practically every turn...

- and so often we find ourselves saying...we are so glad we have a Lord and Savior like that...

‑ we’re going to begin this series right after Jesus and his disciples have left the upper room...

- John 18:1 tells us that the Lord leads 11 of his disciples to “the ravine of the Kidron, where there was a garden”...

- when we compare this with the other gospels, we learn that this is the Garden of Gethsemane...which means “oil press”...where something precious is extracted from something else being crushed...

- the other gospels tell us that at this point Jesus leaves 8 of the disciples and takes Peter, James, and John his closest companions and instructs them to pray so that they will not enter into temptation...

- He went a little further and prayed and the Scripture tells us that...Luke 22:44 - And being in agony He was praying very fervently; and His sweat became like drops of blood, falling down upon the ground.

- Matthew adds the details that Jesus returned and found his disciples sleeping...and He expressed His surprise that they couldn’t even keep watch for one hour...and He told them, keep watching and praying...that you won’t enter into temptation, because the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak [Matt. 26:41]...

- He went away and prayed to the Father again and came back and sure enough the disciples were sleeping again...so He let them sleep...the explanation of Scripture is interesting, it just says that their eyes were heavy, so He left them and went and prayed a third time and them came back and woke them saying...

- Matthew 26:45-46 - ...Behold, the hour is at hand and the Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of sinners. Get up, let us be going; behold, the one who betrays Me is at hand!

- that brings us to John 18:2 – read 18:2-11

- this morning we’re talking about The Savior Who Was Betrayed.

- what can we learn about reaching new heights, and about loving our Lord, through examining the unbelievable story of Judas Iscariot?

- in the time we have remaining, let’s look for 3 lessons from our Savior’s betrayal.

- it starts here...

I. Betraying Christ is a Treacherous Thing to Do.

- as appalled as we may be at a story like Robert Hanssen...

- that pales in comparison to the story of Judas...you have trouble coming up with words strong enough to describe it...

A. Note the hypocrisy.

- the other gospels add the shocking detail that Judas actually betrayed Christ with a kiss...

- and Luke actually records that Jesus asks Judas...Luke 22:48 - But Jesus said to him, “Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?”

- how despicable is that?...

- in that culture...you would kiss a teacher that you highly respected and followed...or kiss a close family member or friend...someone you loved...

- and when you think of all the other ways he could have identified Christ...

- I’ll point to Him...I’ll go speak to Him first...I’ll tell you what He’s wearing...anything but betraying the Master with a kiss...

- now, if you are new to studying the Bible, you might not know why Judas did this...the motivation was money...

B. Note the motivation

Matthew 26:14-15 - Then one of the twelve, named Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, “What are you willing to give me to betray Him to you?” And they weighed out thirty pieces of silver to him.

- Judas was willing to betray Jesus for money...because that was what he really loved in His heart...

- there were signs of this a few days earlier...

- do you remember just before the triumphal entry, 6 days before the Passover, that Jesus and his disciples enjoyed a meal at the home of Lazarus and his sisters Mary and Martha...

- and the Scripture tells us that Mary took out a pound of expensive ointment and began anointing Christ’s feet and washing them with her hair...an act of incredible devotion and love...

- and one of Jesus’ disciples spoke up and actually criticized her for this...do you remember who it was?...

- John 12:4-5 - But Judas Iscariot, one of His disciples, ...said, Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and given to poor people?

- and you’re tempted to think, well, at least he cared about the poor...until you read the next verse...

- John 12:6 – Now he said this, not because he was concerned about the poor, but because he was a thief, and as he had the money box, he used to pilfer what was put into it.

- see, he was the treasurer for the group...he was a thief...he stole from his friends, and He was even willing to betray Christ to get his grubby hands on more money...

- even the amount is important...Bible students know about 30 pieces of silver...because that is the amount that was specified in the OT that had to be paid if your ox gored somebody else’s slave...

- and that’s a story in and of itself...but the point is, a gored slave was worth 30 pieces of silver in the OT economy...in other words, a relatively small amount of money...

- that same price comes up in the OT book of Zechariah...one of those prophecies that just takes your breath away...because God is trying to help His people understand how little value they have assigned to their relationship with Him...

- Zechariah 11:12-13 - I said to them, “If it is good in your sight, give me my wages; but if not, never mind!” So they weighed out thirty shekels of silver as my wages. Then the Lord said to me, “Throw it to the potter, that magnificent price at which I was valued by them.” So I took the thirty shekels of silver and threw them to the potter in the house of the Lord.

- they didn’t even care about Him as much as they did the value of a slave gored by an ox...

C. Note the unbelief.

- Judas would have never done this if He really believed the message of Christ...

- and what is amazing is...Judas had walked with the Lord...He had seen the miracles...

- what good did he think a few dozen soldiers were going to do?...

- and Jesus demonstrated His power for them yet again when they said that they were seeking Jesus of Nazareth and He responded “I am”...a clear declaration of deity...and what happened next?...

- they fell on the ground...

- and one of my favorite theology professors in seminary John Whitcomb used to say...and then you read one of the most foolish events in all of human history...they got up!...

- but it should chill us to the core of our bones to think about a person who actually walked with Christ, and talked with Christ, and in person heard the words of Christ and saw first-hand His works...and then when the opportunity arose...betrayed Him...

- now, as hard as it is to face this...we have to make this statement...

- there’s a little bit of Judas in all of us...

- in the sense that our faithfulness and loyalty to Christ is not always what it should be...

- sin, at its very essence, is betrayal of the Master we say we love...

- and if we’re going to reach new heights...then we have to let this part of the story have the sobering effect it is intended to have...

- see, there are people who will be in our services today, and there are undeniable and repeated instances of hypocrisy...

- for others, there is clear evidence that they love money more than they love Christ...

- or clear evidence of unbelief...

- and my saying that is not intended to tear someone up and leave them there...

- it is intended to help us use the horror of this betrayal to see sin for what it really is...

- and if necessary, to draw men and women to repentance, forgiveness, and commitment to change...

- and for all of us to say---Lord, please help me to grow in my faithfulness to you...may I recognize steps on the Judas trail quickly and turn and go the other way...

- now, thankfully, there is another entirely different side of this story...

- because we will also have people in our services today, perhaps many, who have been betrayed...

- people have lied to you...they have misled you...they have failed you...

- that’s clearly what happened to the Lord...but what’s the second lesson?

II. It is Possible to be Betrayed and Respond in a Godly Fashion.

- that is why understanding the context of this story makes all of this so amazing...

- Jesus had just asked His closest friends to pray with Him and for Him and for themselves...but they failed...and the principle is...

A. He did not make His faithfulness contingent on somebody else’s faithfulness.

- sometimes people play the “as soon as the other person does” game...

- as soon as my husband does right, then I’ll do right...

- as soon as my wife pleases God, then I’ll please God...

- when my kids learn to behave, I’ll work on my temper...

- as soon as my friends treat me properly, I’ll stop gossiping about them...

- and it becomes this endless cycle of blame instead of standing up and pleasing God even if you feel like others have failed you, and disappointed you, or betrayed you...

- there is incredible power in forgiveness...and incredible freedom in focusing on your responsibilities instead of other people’s failures...

- and someone who didn’t know Scripture might say...well, maybe Jesus was going to wait until there was a better opportunity to get them back...

- maybe he believed in the “I don’t get mad I just get even approach...”...

- that would miss an essential lesson in this text...

- why did Jesus repeatedly say, whom do you seek?...

- the answer is, to establish the fact that there was no reason for them to harm His friends...

- and isn’t that exactly the point is verse 8?...

- John 18:8 - Jesus answered, “I told you that I am He; so if you seek Me, let these go their way,”

B. You can choose to honor the Father even in the midst of being betrayed.

- Can you imagine the pain of this betrayal?...

- in the context of his other followers not even praying with Him for an hour...

- but right in the middle of all of that...He’s not thinking about His pain...His loss...His rights...His revenge...

- He’s thinking about the protection of His friends...

- and, according to v. 9, His commitment to keeping His Word...

- and friends, there is power to living like this...

- much more power than just stewing in bitterness...

- much more power than returning in kind...

- much more power than seeking revenge...

- even when others in your life are disappointing you, or even betraying you...you can choose to honor the Father...

- now you might say, humanly speaking, how did Jesus do this?...

- do you know that the Scripture answers that question?...

- 1 Peter 2:21-25 - For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps,  who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth;  and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously;  and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed.  For you were continually straying like sheep, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls.

- now, can I ask you some questions about this?...

- when others disappoint you, or even betray you...do you choose to entrust yourself the Father who judges righteously?...

- that is what it means to have Christ as the Shepherd and guardian of our souls...

- how much clearer could it be...[and isn’t it amazing that Peter is talking about this—we’ll get to his part of this story in a second]...For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example that we should follow in His steps...

- the question is...are you following in His steps?...

- I wonder if for some here this morning, the answer is no, because you have never trusted Christ as savior and Lord and you have not been healed by His wounds, and you have not positionally died to sin and are not able to powerfully live unto righteousness...[develop the gospel...]

- there is a sense in which this passage is both filled with sadness and filled with hope...

- now, where does Peter fit into this?...we have to be careful, but perhaps we could say it like this...

III. Misguided Loyalty is Better than No Loyalty at All.

- Peter is outraged by the entire scene...

- and please don’t think he must have been pretty good with the sword to only take off this fellow’s ear...

- all the commentators I’ve ever read on this passage are universal in their agreement that the only reason this guy was alive was because Peter was going for his neck and missed...

- and if compare this to the other gospels, you learn that Jesus actually stopped and healed this man by putting his ear back on...

- you almost expect to hear Him say...Peter this is not what I meant when I taught you the put off pout on principle!...

- but at least he was trying...

- at least at this part of the story he was attempting to be loyal to the master...

- and yes the action was wrong for a dozen reasons...but I’d rather have to corral a stallion than drag a dead horse any day of the week...

- now, let’s bring some of this around to where we are as a church...

1. Aren’t you glad that God has given us a Savior like this?...

- Who would not even allow betrayal at the hand of a close companion take Him off the course the Father had for Him?...

- that is why I want to encourage you to be back tonight for our church family night...

- when Jesus spoke about the Lord’s table, He said “do this...”...

- it is also a celebration of the faithfulness of our brothers and sisters in Christ...

2. Aren’t you glad that the Bible contains a compelling message of a Savior that can dramatically change the way people think about life, and live life?...

- that is why I want to encourage you to participate in the FCI classes, both by taking one and by grabbing some of these remaining catalogs and inviting friends...

- there are people all around us who are betraying God...and living under the guilt of spiritual failure...sometimes because they don’t how to get out...there are classes starting this week to help them...

- there are others who have been hurt, who have been betrayed...and are living in bitterness...and don’t know what to do...

- there are classes that highlight principles from Scripture...

3. Begin praying for and working toward the Passion Play...

4. Family series after Easter

Steve Viars

B.S. - Bible, Baptist Bible College
M.Div. - Grace Theological Seminary
D.Min. - Westminster Theological Seminary

Pastor Steve Viars has served at Faith Church since 1987. He and his wife Kris were married in 1982 and have two married daughters, a son, and two grandchildren. Pastor Viars’ gifted teaching ministry, enthusiasm for the Word of God, and organizational skills are instrumental in equipping Faith Church. He oversees the staff, deacons, and all Faith ministries and serves on the boards of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, Biblical Counseling Coalition, Vision of Hope, and the Faith Community Development Corporation.

Read Steve Viars’ Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Viars to Faith Church.

View Pastor Viars' Salvation Testimony Video