Sunday’s Sermon

I’m doing this Sunday morning’s sermon online on the Empire United Methodist Chruch’s facebook page (and my facebook page) and sending it by email and mailing it to those who don’t use the internet.

If you are following along on Facebook, please be sure to hit the “like” button and also “share” this recording so we can reach as many folks as we can.

Let us pray…

As we come before you on this day we ask that you open our hearts and minds to what it is that you want us to hear and to experience in today’s sermon. May your Holy Spirit rain down upon us covering us in your love and grace. It is in your Holy Name that we pray. Amen.

This is the final week of our sermon series called “The Journey” & today’s sermon title is “Judas Betrayal”

As we continue our journey to the cross this morning, we are going to start out with a little game so you’re going to need a pencil and piece of paper.

As you can see here, there are 12 different colored circles numbered 1 thru 12. Each one has the name of a disciple on them.

One of these circles represents the disciple Judas. Select the circle you think could be Judas’ circle and write the number down on a piece of paper and hang onto it.

Even though Jesus knew he would be betrayed, he put his life in the hands of his disciples. I’m going to ask you to put something precious to you in someone else’s hands.

 If we would’ve been at church a couple of Sundays ago, each of you would have been given a small possession bag with some business cards with pictures on them of:  

Money,  time,  food, clothing,  a car,  a house,  a cup of coffee and a blank one to write on.

The 1st  Sunday you were asked to choose something that represented what you would like to give to God – in giving your best. Last Sunday you took something that  represented what you could give up to cleanse your heart – God’s temple. Today I would like you to find something from your possession bag that you feel is precious to you – to give up. Write it down on your paper.

Okay, let’s see if anyone guessed the Judas circle correctly. If you didn’t guess correctly, you forfeit your earthly possession and you must keep it on your paper – If you guessed right, you get to keep your possession and cross it off your paper.

Okay here we go…  Number 7 or the Pink Circle is Judas.

How did it feel if you guessed wrong and you had to give up your earthly possession? What if you really had to give up your home, food, or clothes based on that guess? That’s really hard for us to imagine, isn’t it? Imagine how Jesus felt knowing for sure that someone would betray him and that he would die because of the betrayal.

Our story for today is found in – Mark 14:17-21 (MSG)

17-18 After sunset he came with the Twelve. As they were at the supper table eating, Jesus said, “I have something hard but important to say to you: One of you is going to hand me over to the conspirators, one who at this moment is eating with me.” 19 Stunned, they started asking, one after another, “It isn’t me, is it?”   20-21 He said, “It’s one of the Twelve, one who eats with me out of the same bowl.

In one sense, it turns out that the Son of Man is entering into a way of treachery well-marked by the Scriptures—no surprises here.  In another sense, the man who turns him in, turns traitor to the Son of Man—better never to have been born than do this!”

One of the most dramatic moments of The Passion is the betrayal of Jesus by Judas. It is what sets in motion the events of Jesus arrest, trial and crucifixion. This scene speaks of betrayal in both the specific and general sense. Judas would literally hand Jesus over in betrayal, but its meaning goes deeper.

Curiously, when Jesus spoke of one betrayer during their meal together, all of the disciples wondered, “Is it I?”  Wouldn’t they know? You see, they did know in their hearts that they were guilty before Him.

We have all betrayed Jesus. Each one has placed his/her hand in that dish with Jesus. Every sin has such dire consequences that it means it would be better had we never been born. Judas here becomes the example of what we look like apart from faith in Jesus Christ. To not live in faith is to be Judas–the betrayer.

Judas was not alone in his betrayal of Christ.
All sin is a betrayal of Christ. Romans 8:7 says, “The sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so.”  We have all been guilty of betrayal. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23

“If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.” I John 1:8

What about Judas? Judas was a disciple. He was close to Jesus, but ultimately he turned Jesus over to the authorities.   “Then Judas Iscariot, one of the Twelve, went to the chief priests to betray Jesus to them. They were delighted to hear this and promised to give him money. So he watched for an opportunity to hand him over.” Mark 14:10-11

There is the belief that money or greed is what drove Judas.  Others  believe that Judas was trying to force Jesus to rise up as a Messiah. We don’t really know the motive for Judas.  But what we do know is that this was a fulfillment of prophecy.  In Zechariah 11:12 it says, “I told them, ‘ If you think it best, give me my pay; but if not, keep it.’ So they paid me thirty pieces of silver.”
And we know that Satan put the plan in his heart. Because in Luke 22:3 it says, “Then Satan entered Judas one of the Twelve.”

Isn’t that how Satan works in our lives? Doesn’t he plant a seed of thought or doubt and bring temptation in front of us so that we stumble?  The motive for sin doesn’t matter; it is still a betrayal of Christ.

According to a police report in January on the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. Web site, a driver denied that he had an illegal radar detector, claiming that the black box on his dashboard was a “moose detector” that had indeed kept him safe from moose. And Joseph Hubbert, age 34, explained to Minneapolis police on Christmas morning that the reason he got stuck in the chimney of Uncle Hugo’s Mystery Bookstore was not because he was up to no good, but because he had accidentally dropped his keys down the chimney and had to crawl down to get them. {Canadian Broadcasting Corp., 1-12-04} {Star Tribune, 2-03-04}

Whatever the excuse it doesn’t change the circumstance. But we try to find reason or motive for sin and failure in our lives as if that somehow excuses our blame for our wrong actions.

But there is hope. God’s love is the remedy for our betrayal.  Remorse and guilt led Judas to commit suicide because of his betrayal of Christ. Judas never experienced the love and grace Christ came to provide.  Peter, who also betrayed Christ that night, was restored and forgiven. After Jesus rose from the dead he sent specifically for Peter so that he could show him love.

An angel told the women at the tomb: “But go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.’” Mark 16:7

What was the difference? Both Judas and Peter betrayed Jesus. But Judas was tormented and killed himself and Peter became one who took the message of Jesus around the world. Peter understood that hope for life’s pain was found in Jesus.  I Peter 1:3 says, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.”

There is no sin God will not forgive. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” I John 1:9

The longer we delay confession the longer we delay God’s grace.
“When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer. Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord’—and you forgave the guilt of my sin.”  Psalm 32:3-5

The other 11 disciples swore they would die with Jesus rather than deny Him. Like them, we often declare with words our love and devotion to Jesus and then betray Him in a multitude of ways, such as –   Being hateful/spiteful in attitude toward others –  Holding grudges –  Loving Jesus at church but treating our own family members or friends hatefully –  Being unwilling to give of our money, talents, or time –  Refusing to study God’s Word – A Sunday School teacher not prepared

-Someone not being on time to church services or Preachers not prepared to preach

If we are honest with ourselves, there are many people —from our own family members to Jesus Himself—whom if we looked them in the eye, we would have to confess “It is I” who have betrayed you.

Jesus came to forgive and cleanse us from our treachery and betrayal. We have all treated Jesus just as Judas did. But He has become the great sacrifice for our sin and stands ready to forgive us and make us new again.  Whatever our rebellion whatever our betrayal, Jesus desires to forgive and renew.

Let us pray…

O God, we thank you for sending Your son to save us from our sins. May we confess our sins to you and accept your forgiveness. We pray that we will continue to strive to be more like Jesus and to be Your “light” to shine in this dark world. May You use us each day to show your love to those around us. In your name we pray. Amen.

Remember to keep supporting the church and it’s ministries by mailing in your offerings or contacting Roy Pentilla for on-line giving (we still need to pay our utilities, staff and other bills). With your continued giving, we will have a building and ministries to come back to. Our mission of the month for March is the “Pastor’s Discretionary Fund” which will help folks in need. Just make a notation on your check. Please be sure to let me know if you need any assistance. Stay safe and stay well.


Pastor Melody