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Lessons from the Tragedy of Judas




Lessons from the Tragedy of Judas C. Doug Blair, 2011

Judas Departs

I cant believe, I wont believe, That this is how it goes. The King of Kings and Lord of Lords, A victim of his foes!

The man who won the crowds with food, With talks of realms of peace, A fool, who should have used such power To gain the Jews release! For Rome could not have proved a match For quickened Hebrew zeal, The kind that often sparked their eyes, While he would teach or heal.

But he is fixed upon a path Of suffering and shame; And says that such may be the lot Of those who bear his name.

Pathetic! Just a mendicant! No current house or trade! Depending on the charity Of friends, recently made.

And now he bids us share his feast In Passover retreat Behold, the Master strips himself To wash and soothe our feet!

A common slave would do the task In any other case, But Jesus still perversely seeks The lowly servants place.

It is enough! I cant go on; Hence, I have seized a plan To set the stage for his arrest, And merchandise the man.

Jesus, you proved a dreamer That the times can ill afford. I cant believe; I wont believe; And so I leave, MLord.

Part One Pretender or Fallen from Grace?


I am saying this at the beginning. I may be wrong.

What writer starts off with such a pitch?

Indeed the story of Judas Iscariot has kept believers and theologians in dialogue for millenia.

Was this man truly called into discipleship? He took instruction from the Master and traveled with brother disciples preaching the Gospel, healing the sick and casting out devils. He returned to Jesus with the others happily giving an account of most successful ministry.

So is it appropriate to say that at one time he was a believer, but that he fell. Arminians, Holiness and Pentecostal people would so contend.

Others of the Reformed or Calvinist way would conclude quite the contrary. He was a pretender. Perhaps he had been awakened out of the legalism of the Jews, but only partly. If he had truly experienced conversion and new life in Jesus, he could never fall. Grow cold occasionally. Lose some of the zeal of first love in the faith. But never entirely fall from grace.

We could go to the parable of the sower and the seed as given in Mark 4. Which type of earth was Judas?

14The sower soweth the word.

15And these are they by the way side, where the word is sown; but when they have heard, Satan cometh immediately, and taketh away the word that was sown in their hearts.

16And these are they likewise which are sown on stony ground; who, when they have heard the word, immediately receive it with gladness;

17And have no root in themselves, and so endure but for a time: afterward, when affliction or persecution ariseth for the word's sake, immediately they are offended.

18And these are they which are sown among thorns; such as hear the word,

19And the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful.

20And these are they which are sown on good ground; such as hear the word, and receive it, and bring forth fruit, some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some an hundred.

It will not be the purpose of this document to convince readers one way or the other. Certainly there are zealous, committed believers supporting either point of view.

I will say that after considerable searching, I have gone from a Holiness perspective to a Reformed and then back to a Holiness. I see that there are aspects in which the faithful must work out their own salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12). But even in this portion of scripture there is room for arguing that God makes it all happen according to His own sovereign will:

12Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.

13For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.

But enough said for now. There will be more to follow. Let us get back to Judas

The Message at the Meal

A hymn they sang to finish Their last meal with the Lord; A time of blessing hidden From threat of scribe or sword.

An upper room was furnished For what had proved to be Their place of richest teaching Ere Jesus faced the tree.

As other families gathered, So he with his reclined. The Vine with his dear branches, By love so intertwined.

In bitter-sweet remembrance Of Israels darkest hour, When lambs blood oer the door-frame Assured redeeming power.

And as no other member Would stoop to washing feet, Christ took the soothing laver And made the feast complete.

With bread and wine he showed them The brotherhoods new fare; Those broken, poured-out tokens, His life and love to share.

Then startling words were uttered, Their peace abruptly cleft; That one would soon betray him, And Judas, strangely, left.

The stillness now arresting, With his departure near, The Master seized the moment To overcome their fear.

And spoke of how the Spirit Would soon be at their door, To strengthen them and comfort them And teach them more and more.

While he would be in Glory Preparing them a place, Whence he would come to take them To see the Fathers face!

How thrilling was this teaching! How strangely pulled their love! The times with him so precious; Still grander times above?

And lastly, he allowed them To hear his priestly prayer; That Father would sustain them Through all lifes toil and care.

A hymn they sang to finish, That wondrous Hallel Psalm, {PSALM 118) Portraying the Messiah At deaths dark door, yet calm.

This meeting, how exquisite! This Master, how sublime! This message meant to strengthen Til Resurrection Time!

JOHN 15: 5 I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.

Did You Notice Something?Judas was at the first Eucharist and partook of the elements! This is clear from a straight-forward reading of Luke 22.

Our Sacrament of Remembrance is simply that; and not, as presented by some, a means of entitlement to life in Christ. Oh, there is a quickening and renewing aspect to the Feast properly taken, but mere partaking is not the entranceway to salvation.

And all of this coming from a one-time Anglican!

So, Judas had taken the supper; had received Jesus instruction to go out and do what he had to do quickly; had left the oil lamps of the Upper Room for outer darkness; had gathered the Temple Guards for the secretive arrest; had traveled the distance to Gethsemane; and had sealed his treachery with a kiss.

When we come to the Lords Table with unforgiveness; puffed up vanity; heads pre-occupied with the everyday; nastiness held onto without release of repentance, are we not sealing hypocrisy and treachery with just such a kiss?

Interestingly a devotional read on the very day of this writing came arrestingly close. I have spent much time over the years in Come Ye Apart by the Presbyterian J. R. Miller. Hear todays thought:

December 2ndThe King of the Jews

And set up over his head his accusation written, This is Jesus the King of the Jews

Matthew 27:37

There was no other crime charged. He had done nothing amiss. Pilate had satisfied himself of that. He had examined Him, and could find no fault in Him, hence he would not write any charge on His cross but this, that He was the King of the Jews. The rulers objected to this, and wanted him to write that he said He was King of the Jews; but Pilate would not change a word, and there it stood above His head during all the agony and all the darkness the King of the Jews.

So He was. The tablet told the truth, though erected to mock the people. He was the Messiah who had been promised all through the centuries. He was the King of whom David was but the type. He was the Christ who had been foretold by prophets, and waited for age after age by the nation. At last He came. Angels sang at His birth. His life had been one of great blessing and power. He had wrought miracles of mercy all over the land. He had taught, speaking as never man spoke. He had fulfilled all the Messianic conditions. Yet His enemies had rejected Him; and at last they led Him out to Calvary and nailed Him on the cross. Still He was their King their King rejected, their King crucified. His throne was His cross; His crown was the circlet of thorns that the soldiers had twisted and wound around His head.

It does not seem to us a kingly hour in our Lords life when He hangs on His cross dying, yet really it was the time of His highest earthly exaltation. He spoke of going to His cross as going to be glorified. He was indeed King of the Jews. They crucified their King. He is our King too. How are we treating Him? Are we obeying Him? Are any of us rejecting Him? Are any of us crucifying Him afresh? We had better answer these questions.

I Lay Them on Your Altar (John 17)

Father, I have watchedOver these men.Have taken them your imagesOf community free From retaliation.Of joy in the Rendering of mercy.Of good reportOn those who struggle,With only the half known.Of fulness of daysFree from fear of supply, From fear of man.

I have set themTo wandering.Ambassadors of a realmNot yet seen.Sporadically meeting the test.Boiling often in self-hurt.Turning, of times,To look back from the plough.Vying for place.Vying for glory.Missing often the real gemsDelivered with No special