Subject 16 : The Gospel According to JOHN

[Chapter 18-1] Do Not Live Like Judas (John 18:1-14)

Do Not Live Like Judas
(John 18:1-14)
“When Jesus had spoken these words, He went out with His disciples over the Brook Kidron, where there was a garden, which He and His disciples entered. And Judas, who betrayed Him, also knew the place; for Jesus often met there with His disciples. Then Judas, having received a detachment of troops, and officers from the chief priests and Pharisees, came there with lanterns, torches, and weapons. Jesus therefore, knowing all things that would come upon Him, went forward and said to them, ‘Whom are you seeking?’ They answered Him, ‘Jesus of Nazareth.’ Jesus said to them, ‘I am He.’ And Judas, who betrayed Him, also stood with them. Now when He said to them, ‘I am He,’ they drew back and fell to the ground. Then He asked them again, ‘Whom are you seeking?’ And they said, ‘Jesus of Nazareth.’ Jesus answered, ‘I have told you that I am He. Therefore, if you seek Me, let these go their way,’ that the saying might be fulfilled which He spoke, ‘Of those whom You gave Me I have lost none.’ Then Simon Peter, having a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant, and cut off his right ear. The servant’s name was Malchus. So Jesus said to Peter, ‘Put your sword into the sheath. Shall I not drink the cup which My Father has given Me?’ Then the detachment of troops and the captain and the officers of the Jews arrested Jesus and bound Him. And they led Him away to Annas first, for he was the father-in-law of Caiaphas who was high priest that year. Now it was Caiaphas who advised the Jews that it was expedient that one man should die for the people.”
I just returned here this morning from traveling to Inje Discipleship Training Center to take care of some business. It was nice to be in Inje as it was cool despite the recent heat wave.
Easter is just around the corner. Although we don’t observe Christian holidays strictly as we consider it hypocritical, nominal Christians observe them rigorously and religiously. As this week is the Passion Week, the last week of Lent according to the Christian calendar, I’d like us to ruminate on John 18:1-14 and ponder on Judas Iscariot’s life.
Was Judas Deceived by Satan into Betraying Jesus?
When Jesus went with His disciples to the Garden of Gethsemane over the Brook Kidron, He already knew that it was time for Him to die on the Cross and return to God the Father. As Jesus had visited this garden often with His disciples, Judas Iscariot also knew the place quite well.
As one of the twelve disciples of Jesus, Judas was responsible for the money box. In today’s parlance, he was the treasurer. However, true to the saying that opportunity makes the thief, Judas used to steal from the money box and spend it for himself. Judas was greedy like this, and when he found out that the chief priests, the religious leaders of Judaism, wanted to kill Jesus, he led them to where Jesus was in exchange for 30 silver coins. Judas had betrayed Jesus.
With Judas guiding them, the officers of the chief priests and Pharisees entered the garden where Jesus was, bringing with them a detachment of troops armed with lanterns, torches, and weapons. But Jesus did not try to escape from them, as He already knew that it was time for Him to return to God the Father. Far from fleeing, He said to them, “I am the One you are looking for!” Taken aback by this boldness, Jesus’ arrestors drew back and fell to the ground.
Although the Bible provides a brief account of this event, it’s all but certain that Jesus was not happy when the people came to arrest Him. Even though He already knew what was to unfold, He must have felt some resentment against His arrestors when He said, “I am the One you are looking for!” It was natural for Him to feel this way, since these people did not realize that He was the Son of God and just wanted to put Him to death, even though He had come to this earth to save the world. But, at the same time, His heart was resolute and ready enough to face all the sufferings that awaited Him. So when Jesus said forcefully, “I am the One you are looking for,” the people who had come to arrest Him with so much enthusiasm couldn’t help but fall on the ground in fear.
Since Jesus is God Himself, He could have easily defeated all His arrestors even if they attacked Him with swords. However, even though Jesus was more than able to do this as the Almighty God, because He had come to this world to save the human race, He did not exercise His power. If He had used His power to take away His arrestors’ lives, He would not have been arrested. Even if Jesus were attacked by all the heavily armed troops of the Roman Empire, He could have easily defeated them all.
When we turn to Luke 4:28-30, we see people trying to kill Jesus for preaching the Word of God in a synagogue. Full of rage, the people drove Him out of the village, took Him to the edge of a cliff, and tried to push Him over. But Jesus walked through them untouched while none of them dared to stop Him. He had such power to prevail over anyone and everyone.
Why, then, did Jesus not escape from His arrestors even though He had done so once when people tried to push Him over a cliff? That’s because He knew that it was time for Him to return to God the Father. Although Jesus was on this earth incarnated in the flesh of man for a short while, He was not a creature like us. He was fundamentally God Himself. However, rather than claiming His rightful, equally divine status as God the Father, He humbled Himself like a servant. To save us from sin, He had forsaken all His majesty, exaltation, and glory, and He had become a humble servant for a short while.
To the soldiers and officers cowering down on the ground, Jesus asked once again, “Whom are you seeking?” and said to them that He was Jesus of Nazareth. He asked them not to harm the disciples that were with Him. He said this not to lose any of His beloved disciples as He had prayed to God the Father, “Of those whom You gave Me I have lost none” (John 18:9). This was the fulfillment of His prayer for His disciples that was offered a few hours ago: “While I was with them in the world, I kept them in Your name. Those whom You gave Me I have kept; and none of them is lost except the son of perdition, that the Scripture might be fulfilled” (John 17:12). Even though Jesus saw how Judas had betrayed Him and come to arrest Him, and even though He knew that Peter would deny Him three times, He still loved His disciples until the end like this.
It’s not because the people at that time had some great power that they could crucify Jesus. Rather, Jesus had permitted them to do so. When Jesus was taken to Pilate, he could not find any fault with Him. So Pilate tried to release Jesus, saying to him, “I have the power to release You. So speak to me; if You appeal to me, I am more than able to release You.” However, Jesus did not say anything. Did Pilate really have the power to release Jesus? Without Jesus’ permission, Pilate could have neither arrested Him nor released Him. Our Lord remained quiet only because He had come to this earth to do the good work of saving the human race from sin; it’s absolutely not because He was somehow powerless that He was put to death. Because Jesus had accepted all the sins of the world through His baptism, He had to die on the Cross. And He had become our true Savior by rising from the dead again, and He had to break the power of Satan by fulfilling all His works of salvation to perfection. It’s for this that Jesus had stayed quiet.
However, when the chief priests’ servants tried to arrest Jesus, Peter stuck one of them named Malchus and cut off his ear. From a human point of view, this was a just and fully understandable act. Since Peter was wholeheartedly devoted to Jesus as his Teacher, it was only a matter of course for him to try to prevent His arrest. However, Peter acted on his own thoughts, stemming from his failure to understand the true purpose for which Jesus had come to this world.
Jesus had come to this earth to solve the problem of the sins of mankind with the gospel of the water and the Spirit. That is why He had accepted all the sins of this world once and for all through John the Baptist. As Peter had served Jesus at His side, he had heard countless times that the Lord would die and rise from the dead again, but Peter had not really understood what all this really meant. Instead of trying to prevent Jesus’ arrest in a fit of rage, Peter should have realized that the Lord’s time had come. So, far from commending Peter for his act, Jesus rebuked him, saying to him, “Put your sword into the sheath.” He said this because God the Father had entrusted Him with the work of salvation to bear the sins of the world once and for all by being baptized and die for them on the Cross, and therefore it was fitting for Jesus to drink this cup of suffering.
Judas Iscariot should not be confused with Jude, another disciple of Jesus who wrote the Book of Jude. Although Judas Iscariot was also a disciple of Jesus, he betrayed Jesus and eagerly delivered Him to the chief priests. This happened because Jesus had already accepted all the sins of the world through John the Baptist, and therefore He had to be crucified to death.
Why, then, did it specifically fall on Judas to betray Jesus? Was there any reason why Judas in particular was used as such an accursed instrument? How could he, as a disciple of Jesus, deliver his own Teacher to certain death? Of all people, why was Judas specifically used for this? It’s because Judas had not believed in Jesus as the Son of God and the Savior of mankind, even though he had served Him at His side.
Take a look at what Judas did here. He led the servants of the chief priests and Pharisees to Jesus to arrest Him and deliver Him to Pilate the governor. Even though Judas had followed Jesus for three years, he had never believed that Jesus was God Himself, not even once. He was just interested in drawing people’s attention through the miracles performed by Jesus, and he was blinded by his greed over the money box.
In those days, the chief priests were in collusion with the Roman Empire. To put it simply, they were traitors and thieves. This means that Judas had joined hands with the religious leaders of Israel who had not only betrayed their own people to the Roman Empire but were also sucking on their blood. And he did all this just for 30 coins of silver.
Even without Judas, Jesus would have gone on His way. Because He had already borne all the sins of this world through the baptism He received from John the Baptist, He had to be crucified to death without fail. So even if Judas hadn’t betrayed the Lord, there were plenty of people who could have played his role.
But why did this role specifically fall on Judas, a disciple of Jesus? I am not asking this question just because Judas was a disciple of Jesus and I somehow feel pity for him, but to explain why, of all people, it fell on Judas to fulfill this role. Why was it specifically Judas who betrayed Jesus? It’s true that there were others responsible for Jesus’ death, from the chief priests to the Roman soldiers and the Pharisees, but it was Judas who played the most decisive role. Everyone should be used for a good purpose; then why was Judas, who was not just anyone but a disciple of Jesus, given this evil role of bringing suffering to Jesus in His work of salvation? Let’s ponder on this question carefully here.
Movies and television serial dramas usually have a few villains. But the actors who play such a role often suffer from their type-casting because of their image as villains. In Korea, there was a time when anti-Communist movies were in vogue, and an actor named Gosung Dok, who has passed away, used to play as a villainous North Korean soldier in many such movies. It was a time when many South Koreans still harbored ill-feelings toward the North Korean regime, and so the people hated Dok intensely because he used to play the role of a wicked North Korean solider who massacred innocent civilians. As the people were prone to equate the movie character with the actor, they saw Dok as an evil man while anyone who killed North Korean soldiers was considered a hero. Like this, even actors are hated by many if they play as villains.
Why, then, did Judas—of all people, a disciple of Jesus—actually play such an evil role? Even though he had followed Jesus for no less than three years, he did not recognize that Jesus was God Himself. Did Judas fail to recognize Jesus just because He was humble and had little that was attractive in His outside appearance? That’s unlikely, since Judas saw what the Lord did, and therefore he must have known that Jesus was the Son of God. Jesus had even raised the dead back to life. Is there anyone in this world who can raise the dead? No, of course not. Only Jesus can raise the dead and heal the blind.
There is a Korean movie named Halleluiah, which makes a parody of Korean Christianity. In this movie a charlatan feigning as a pastor hires homeless people to pretend to be lame or blind, so that he can stage fake miracles.
In contrast, the miracles and signs that Jesus showed were not such staged shows, but they were real. While on this earth, Jesus healed many people and saved many lives. His Word was the truth. He had no wickedness at all. Why did Judas then betray Jesus and side with the wicked religious leaders such as the chief priests and the Pharisees? It’s because he had no faith that Jesus was God Himself. That’s why his soul was seized by Satan, to ultimately be used for the worst role in the world.
Let’s consider ourselves here and now then. Let’s examine ourselves to see if there is anyone among us who is being used for an evil purpose. Where are you being used? Born as human beings, all of us are destined to leave a certain mark in history before we disappear, though it may be no more than a dot in the greater scheme of things. For what purpose, then, are our lives being used? Are we being used for evil purposes? Or are we really being used for a righteous cause?
Judas betrayed Jesus because he did not believe that Jesus was the Son of God and his Savior. He couldn’t have done this if he really believed in Jesus. Contrast Judas to Peter. When Jesus was about to be arrested, Peter swung his sword and cut off the ear of Malchus, one of the men that had come to arrest the Lord. Had the Lord not stopped him, Peter himself would have been killed for sure. Like this, Peter risked his own life to defend Jesus. His faith was fundamentally different from Judas’ faith, and it was the latter that was flawed.
How about you and me then? Should we allow ourselves to betray Jesus and persecute His righteous servants? Let’s think about this for a moment. If we believe in neither the gospel of the water and the Spirit nor Jesus who is the Son of God and our Savior, then we would also become like Judas. You have no choice but to become another Judas unless you believe that Jesus the true Sheppard of mankind is your Savior. In other words, if your heart deviates from the gospel of the water and the Spirit and instead sides with the unrighteous, then you will be used by the Devil.
Man is nothing. Your life is determined depending on what you believe in and rely on. If you believe in what is truly right—that is, in the gospel of the water and the Spirit—and you serve this righteous cause and follow it until the end despite your shortcomings, then you will become an upright person. If, on the other hand, you side with the wicked, then you will end up committing evil deeds even if this is not what you really want. What kind of people should we become then? And what kind of people are we becoming now?
Let’s consider the entire span of our lives here. We need to consider how many years are left from our remaining lives, and it only takes a quick calculation to find it. Let’s say that your life expectancy is around 80 years. It may seem like a long time, but if you really think about it, it’s not that long. Years go by so fast that by the time you are done with school, find a job, have children and raise a family, you will be an old and decrepit man facing the sunset of your life. This is inevitable for everyone; no one can stop the clock, and all must grow old and die eventually. Life is not such a big deal. Once born, it’s unavoidable for you to get sick and die in your old age, and that is how every human life runs its due course. Life is indeed insignificant. I am sure that you know this even if you are still young.
As I’ve mentioned it to you many times before, when I was about to graduate from a graduate school, I was grappling with the question of how I would end my life. At that time, I had not met the gospel of the water and the Spirit yet, and so I had concluded that I was already dead, no different from someone in the grave.
Our lives are meaningless like this, but there is another life, one that is truly worthwhile, that all of us can lead. How can we then live such a life? Our worthless lives are made priceless once we are saved by believing in Jesus as our Savior and in the gospel of the water and the Spirit that He has given us. What the consequences will be if you don’t believe in Jesus as your Savior is clear. You don’t have to wait until the end of your life to find out its consequences; instead, you can find them out even while alive, right at this very moment. No matter how wonderful you may think your life is even without Jesus, its consequences are obvious for everyone to see.
What would have happened to me if I had not believed in Jesus as my Savior? I’d probably have believed in another religion. And I’d have acted according to my beliefs. What would have happened then? Satan would have been my guide, and I would have followed him to harbor evil thoughts and do evil things. No doubt I’d have lived such a wicked life. There is no one who doesn’t know this.
Judas also did not know what he was doing. But at the last supper, Jesus clearly identified him as His betrayer, saying, “He who dipped his hand with Me in the dish will betray Me” (Matthew 26:23). In Jesus’ days, people usually ate bread by dipping it into a vinegar dish. At the time of the last supper, Judas was the only one who dipped his hand with Jesus. Although all the twelve disciples were gathered around the table, Judas alone dipped a piece of bread into the vinegar dish along with Jesus. That’s why Jesus had said that the one who dipped his hand with Him in the dish was His betrayer.
Judas could have withdrawn his hand from the dish and pretended nothing had happened. The other disciples were troubled by what Jesus had said, and so they all asked Him, “Am I the betrayer, Lord?” But Judas knew whom Jesus had in His mind. The Lord then told him to do quickly what he had decided to do. At that moment, the Devil took over Judas completely, and right away Judas went to the chief priests and the Pharisees to betray the Lord. The chief priests handed him 30 coins of silver, and he took their officers to the Garden of Gethsemane where Jesus was. He then delivered Jesus to the chief priests to be ultimately crucified to death. Only after this did Judas finally realize what he had done.
You must examine yourself to see whether or not Jesus is in your heart. And depending on what your answer is, you can know who you really are, whether you really believe in Jesus as your Savior or you believe in something else more. You yourself know this answer better than anyone else. No one is ignorant of himself, so long as one is not deceiving himself. Everyone knows what and how he believes, and what he will do in the future.

Let’s Think about Our Present Spiritual Condition

On this Passion Week, I’d like to ask you to think about your spiritual condition rather than the suffering of Jesus. Ask yourself whether or not you are becoming like Judas. Even among Christians professing to believe in Jesus as their Savior, there are many who are like Judas. It’s not true that they don’t know who they really are. They are just deceiving themselves even as they know it. So they must stop deceiving themselves, turn around from wickedness, return to God and surrender themselves to Him as soon as possible, and believe that Jesus is God Himself with thanksgiving. And they must receive all the blessings God is offering them. If you are such a nominal Christian, I admonish you to turn around from the wicked way as soon as possible. Why would you want to be used for wickedness like Judas? I hope and pray that you would turn around and return into the Lord’s arms.
Depending on whom we follow, we may be used for evil purposes or good causes. It’s akin to what happens in school: If a student falls into the wrong crowd in school, this student will go astray, but if he befriends good students, he will do well in school. Likewise, if you befriend good people, you will also become such a good person, but if you befriend charlatans, then you will also turn into a charlatan.
Above all else, you must not allow yourself to be used for evil purposes only to be cursed and destroyed forever like Judas, even as you believe in Jesus. You can prevent this beforehand if only you don’t deceive yourself. If you know that you’ve gone astray, then all that you have to do is just admit this, rebuke yourself, and repent from your old way to return to the righteous path. You only have to turn yourself to the right direction, and believe in and follow what is right. You can then become a perfect person.
Someone who follows his instincts is no different from a beast. The Book of Jude also writes that those who trust and follow just their own instincts are like brute beasts (Jude 1:10). If there is anyone who is like Judas among our ministers, workers, and saints in the Church, I hope and pray that all such people would repent, turn around, and believe in and follow Jesus as the Son of God and their Savior.
In some ways, Judas Iscariot is a pitiful man. What happened to Judas after he was used by the Devil is clearly explained in Matthew 27:3-5: “Then Judas, His betrayer, seeing that He had been condemned, was remorseful and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, saying, ‘I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.’ And they said, ‘What is that to us? You see to it!’ Then he threw down the pieces of silver in the temple and departed, and went and hanged himself.”
Only after Judas betrayed Jesus did he finally realize to his great regret that he had been used by the Devil. So he returned the 30 pieces of silver to the chief priests, but they told him that the consequences of his betrayal were his to bear. Realizing that by then it was too late to change anything, Judas ended up killing himself over his guilt.
It’s a grave sin to commit suicide before God. That’s why the Old Testament says, “You shall not eat anything that dies of itself” (Deuteronomy 14:21). When Judas realized his mistake, he should have turned around and repented, but he instead tried to mitigate his guilt in his own way.

Believe in Jesus as Your Savior

If you still don’t believe in Jesus as your Savior who came by the gospel of the water and the Spirit, then believe in Him according to this true gospel even at this very moment. Think about the baptism of Jesus and His Cross. Jesus’ baptism was the means by which He bore the sins of the world, and the Cross is where He was cursed for you. Isn’t it true? Why was Jesus then baptized and crucified to shed His blood? Instead of just thinking about the suffering Jesus bore on the Cross, think about the reason why He had to be baptized and crucified.
Jesus had to bear our sins through the baptism He received from John the Baptist, and He had to shed His blood on the Cross to pay off the wages of these sins, thereby saving all of us who believe in this. It’s because of your sins and mine that Jesus was baptized and crucified to death. Because we could not solve the problem of our sins by ourselves, the sinless Jesus had to become our propitiation and be baptized and crucified in our place.
If we think about our destiny carefully, we know that we cannot help but commit sin throughout our entire lifetime. It is our common destiny to do nothing but sin until we are cast into hell. Yet Jesus loved such people like us so much. He did not want us to be cast into hell, for He had made us the objects of His love. That is why Jesus came to this earth incarnated in the flesh of man, shouldered the sins of the world by being baptized by John the Baptist, and died on the Cross in our place.
Do you then now realize that the baptism of Jesus is also found in the Cross? If we delve deep into the Lord’s work of salvation rather just looking at the final outcome of the Cross, we can realize that Jesus was crucified because He had borne all our sins once and for all through the baptism He received from John the Baptist. Ultimately, it’s because of your sins and mine that Jesus was baptized and crucified to death in our place. And having risen from the dead again, He bore witness of the perfection fulfillment of our salvation. That is how we ought to believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. We shouldn’t just think vaguely of the baptism of Jesus, His blood on the Cross, and His resurrection. Jesus’ baptism, blood, and resurrection all stemmed from one Truth. And this Truth is found in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. Therefore, we need to ponder carefully on how this Truth is related to you and me.
You have to think about the baptism of Jesus, His blood on the Cross, and His resurrection in relation to yourself. Once you do this, you will realize that none of them is irrelevant to you. You and I also are related to each other. Through the gospel of the water and the Spirit, all of us must become God’s people, and we must fulfill His will by carrying out His work in unity. If we were to live scattered rather than living out our faith together even after believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, then we would be unable to carry out God’s work or receive His blessings. That is why we must gather together to worship God. There, in God’s Church, are those who preach the Word of God and those who listen to it. All are gathered together to listen to the gospel of the water and the Spirit and serve this gospel. There is nothing in this world that is irrelevant. Everything is relevant to everything else.
Even Judas is relevant to you. Think about it. From Judas’ account you have much to learn and realize—namely, that you shouldn’t allow yourself to be like Judas and, if you are already acting like Judas, then do everything possible to correct yourself. Therefore, when you listen to the Word of God, you should never think of it separate from you, as though it has no relevance to you; instead, you must consider every Word in relation to yourself.
God is profoundly relevant to you. Will you then still say, “I have nothing to do with God”? How can God not be relevant to you? Isn’t it because of God that you were born on this earth, and isn’t it also God who saved you from sin through the gospel of the water and the Spirit when you were trapped in sin deceived by Satan? So how can you say that God is not relevant to you?
It’s because of God that we were born; it’s because of God that we received the remission of sins; and it’s because of God that we were able to avoid our certain curses. It’s all thanks to God that we no longer have to be cast into hell. So how could there be no relationship between God and us? How could we live the rest of our lives as though we had nothing to do with God, when in fact we already have several important ties to Him? We are already related to God very closely. All of you must realize this and believe so.
The very fact that God has saved us from the sins of the world through the gospel of the water and the Spirit itself shows clearly that we have a close relationship with God. God Himself came to this earth to save you and me from the sins of the world, He bore all our sins by being baptized by John the Baptist, and He paid off the wages of these sins on the Cross with His own life. And He completed our salvation by rising from the dead again. That Jesus was born on this earth, that He took upon all our sins by being baptized, and that He carried the sins of the world to the Cross—all these things are indispensably relevant to us. That’s because these works were carried out to eradicate all our sins.
The betrayal of Judas and the arrest of Jesus shown in today’s Scripture passage are also eminently relevant to all of us. Jesus was dragged to Golgotha because He had borne our sins through the baptism He received from John the Baptist. There is no other reason but this. Jesus was crucified to blot out all our sins and to be condemned in our place. Like this, everything Jesus did on this earth is inexorably related to you and me.
Just as the Lord’s work of salvation is relevant for all of us His believers, it is also relevant to the people of the world. They must all listen to the gospel of the water and the Spirit through Jesus Christ. Far from being irrelevant, the gospel of the water and the Spirit is absolutely indispensable to each and every one of them. And through this gospel Word of the water and the Spirit, they must rebuild their relationship with the Lord as His true disciples and servants, not as Judas.
If you have nothing to do with Jesus at all, or if you have no faith in the Lord as your Savior and end up delivering Him to death like Judas, then you will be destroyed. Such people will all be cast into hell in the end. If you are like Judas right now, then I ask you to believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit as soon as possible and escape from Satan’s curses. I admonish you with all my heart to free yourself from such an accursed life of Judas. The choice is yours to make.
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Sermons on the Gospel of John (VIII) - THE LORD WHO HAS GIVEN US BLESSED LIFE