Text: “And Judas Iscariot”— Mark 3: 19.
… There are but three things that I would like to say concerning Judas as I come to the end of my message.
The first is that he was heartless in the extreme. It was just after a touching scene recorded in Matthew the twenty-sixth chapter the seventh to the thirteenth verses, “There came unto him a woman having an alabaster box of very precious ointment, and poured it on his head, as he sat at meat. But when his disciples saw it, they had indignation, saying, To what purpose is this waste? For this ointment might have been sold for much, and given to the poor. When Jesus understood it, he said unto them, Why trouble ye the woman? for she hath wrought a good work upon me. For ye have the poor always with you; but me ye have not always. For in that she hath poured this ointment on my body, she did it for my burial. Verily I say unto you, Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached in the whole world, there shall also this, that this woman hath done, be told for a memorial of her.” It was after this that Judas went to the enemies of Jesus and offered to sell him, and as if that were not enough, it was just after he had left Gethsemane, in Matthew the twenty-sixth chapter the forty-fifth to the forty-ninth verses, that he betrayed him with his kiss. “Then cometh he to his disciples and saith unto them, Sleep on now, and take your rest; behold, the hour is at hand, and the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise, let us be going : behold, he is at hand that doth betray me. And while he yet spake, lo, Judas, one of the twelve, came, and with him a great multitude, with swords and staves, from the chief priests and elders of the people. Now he that betrayed him gave them a sign, saying, Whomsoever I shall kiss, that same is he: hold him fast. And forthwith he came to Jesus, and said, Hail, Master; and kissed him.” The blood drops had just been rolling down the cheeks of the Master, for he sweat, as it were, great drops of blood; and I can quite understand how upon the very lips of Judas the condemning blood may have left its mark. But do not condemn him; he is scarcely more heartless than the man who to-day rejects him after all his gracious ministry, his sacrificial death and his mediatorial work of nineteen hundred years.
Second: His death was awful. Acts 1: 18, “Now this man purchased a field with the reward of iniquity; and falling headlong, he burst asunder in the midst, and all his bowels gushed out.” I can imagine him going out to the place where he is to end it all, remembering as he walked how Jesus had looked at him, recalling, doubtless, some of his spoken messages, and certainly remembering how once he had been with him in all his unfaithful ministry. All this must have swept before him like a great panorama, and with the vision of his betrayed Master still before him he swings himself out into the eternity; and then as if to make the end more terrible the rope broke and his body burst and his very bowels gushed forth. Oh, if it be true that the way of the transgressor is hard, in the name of God what shall we say of the end?
Third : I would like to imagine another picture. What if instead of going out to the scene of his disgraceful death he had waited until after Jesus had risen? What if he had tarried behind some one of those great trees near the city along the way which he should walk, or, possibly on the Emmaus way? What if he had hidden behind some great rock and simply waited? While it is true that he must have trembled as he waited, what if after it all he had simply thrown himself on the mercy of Jesus and had said to him, ” Master, I have from the first been untrue; for thirty pieces of silver I sold thee and with these lips I betrayed thee with a kiss ; but Jesus, thou Son of David, have mercy upon me”? There would have been written in the New Testament Scriptures the most beautiful story that the inspired book contains. Nothing could have been so wonderful as the spirit of him who is able to save to the uttermost, and who never turned away from any seeking sinner, and he would, I am sure, have taken Judas in his very arms; he, too, might have given him a kiss, not of betrayal, but of the sign of his complete forgiveness, and Judas might have shone to-day in the city of God as shines Joseph of Arimathaea, Paul the Apostle, Peter the Preacher, The saddest story I know is the story of Judas, for it is the account of a man who resisted the grace of God and must regret it through eternity.
J Wilbur Champan, “And Judas”, Evangelistic Sermons
I once saw a dramatic presentation of the passion week that made Judas out to be a disgruntled, angry guy on Palm Sunday. Upset at Jesus getting praise. I think that Judas was a bit too cartoony, a too-easily dismissed caricature. Chapman makes him to be more evil, more tragic.
John Wilbur Chapman, according to Wikipedia, was a late 19th century, American, Presbyterian evangelist. When I was searching for the word burst, I ran across hundreds of references to “burst into tears”, and people “bursting forth” when they would open their mouth or enter a room. Here is a deeply tragic “burst”.
Judas experienced an awful death as he attempted one form of suicide but was denied even that, as his body fell apart, or burst. He could not be his own executioner.
Chapman explains the beauty of the Gospel by explaining how wonderful would have been his waiting and receiving a free pardon from Jesus.
PRAYER: Dear Lord, save us from the pettiness of Judas. Let us have the patience to see your work done in your way. Warm our hearts with the knowledge that a free gift of salvation would have even been available for someone such as Judas. Amen.