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Judas and the Glory of God
“I speak not of you all: I know whom I have chosen: but that the scripture may be fulfilled, He that eateth bread with me hath lifted up his heel against me. Now I tell you before it come, that, when it is come to pass, ye may believe that I am he. Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that receiveth whomsoever I send receiveth me; and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me. When Jesus had thus said, he was troubled in spirit, and testified, and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me. Then the disciples looked one on another, doubting of whom he spake. Now there was leaning on Jesus’ bosom one of his disciples, whom Jesus loved. Simon Peter therefore beckoned to him, that he should ask who it should be of whom he spake. He then lying on Jesus’ breast saith unto him, Lord, who is it? Jesus answered, He it is, to whom I shall give a sop, when I have dipped it. And when he had dipped the sop, he gave it to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon. And after the sop Satan entered into him. Then said Jesus unto him, That thou doest, do quickly. Now no man at the table knew for what intent he spake this unto him. For some of them thought, because Judas had the bag, that Jesus had said unto him, Buy those things that we have need of against the feast; or, that he should give something to the poor. He then having received the sop went immediately out: and it was night. Therefore, when he was gone out, Jesus said, Now is the Son of man glorified, and God is glorified in him.” (John 13:18-31)
John 13 begins with a declaration of God the Holy Spirit, by which he describes the everlasting love of the Lord Jesus Christ for his elect. — “Having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end.” Our Savior’s love for his people is here described as a sovereign, eternal love — “Having loved,” a special, distinguishing love — “Having loved his own,” and a steadfast, unchanging, immutable love — “Having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end!”
Do you remember what our Savior said, in Psalm 109, about this great love of his, which charms our hearts and ravishes our souls? — “They compassed me about also with words of hatred; and fought against me without a cause. For my love they are my adversaries: but I [give myself unto] prayer” (Psalms 109:3-4). The Lord Jesus here declares that the reason for man’s opposition to him and his people is his love for his people. Yes, he declares that men and women everywhere hate God because God loves his people. That is the reason Cain hated his brother Abel and murdered him. Ishmael persecuted Isaac because God loved Isaac. That is why Esau despised Jacob. God loved Jacob and hated Esau. Men and women everywhere hate God because God loves his people. Nothing enrages the heart of man like the fact of God’s free, sovereign, saving love bestowed upon chosen sinners in Christ (Romans 9:4-23).
There are among the fallen sons of Adam only two groups of people: the elect and the reprobate, the seed of Christ and the seed of the serpent, vessels of mercy afore prepared to glory by whom and in whom God makes known the riches of his glory, and vessels of wrath fitted to destruction by whom and in whom God makes his power known. The greatest, most glaring example of those vessels of wrath fitted to destruction is the betrayer of our Lord Jesus, Judas Iscariot.
Election and Predestination
The portion of Holy Scripture before us begins with our Lord Jesus assuring his disciples of their election and the certainty of God’s purpose of grace in sovereign predestination. How I thank God for electing love! How I praise him for absolute predestination! The Savior is about to tell his disciples that one of their number is a devil, a betrayer, a reprobate vessel of wrath; but first he assures them and us that God’s purpose of grace is sure (vv. 18-19). He says, “I know whom I have chosen.” He declares, “The Scripture must be fulfilled, he that eateth bread with me hath lifted up his heel against me” (See Psalm 41:9). Divine prophecy must be fulfilled. The purpose of God must and shall be accomplished.
Our Lord made his reason for telling his disciples exactly what God’s purpose for Judas perfectly clear. He said, “Now I tell you before it come, that, when it is come to pass, ye may believe that I am [he].”
The Lord God our Savior knows whom he has chosen. The purpose of God is sure. God does everything he does to make all men know that he is God, to glorify himself in Christ, and make all men know and confess that the man Christ Jesus is Jehovah God, the “I Am!”
Now, with those assurances given, let us see clearly what God the Holy Spirit here reveals to us about Judas Iscariot, the betrayer. The lessons set before us in the character and conduct of that vile, base, reprobate man are many and alarming. Yet, we are specifically told that the things written here were given by the inspiration of God the Holy Spirit for our consolation (Romans 15:4).
1st. Lost people often enjoy great advantages by which their guilt is aggravated and their condemnation is increased. Certainly that was the case with Judas. Judas Iscariot was given many great advantages over other men. He had the privilege of being in the company of the Lord Jesus Christ almost constantly for nearly three and a half years. He saw all the miracles performed by our Lord Jesus. He heard our Savior’s sermons in public, and the private instructions given just to his disciples. Judas was in the daily habit of conversing with the Son of God, of conversing with that Man “who spake as never man spake.”
Those were great advantages indeed; but Judas enjoyed even greater privileges and advantages. If we consider nothing except what is before us in this chapter, what countless tokens of our Savior’s kindness, goodness, mercy, and grace Judas observed. — The Lord Jesus washed his feet!
When the betrayer again took his seat at the table, the Lamb of God spoke so gently in declaring that one of those sitting at the table with him would betray him, that the Savior’s words would have broken any man’s heart and would have stung any conscience to the quick, except the hard, obstinate heart and seared conscience of Judas Iscariot. Could any arrow of conviction have reached his heart, surely the words spoken by our Redeemer in this chapter and the deeds he performed would have pierced the steel of his soul. But there he sat, hard and unmoved by the most tender words and actions imaginable, hardened with determined guilt.
While all the other Apostles trembled with horrid fear at the bare thought that one of them could do such a thing, that one of them could betray the Master, Judas sat, like a volcano, with all the fire of hellish malice burning within, until the Lord Jesus finally gave him the fatal sop by which the traitor was marked. Then, only then, he withdrew.
Still, the hardness of his heart, the determination with which he pursued his hatred of the Lord Jesus is made manifest in what he did as soon as he left the table. Though it was now night, (O what night, what darkness possessed his soul!), Judas went immediately to Jerusalem, a two mile walk from Bethany. There he made his pact with the chief priests (Matthew 26:14-16).
As he walked by night to perform his dastardly deed, all through that long, solitary walk, it appears that Judas did not have so much as a slight pricking of conscience, not the slightest compunction. In fact, judging by the only records we have (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John), there is no indication that Judas felt or knew even the slightest measure of hesitation for the next two days and nights. There is no indication that his heart was even momentarily softened.
On the contrary, the very next thing we see him doing is taking his place with the Lord Jesus and the other Apostles at the Passover, and actually receiving the Lord’s Supper from the hands of the Lord Jesus Christ, whom he had already agreed to betray, as if a he were a faithful disciple! The Savior washed his feet. The Lord Jesus gave him the bread and wine. Judas joined in the closing hymn!
As all tenderness was lost upon that hardened wretch, so the alarms of judgment had no effect upon him. When Judas daringly led that band of men and officers who came to arrest the Lord Jesus in Gethsemane, and they all fell to the ground when the Lord Jesus asked, “whom seek ye?” and then declared himself to be Jehovah, the “I AM,” when they all fell away backward to the ground, Judas was among them (John 18:2-9).
But neither miracles, nor acts of kindness, nor privileges, nor acts of judgment could penetrate or even affect Judas’ hard heart. Satan completely possessed the man, because the Lord himself had given Satan the possession of him. And the last state of that man was worse than the first (Luke 11:26).
The greatest of opportunities will never convert a sinner. The highest privileges will never give life to a dead sinner. The best of good company cannot save a soul from hell, or even from itself. The best preaching in the world cannot create life and faith in the soul, except it be made effectual by omnipotent grace. Life is God’s gift. Conviction is the Spirit’s work. Faith is by God’s operation. Repentance is God turning the soul to himself. — “Salvation is of the Lord!”
2nd. The only difference between Judas and you, the only difference between Judas and me, the only difference between Judas Iscariot and all the host of God’s elect is the difference God himself has made and makes by his distinguishing grace. Read the history of that reprobate man of whom the Lord Jesus said, “good were it for that man if he had never been born” (Mark 14:21). There is a line of everlasting distinction drawn between the precious and the vile, between the righteous and the wicked, between “him that serveth God, and him that serveth him not” (Malachi 3:18). And that line of distinction, drawn by the finger of God from everlasting, is continually drawn by the finger of God in providence and in grace (1 Corinthians 4:7; 1 Thessalonians 5:9).
Though all God’s elect were ruined in the sin and fall of our father Adam, though all are born with the same depraved nature, both the elect and the reprobate, the Word of God clearly distinguishes the seed of the serpent and the seed of Christ (Jude 4-11).
God’s elect, because we are blessed of God to be in an everlasting union of grace with Christ, are sanctified by God the Father, preserved in Jesus Christ, and called. But Jude tells us that the reprobate were of old ordained to this condemnation. And, as the descendants of Cain, they have run and do run greedily after the error of Balaam and shall perish in the gainsaying of Core.
The Lord Jesus himself declares of all the Judas seed of Adam’s apostate race, “Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do” (John 8:44). The Apostle John makes this same distinction (1 John 3:5-12).
Judas was not merely tempted of the devil, he was a devil; and Satan entered into him and took complete possession of him (John 6:70). Yet, you and I are exactly like Judas. We are in every way as vile, hard, and unrelenting in wickedness and determined evil as he was. Why, then, is Judas an heir of everlasting darkness and torment, while you and I to whom God has given faith in Christ are heirs of light and everlasting blessedness? Only one answer can be found. The Savior says, “I know whom I have chosen!” Oh, thank God for electing love!
“For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Thessalonians 5:9)
“But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth: Whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle. Now our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God, even our Father, which hath loved us, and hath given [us] everlasting consolation and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts, and stablish you in every good word and work.” (2 Thessalonians 2:13-17)
Our Savior assured us that God’s purpose of grace in election and predestination is firm and unalterable. Then we are given a picture of both man’s depravity and God’s distinguishing grace in Judas the betrayer. Now, look at verses 30-31, and rejoice in the fact that even Judas and his horrid betrayal of the Lord Jesus Christ was ordained of God, overruled by God, and used by God our heavenly Father to accomplish our redemption and the glory of God in our redemption by Christ.
“He then having received the sop went immediately out: and it was night. Therefore, when he was gone out, Jesus said, Now is the Son of man glorified, and God is glorified in him.”
The Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of Man, was glorified by the accomplishment of redemption in his death, by Judas betrayal. And the redemption of our souls by the sin-atoning death of our Lord Jesus Christ was and is the glorifying of the triune God.