Tag Archives: judas iscariot

John MacArthur – Making Worthless Things Valuable

 

“The names of the twelve apostles are these: The first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; and James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax-gatherer; James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon the Zealot, and Judas Iscariot, the one who betrayed Him” (Matt. 10:2-4).

In God’s hands you can be a precious and effective instrument.

The story is told of a great concert violinist who wanted to prove a point, so he rented a music hall and announced that he would play a concert on a $20,000 violin. On concert night the music hall was filled to capacity with music lovers anxious to hear such an expensive instrument played. The violinist stepped onto the stage, gave an exquisite performance, and received a thunderous standing ovation. When the applause subsided, he suddenly threw the violin to the ground, stomped it to pieces, and walked off the stage. The audience gasped, then sat in stunned silence.

Within seconds the stage manager approached the microphone and said, “Ladies and gentlemen, to put you at ease, the violin that was just destroyed was a $20 violin. The master will now return to play the remainder of his concert on the $20,000 instrument.” At the conclusion of his concert he received another standing ovation. Few people could tell the difference between the two violins. His point was obvious: it isn’t the violin that makes the music; it’s the violinist.

The disciples were like $20 violins that Jesus transformed into priceless instruments for His glory. I trust you’ve been encouraged to see how God used them despite their weakness, and I pray you’ve been challenged by their strengths. You may not be dynamic like Peter or zealous like James and Simon, but you can be faithful like Andrew and courageous like Thaddaeus. Remember, God will take the raw material of your life and expose you to the experiences and teachings that will shape you into the servant He wants you to be.

Trust Him to complete what He has begun in you, and commit each day to the goal of becoming a more qualified and effective disciple.

Suggestions for Prayer

Make a list of the character traits you most admire in the disciples. Ask the Lord to increase those traits in your own life.

For Further Study

Read 1 Timothy 1:12-17, noting Paul’s perspective on his own calling.

John MacArthur – The Characteristics of Hypocrisy (Judas Iscariot)

 

The twelve apostles included “Judas Iscariot, the one who betrayed Him” (Matt. 10:4).

Hypocrisy is a spiritual cancer that can devastate lives and destroy ministries.

On a recent trip to New Zealand I learned that sheepherders there use specially trained castrated male sheep to lead other sheep from holding areas into the slaughtering room. Those male sheep are appropriately called “Judas sheep.” That illustrates the commonness with which we associate Judas with deception and death. Pretending to be a friend of Jesus, Judas betrayed him with a kiss and became for all time and eternity the epitome of hypocrisy.

Several characteristics of spiritual hypocrisy are clearly evident in Judas’s life. First, hypocritical people often seem genuinely interested in a noble cause. Judas probably didn’t want the Romans to rule over Israel and he saw in Christ an opportunity to do something about it. He probably had the common misconception that Jesus was immediately going to establish His earthly kingdom and put down Roman oppression.

Second, hypocritical people demonstrate an outward allegiance to Christ. Many of those who followed Jesus in the early stages of His ministry deserted Him along the way (John 6:66). Not Judas. He stayed to the end.

Third, hypocritical people can appear to be holy. When Jesus told the disciples that one of them would betray Him, none of them suspected Judas. Even after Jesus identified Judas as His betrayer, the other disciples still didn’t understand (John 13:27-29). Judas must have put on a very convincing act!

Fourth, hypocritical people are self-centered. Judas didn’t love Christ—He loved himself and joined the disciples because he thought he could gain personal prosperity.

Finally, hypocritical people are deceivers. Judas was a pawn of Satan, whom Jesus described as a liar and the father of lies (John 8:44). Is it any wonder that his whole life was one deception after another?

Judas was an unbeliever, but hypocrisy can also thrive in believers if its telltale signs are ignored. That’s why you must guard your motives carefully, walk in the Spirit each day, and immediately confess even the slightest hint of hypocrisy.

Suggestions for Prayer

Ask God to purify your love for Him and to protect you from the subtle inroads of hypocrisy.

For Further Study

Read John 12:1-8.

  • How did Mary demonstrate her love for Christ?
  • What objection did Judas raise?
  • What was his motive?

John MacArthur – The Priority of Spiritual Unity

 

“The names of the twelve apostles are these: The first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; and James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax-gatherer; James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon the Zealot, and Judas Iscariot, the one who betrayed Him” (Matt. 10:2-4).

Unity in the Spirit is the key to a church’s overall effectiveness.

Unity is a crucial element in the life of the church—especially among its leadership. A unified church can accomplish great things for Christ, but disunity can cripple or destroy it. Even the most orthodox churches aren’t immune to disunity’s subtle attack because it often arises from personality clashes or pride rather than doctrinal issues.

God often brings together in congregations and ministry teams people of vastly different backgrounds and temperaments. That mix produces a variety of skills and ministries but it also produces the potential for disunity and strife. That was certainly true of the disciples, which included an impetuous fisherman like Peter; two passionate and ambitious “sons of thunder” like James and John; an analytical, pragmatic, and pessimistic man like Philip; a racially prejudiced man like Bartholomew; a despised tax collector like Matthew; a political Zealot like Simon; and a traitor like Judas, who was in it only for the money and eventually sold out for thirty pieces of silver.

Imagine the potential for disaster in a group like that! Yet their common purpose transcended their individual differences, and by His grace the Lord accomplished through them what they never could have accomplished on their own. That’s the power of spiritual unity!

As a Christian, you’re part of a select team that is accomplishing the world’s greatest task: finishing the work Jesus began. That requires unity of purpose and effort. Satan will try to sow seeds of discord, but you must do everything possible to heed Paul’s admonition to be “of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, and intent on one purpose” (Phil. 2:2).

Suggestions for Prayer

Pray daily for unity among the leaders and congregation of your church.

For Further Study

Read 1 Corinthians 3:1-9, noting how Paul addressed the issue of disunity in the Corinthian church.

 

John MacArthur – The Master’s Men

 

“The names of the twelve apostles are these: The first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; and James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax-gatherer; James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon the Zealot, and Judas Iscariot, the one who betrayed Him” (Matt. 10:2-4).

God uses unqualified people to accomplish His purposes.

We live in a qualification-conscious society. Almost everything you do requires you to meet someone else’s standards. You must qualify to purchase a home, buy a car, get a credit card, or attend college. In the job market, the most difficult jobs require people with the highest possible qualifications.

Ironically, God uses unqualified people to accomplish the world’s most important task: advancing the kingdom of God. It has always been that way: Adam and Eve plunged the human race into sin. Lot got drunk and committed incest with his own daughters. Abraham doubted God and committed adultery. Jacob deceived his father. Moses was a murderer. David was too, as well as an adulterer. Jonah got upset when God showed mercy to Nineveh. Elijah withstood 850 false priests and prophets, yet fled in terror from one woman—Jezebel. Paul murdered Christians. And the list goes on and on.

The fact is, no one is fully qualified to do God’s work. That’s why He uses unqualified people. Perhaps that truth is most clearly illustrated in the twelve disciples, who had numerous human frailties, different temperaments, different skills, and diverse backgrounds, yet Christ used them to change the world.

This month you will meet the disciples one by one. As you do, I want you to see that they were common men with a very uncommon calling. I also want you to observe the training process Jesus put them through, because it serves as a pattern for our discipleship as well.

I pray you will be challenged by their strengths and encouraged by the way God used them despite their weaknesses and failures. He will use you too as you continue yielding your life to Him.

Suggestions for Prayer; Memorize Luke 6:40. Ask God to make you more like Christ.

For Further Study; Read 2 Timothy 1:3-5, noting the weaknesses Timothy may have struggled with, and how Paul encouraged him. How might Paul’s words apply to you?

Our Daily Bread — Why Me?

 

 

 

Read: Mark 14:10-21
Bible in a Year: Judges 11-12; Luke 6:1-26

 

God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. —Romans 5:8

British pastor Joseph Parker was asked, “Why did Jesus choose Judas to be one of His disciples?” He thought deeply about the question for a while but could not come up with an answer. He said that he kept running into an even more baffling question: “Why did He choose me?”

That’s a question that has been asked throughout the centuries. When people become painfully aware of their sin and are overcome with guilt, they cry out to Jesus for mercy. In joyous wonder they experience the truth that God loves them, that Jesus died for them, and that they are forgiven of all their sins. It’s incomprehensible!

I too have asked, “Why me?” I know that the dark and sinful deeds of my life were motivated by a heart even darker, and yet God loved me! (Rom. 5:8). I was undeserving, wretched, and helpless, yet He opened His arms and His heart to me. I could almost hear Him whisper, “I love you even more than you loved your sin.”

It’s true! I cherished my sin. I protected it. I denied its wrongdoing. Yet God loved me enough to forgive me and set me free.

“Why me?” It’s beyond my understanding. Yet I know He loves me—and He loves you too! —Dave Egner

How wonderful is Your grace, Jesus! It’s greater than all my sin. You’ve taken away my burdens and set my spirit free. Thank You.

How wonderful is Your grace, Jesus! It’s greater than all my sin. You’ve taken away my burdens and set my spirit free. Thank You.

God loves us not because of who we are, but because of who He is.

INSIGHT: There are two apostles named Judas in the New Testament, and the gospel writers Luke and John are careful to distinguish them. Luke states, “Judas the son of James, and Judas Iscariot who also became a traitor” (6:16), and John says, “Judas (not Iscariot)” (14:22).

Greg Laurie – Heart Trouble

 

Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. —John 14:1

Have you ever felt troubled in your heart—agitated, stressed out, or uncertain about tomorrow? Or to put it another way, have you ever driven on a freeway in Southern California?

There is a lot to be afraid of these days, isn’t there? Maybe something has happened to you recently that has turned your world upside down. Maybe you’ve found yourself wondering whether God really is aware of the problems you’re facing right now.

That is exactly how the disciples of Jesus felt. They were downhearted and discouraged. When they were all gathered in the Upper Room for the Passover feast, Jesus told them that one of them was going to betray Him. Then He identified Judas Iscariot as the betrayer. Not only that, but Jesus also said that Simon Peter would deny Him—not once, not twice, but three times. Peter! Could it really be? The whole world turned upside down for these men. And then, worst of all, Jesus began talking about leaving them, about being crucified. Can you blame them for wondering, What in the world is going on here?

Maybe you feel that way. Maybe there is uncertainty in your future. As you survey your fears and concerns today, take a few minutes to consider what Jesus said to His disciples and to us in that tense Upper Room: “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me” (John 14:1). This verse could also be translated, “Let not your heart be agitated or disturbed or thrown into confusion.”

In other words, “Don’t let these things throw you! Put your full trust and faith in Me!” It was good advice for some deeply troubled believers two thousand years ago, and I can tell you right now with complete confidence that it’s the best counsel anyone will give you all day today.

Today’s devotional is an excerpt from Every Day with Jesus by Greg Laurie, 2013

Charles Stanley – A God of Love

Charles Stanley

Ephesians 3:17-19

The Lord does not base His love for us upon our character or achievements. We know this because of God’s promise in John 3:16 and His action in sending Jesus to die in our place (1 John 4:10).

The Savior’s dealings with people show us the depth of God’s love. Judas Iscariot, one of Jesus’ 12 disciples, ministered closely with the Lord for three years but in the end chose to betray Him. Even though He knew what Judas would do, Jesus never rejected him. In love, the one betrayed forgave the betrayer.

In another example, a woman caught in adultery was about to be stoned for her transgression. She was condemned by the religious leaders, but Jesus stepped in to protect her. Then, in love, He commanded her to sin no more (John 8:11).

Next, consider Peter, who loved Jesus and desired to follow Him always. In a moment of weakness, however, he denied even knowing Christ. Though Jesus knew in advance the disciple would do this, His love for the man didn’t waver—a fact He proved by appearing to Peter after the resurrection and giving him a prominent place in the developing church.

Two final examples are Zaccheus, the greedy tax collector who took advantage of his fellow citizens, and the Samaritan woman who, after a string of broken relationships, was involved in an immoral lifestyle. None of this stopped Jesus from approaching both of them and offering His forgiving love.

Through faith in Jesus, everyone—even the worst of sinners—can become a child of God and experience the richness of His love. No one is beyond its reach.

John MacArthur – Making Worthless Things Valuable

John MacArthur

“The names of the twelve apostles are these: The first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; and James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax-gatherer; James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon the Zealot, and Judas Iscariot, the one who betrayed Him” (Matt. 10:2- 4).

The story is told of a great concert violinist who wanted to prove a point, so he rented a music hall and announced that he would play a concert on a $20,000 violin. On concert night the music hall was filled to capacity with music lovers anxious to hear such an expensive instrument played. The violinist stepped onto the stage, gave an exquisite performance, and received a thunderous standing ovation. When the applause subsided, he suddenly threw the violin to the ground, stomped it to pieces, and walked off the stage. The audience gasped, then sat in stunned silence.

Within seconds the stage manager approached the microphone and said, “Ladies and gentlemen, to put you at ease, the violin that was just destroyed was a $20 violin. The master will now return to play the remainder of his concert on the $20,000 instrument.” At the conclusion of his concert he received another standing ovation. Few people could tell the difference between the two violins. His point was obvious: it isn’t the violin that makes the music; it’s the violinist.

The disciples were like $20 violins that Jesus transformed into priceless instruments for His glory. I trust you’ve been encouraged to see how God used them despite their weakness, and I pray you’ve been challenged by their strengths. You may not be dynamic like Peter or zealous like James and Simon, but you can be faithful like Andrew and courageous like Thaddaeus. Remember, God will take the raw material of your life and expose you to the experiences and teachings that will shape you into the servant He wants you to be.

Trust Him to complete what He has begun in you, and commit each day to the goal of becoming a more qualified and effective disciple.

Suggestions for Prayer: Make a list of the character traits you most admire in the disciples. Ask the Lord to increase those traits in your own life.

For Further Study: Read 1 Timothy 1:12-17, noting Paul’s perspective on his own calling.

John MacArthur – Learning from Judas

John MacArthur

The twelve apostles included “Judas Iscariot, the one who betrayed Him” (Matt. 10:4).

Judas is history’s greatest human tragedy. He had opportunities and privileges known only to the other disciples, but he turned from them to pursue a course of destruction. Yet even from his foolishness we can learn some important lessons.

Judas, for example, is the world’s greatest example of lost opportunity. He ministered for three years with Jesus Himself but was content merely to associate with Him, never submitting to Him in saving faith. Millions of others have followed his example by hearing the gospel and associating with Christians, yet rejecting Christ. Tragically, like Judas, once death comes they too are damned for all eternity.

Judas is also the world’s greatest example of wasted privileges. He could have had the riches of an eternal inheritance but instead chose thirty pieces of silver. In that respect he is also the greatest illustration of the destructiveness and damnation greed can bring. He did an unthinkable thing, yet he has many contemporary counterparts in those who place wealth and pleasure above godliness.

On the positive side, Judas is the world’s greatest illustration of the forbearing, patient love of God. Knowing what Judas would do, Jesus tolerated him for three years. Beyond that, He constantly reached out to him and even called him “friend” after his kiss of betrayal (Matt. 26:50).

If you’ve ever been betrayed by a friend, you know the pain it can bring. But the Lord’s pain was compounded many times over because He knew He would be betrayed and because the consequences were so serious. Yet He endured the pain because He loved Judas and knew that His own betrayal was a necessary part of the redemptive plan.

The sins that destroyed Judas are common sins that you must avoid at all costs! Use every opportunity and privilege God gives you, and never take advantage of His patience.

Suggestions for Prayer:

•             Thank Jesus for the pain he endured at the hands of Judas.

•             Pray that you will never cause Him such pain.

For Further Study:Read 1 Timothy 6:6-19.

•             What perils await those who desire wealth?

•             Rather than pursuing wealth, what should you pursue?

•             What attitude should wealthy people have toward their money?

 

John MacArthur – The Characteristics of Hypocrisy

John MacArthur

The twelve apostles included “Judas Iscariot, the one who betrayed Him” (Matt. 10:4).

On a recent trip to New Zealand I learned that sheepherders there use specially trained castrated male sheep to lead other sheep from holding areas into the slaughtering room. Those male sheep are appropriately called “Judas sheep.” That illustrates the commonness with which we associate Judas with deception and death. Pretending to be a friend of Jesus, Judas betrayed him with a kiss and became for all time and eternity the epitome of hypocrisy.

Several characteristics of spiritual hypocrisy are clearly evident in Judas’s life. First, hypocritical people often seem genuinely interested in a noble cause. Judas probably didn’t want the Romans to rule over Israel and he saw in Christ an opportunity to do something about it. He probably had the common misconception that Jesus was immediately going to establish His earthly kingdom and put down Roman oppression.

Second, hypocritical people demonstrate an outward allegiance to Christ. Many of those who followed Jesus in the early stages of His ministry deserted Him along the way (John 6:66). Not Judas. He stayed to the end.

Third, hypocritical people can appear to be holy. When Jesus told the disciples that one of them would betray Him, none of them suspected Judas. Even after Jesus identified Judas as His betrayer, the other disciples still didn’t understand (John 13:27-29). Judas must have put on a very convincing act!

Fourth, hypocritical people are self-centered. Judas didn’t love Christ–He loved himself and joined the disciples because he thought he could gain personal prosperity.

Finally, hypocritical people are deceivers. Judas was a pawn of Satan, whom Jesus described as a liar and the father of lies (John 8:44). Is it any wonder that his whole life was one deception after another?

Judas was an unbeliever, but hypocrisy can also thrive in believers if its telltale signs are ignored. That’s why you must guard your motives carefully, walk in the Spirit each day, and immediately confess even the slightest hint of hypocrisy.

Suggestions for Prayer: Ask God to purify your love for Him and to protect you from the subtle inroads of hypocrisy.

For Further Study: Read John 12:1-8.

•             How did Mary demonstrate her love for Christ?

•             What objection did Judas raise?

•             What was his motive?

John MacArthur – Jesus Purposely Selects a Traitor

John MacArthur

The twelve apostles included “Judas Iscariot, the one who betrayed Him” (Matt. 10:4).

At one time the little town of Kerioth was a relatively obscure Judean town, but all that changed when it produced the most hated man who ever lived: Judas Iscariot.

The first mention of Judas is here in Matthew’s list of disciples. We have no record of his call, but we know Jesus did call him along with the others, and even gave him authority to minister in miraculous ways (Matt. 10:1). His first name, Judas, is despised today, but it was a common name in the days of Christ. It is the Greek form of Judah–the land of God’s people. Iscariot literally means “a man from the town of Kerioth.”

People commonly ask why Jesus would select such a man to be His disciple. Didn’t He know how things would turn out? Yes He did, and that’s precisely why He chose him. The Old Testament said the Messiah would be betrayed by a familiar friend for thirty pieces of silver, and Jesus knew Judas was that man (John 17:12).

Some people feel sorry for Judas, thinking he was simply misguided or used as some kind of pawn in a supernatural drama over which he had no control. But Judas did what he did by choice. Repeatedly Jesus gave him chances to repent, but he refused. Finally, Satan used him in a diabolical attempt to destroy Jesus and thwart God’s plan of salvation. His attempt failed however, because God can use even a Judas to accomplish His purposes.

Undoubtedly there are people in your life who wish you harm. Don’t be discouraged. They are as much a part of God’s plan for you as those who treat you kindly. You must reach out to them just as Jesus reached out to Judas. God knows what He’s doing. Trust Him and rejoice as you see His purposes accomplished even through your enemies.

Suggestions for Prayer: Praise God for His sovereign control over every circumstance and for the promise that His purposes will never be thwarted.

For Further Study: Read Matthew 26:14-50 and 27:1-10.

•             How did Jesus reveal that it was Judas who would betray Him?

•             What reaction did Judas have when he heard that Jesus had been condemned?

 

John MacArthur – The Priority of Spiritual Unity

John MacArthur

“The names of the twelve apostles are these: The first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; and James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax-gatherer; James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon the Zealot, and Judas Iscariot, the one who betrayed Him” (Matt. 10:2-4).

Unity is a crucial element in the life of the church–especially among its leadership. A unified church can accomplish great things for Christ, but disunity can cripple or destroy it. Even the most orthodox churches aren’t immune to disunity’s subtle attack because it often arises from personality clashes or pride rather than doctrinal issues.

God often brings together in congregations and ministry teams people of vastly different backgrounds and temperaments. That mix produces a variety of skills and ministries but it also produces the potential for disunity and strife. That was certainly true of the disciples, which included an impetuous fisherman like Peter; two passionate and ambitious “sons of thunder” like James and John; an analytical, pragmatic, and pessimistic man like Philip; a racially prejudiced man like Bartholomew; a despised tax collector like Matthew; a political Zealot like Simon; and a traitor like Judas, who was in it only for the money and eventually sold out for thirty pieces of silver.

Imagine the potential for disaster in a group like that! Yet their common purpose transcended their individual differences, and by His grace the Lord accomplished through them what they never could have accomplished on their own. That’s the power of spiritual unity!

As a Christian, you’re part of a select team that is accomplishing the world’s greatest task: finishing the work Jesus began. That requires unity of purpose and effort. Satan will try to sow seeds of discord, but you must do everything possible to heed Paul’s admonition to be “of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, and intent on one purpose” (Phil. 2:2).

Suggestions for Prayer: Pray daily for unity among the leaders and congregation of your church.

For Further Study: Read 1 Corinthians 3:1-9, noting how Paul addressed the issue of disunity in the Corinthian church.

John MacArthur – The Master’s Men

John MacArthur

“The names of the twelve apostles are these: The first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; and James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax-gatherer; James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon the Zealot, and Judas Iscariot, the one who betrayed Him” (Matt. 10:2- 4).

We live in a qualification-conscious society. Almost everything you do requires you to meet someone else’s standards. You must qualify to purchase a home, buy a car, get a credit card, or attend college. In the job market, the most difficult jobs require people with the highest possible qualifications.

Ironically, God uses unqualified people to accomplish the world’s most important task: advancing the kingdom of God. It has always been that way: Adam and Eve plunged the human race into sin. Lot got drunk and committed incest with his own daughters. Abraham doubted God and committed adultery. Jacob deceived his father. Moses was a murderer. David was too, as well as an adulterer. Jonah got upset when God showed mercy to Nineveh. Elijah withstood 850 false priests and prophets, yet fled in terror from one woman–Jezebel. Paul murdered Christians. And the list goes on and on.

The fact is, no one is fully qualified to do God’s work. That’s why He uses unqualified people. Perhaps that truth is most clearly illustrated in the twelve disciples, who had numerous human frailties, different temperaments, different skills, and diverse backgrounds, yet Christ used them to change the world.

This month you will meet the disciples one by one. As you do, I want you to see that they were common men with a very uncommon calling. I also want you to observe the training process Jesus put them through, because it serves as a pattern for our discipleship as well.

I pray you will be challenged by their strengths and encouraged by the way God used them despite their weaknesses and failures. He will use you too as you continue yielding your life to Him.

Suggestions for Prayer: Memorize Luke 6:40. Ask God to make you more like Christ.

For Further Study: Read 2 Timothy 1:3-5, noting the weaknesses Timothy may have struggled with, and how Paul encouraged him. How might Paul’s words apply to you?

John MacArthur – Making Worthless Things Valuable

 

“The names of the twelve apostles are these: The first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; and James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax-gatherer; James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon the Zealot, and Judas Iscariot, the one who betrayed Him” (Matt. 10:2- 4).

Lesson: The story is told of a great concert violinist who wanted to prove a point, so he rented a music hall and announced that he would play a concert on a $20,000 violin. On concert night the music hall was filled to capacity with music lovers anxious to hear such an expensive instrument played. The violinist stepped onto the stage, gave an exquisite performance, and received a thunderous standing ovation. When the applause subsided, he suddenly threw the violin to the ground, stomped it to pieces, and walked off the stage. The audience gasped, then sat in stunned silence.

Within seconds the stage manager approached the microphone and said, “Ladies and gentlemen, to put you at ease, the violin that was just destroyed was a $20 violin. The master will now return to play the remainder of his concert on the $20,000 instrument.” At the conclusion of his concert he received another standing ovation. Few people could tell the difference between the two violins. His point was obvious: it isn’t the violin that makes the music; it’s the violinist.

The disciples were like $20 violins that Jesus transformed into priceless instruments for His glory. I trust you’ve been encouraged to see how God used them despite their weakness, and I pray you’ve been challenged by their strengths. You may not be dynamic like Peter or zealous like James and Simon, but you can be faithful like Andrew and courageous like Thaddaeus. Remember, God will take the raw material of your life and expose you to the experiences and teachings that will shape you into the servant He wants you to be.

Trust Him to complete what He has begun in you, and commit each day to the goal of becoming a more qualified and effective disciple.

Suggestions for Prayer:

Make a list of the character traits you most admire in the disciples. Ask the Lord to increase those traits in your own life.

For Further Study:

Read 1 Timothy 1:12-17, noting Paul’s perspective on his own calling.

John MacArthur – Learning from Judas

 

The twelve apostles included “Judas Iscariot, the one who betrayed Him” (Matt. 10:4).

Lesson: Judas is history’s greatest human tragedy. He had opportunities and privileges known only to the other disciples, but he turned from them to pursue a course of destruction. Yet even from his foolishness we can learn some important lessons.

Judas, for example, is the world’s greatest example of lost opportunity. He ministered for three years with Jesus Himself but was content merely to associate with Him, never submitting to Him in saving faith. Millions of others have followed his example by hearing the gospel and associating with Christians, yet rejecting Christ. Tragically, like Judas, once death comes they too are damned for all eternity.

Judas is also the world’s greatest example of wasted privileges. He could have had the riches of an eternal inheritance but instead chose thirty pieces of silver. In that respect he is also the greatest illustration of the destructiveness and damnation greed can bring. He did an unthinkable thing, yet he has many contemporary counterparts in those who place wealth and pleasure above godliness.

On the positive side, Judas is the world’s greatest illustration of the forbearing, patient love of God. Knowing what Judas would do, Jesus tolerated him for three years. Beyond that, He constantly reached out to him and even called him “friend” after his kiss of betrayal (Matt. 26:50).

If you’ve ever been betrayed by a friend, you know the pain it can bring. But the Lord’s pain was compounded many times over because He knew He would be betrayed and because the consequences were so serious. Yet He endured the pain because He loved Judas and knew that His own betrayal was a necessary part of the redemptive plan.

The sins that destroyed Judas are common sins that you must avoid at all costs! Use every opportunity and privilege God gives you, and never take advantage of His patience.

Suggestions for Prayer:

Thank Jesus for the pain he endured at the hands of Judas.

Pray that you will never cause Him such pain.

For Further Study:

Read 1 Timothy 6:6-19.

What perils await those who desire wealth?

Rather than pursuing wealth, what should you pursue?

What attitude should wealthy people have toward their money?

John MacArthur – The Characteristics of Hypocrisy

 

The twelve apostles included “Judas Iscariot, the one who betrayed Him” (Matt. 10:4).

Lesson: On a recent trip to New Zealand I learned that sheepherders there use specially trained castrated male sheep to lead other sheep from holding areas into the slaughtering room. Those male sheep are appropriately called “Judas sheep.” That illustrates the commonness with which we associate Judas with deception and death. Pretending to be a friend of Jesus, Judas betrayed him with a kiss and became for all time and eternity the epitome of hypocrisy.

Several characteristics of spiritual hypocrisy are clearly evident in Judas’s life. First, hypocritical people often seem genuinely interested in a noble cause. Judas probably didn’t want the Romans to rule over Israel and he saw in Christ an opportunity to do something about it. He probably had the common misconception that Jesus was immediately going to establish His earthly kingdom and put down Roman oppression.

Second, hypocritical people demonstrate an outward allegiance to Christ. Many of those who followed Jesus in the early stages of His ministry deserted Him along the way (John 6:66). Not Judas. He stayed to the end.

Third, hypocritical people can appear to be holy. When Jesus told the disciples that one of them would betray Him, none of them suspected Judas. Even after Jesus identified Judas as His betrayer, the other disciples still didn’t understand (John 13:27-29). Judas must have put on a very convincing act!

Fourth, hypocritical people are self-centered. Judas didn’t love Christ–He loved himself and joined the disciples because he thought he could gain personal prosperity.

Finally, hypocritical people are deceivers. Judas was a pawn of Satan, whom Jesus described as a liar and the father of lies (John 8:44). Is it any wonder that his whole life was one deception after another?

Judas was an unbeliever, but hypocrisy can also thrive in believers if its telltale signs are ignored. That’s why you must guard your motives carefully, walk in the Spirit each day, and immediately confess even the slightest hint of hypocrisy.

Suggestions for Prayer:

Ask God to purify your love for Him and to protect you from the subtle inroads of hypocrisy.

For Further Study:

Read John 12:1-8.

How did Mary demonstrate her love for Christ?

What objection did Judas raise?

What was his motive?

John MacArthur – Jesus Purposely Selects a Traitor

 

The twelve apostles included “Judas Iscariot, the one who betrayed Him” (Matt. 10:4).

Lesson: At one time the little town of Kerioth was a relatively obscure Judean town, but all that changed when it produced the most hated man who ever lived: Judas Iscariot.

The first mention of Judas is here in Matthew’s list of disciples. We have no record of his call, but we know Jesus did call him along with the others, and even gave him authority to minister in miraculous ways (Matt. 10:1). His first name, Judas, is despised today, but it was a common name in the days of Christ. It is the Greek form of Judah– the land of God’s people. Iscariot literally means “a man from the town of Kerioth.”

People commonly ask why Jesus would select such a man to be His disciple. Didn’t He know how things would turn out? Yes He did, and that’s precisely why He chose him. The Old Testament said the Messiah would be betrayed by a familiar friend for thirty pieces of silver, and Jesus knew Judas was that man (John 17:12).

Some people feel sorry for Judas, thinking he was simply misguided or used as some kind of pawn in a supernatural drama over which he had no control. But Judas did what he did by choice. Repeatedly Jesus gave him chances to repent, but he refused. Finally, Satan used him in a diabolical attempt to destroy Jesus and thwart God’s plan of salvation. His attempt failed however, because God can use even a Judas to accomplish His purposes.

Undoubtedly there are people in your life who wish you harm. Don’t be discouraged. They are as much a part of God’s plan for you as those who treat you kindly. You must reach out to them just as Jesus reached out to Judas. God knows what He’s doing. Trust Him and rejoice as you see His purposes accomplished even through your enemies.

Suggestions for Prayer:

Praise God for His sovereign control over every circumstance and for the promise that His purposes will never be thwarted.

For Further Study:

Read Matthew 26:14-50 and 27:1-10.

How did Jesus reveal that it was Judas who would betray Him?

What reaction did Judas have when he heard that Jesus had been condemned?

Charles Spurgeon – Divine sovereignty

“Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own?” Matthew 20:15

Suggested Further Reading: Luke 19:11-27

There is no attribute of God more comforting to his children than the doctrine of divine sovereignty. Under the most adverse circumstances, in the most severe troubles, they believe that sovereignty has ordained their afflictions, that sovereignty overrules them, and that sovereignty will sanctify them all. There is nothing for which the children of God should more earnestly contend than the dominion of their Master over all creation—the Kingship of God over all the works of his own hands—the throne of God, and his right to sit upon that throne. On the other hand, there is no doctrine more hated by unbelievers, no truth which they have kicked about so much, as the great, stupendous, but yet most certain doctrine of the sovereignty of the infinite Jehovah. Men will allow God to be everywhere except on his throne. They will allow him to be in his workshop to fashion worlds and to make stars. They will allow him to be in his treasury to dispense his alms and bestow his bounties. They will allow him to sustain the earth and bear up its pillars, or light the lamps of heaven, or rule the waves of the ever-moving ocean; but when God ascends his throne, his creatures then gnash their teeth; and when we proclaim an enthroned God, and his right to do as he wills with his own, to dispose of his creatures as he thinks well, without consulting them in the matter, then it is that we are ridiculed, and then it is that men turn a deaf ear to us, for God on his throne is not the God they love. They love him anywhere better than they do when he sits with his sceptre in his hand and his crown upon his head.

For meditation: Do you have to think twice before addressing Jesus as Lord? Judas Iscariot could never bring himself to do it—the other disciples could say “Lord” (Matthew 26:22); Judas could only say “Rabbi/Master/Teacher” (Matthew 26:25,49).

Sermon no. 77

4 May (1856)

John MacArthur – The Master’s Men

 

“The names of the twelve apostles are these: The first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; and James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax-gatherer; James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon the Zealot, and Judas Iscariot, the one who betrayed Him” (Matt. 10:2- 4).

We live in a qualification-conscious society. Almost everything you do requires you to meet someone else’s standards. You must qualify to purchase a home, buy a car, get a credit card, or attend college. In the job market, the most difficult jobs require people with the highest possible qualifications.

Ironically, God uses unqualified people to accomplish the world’s most important task: advancing the kingdom of God. It has always been that way: Adam and Eve plunged the human race into sin. Lot got drunk and committed incest with his own daughters. Abraham doubted God and committed adultery. Jacob deceived his father. Moses was a murderer. David was too, as well as an adulterer. Jonah got upset when God showed mercy to Nineveh. Elijah withstood 850 false priests and prophets, yet fled in terror from one woman–Jezebel. Paul murdered Christians. And the list goes on and on.

The fact is, no one is fully qualified to do God’s work. That’s why He uses unqualified people. Perhaps that truth is most clearly illustrated in the twelve disciples, who had numerous human frailties, different temperaments, different skills, and diverse backgrounds, yet Christ used them to change the world.

This month you will meet the disciples one by one. As you do, I want you to see that they were common men with a very uncommon calling. I also want you to observe the training process Jesus put them through, because it serves as a pattern for our discipleship as well.

I pray you will be challenged by their strengths and encouraged by the way God used them despite their weaknesses and failures. He will use you too as you continue yielding your life to Him.

Suggestions for Prayer:

Memorize Luke 6:40. Ask God to make you more like Christ.

For Further Study:

Read 2 Timothy 1:3-5, noting the weaknesses Timothy may have struggled with, and how Paul encouraged him. How might Paul’s words apply to you?