Story by Jim Culhane
Photos by Josh Larson & Tom Price
Mike Focht, assistant pastor at Calvary Chapel Philadelphia, PA, felt the Lord encourage him personally as he prepared his teaching on “Jesus and Judas”.
Acts Chapter 1 shows that Judas was a chosen part of Jesus’ original disciples. He was likely baptized by John the Baptist and joined Jesus’ early ministry. He preached, prayed, and received authority to perform miracles, heal the sick, and cast out demons.
But Judas was never truly a lover or follower of God. John 6:64 tells us that Jesus said, “There are some of you who do not believe.” In verse 70, Jesus answered them, “Did I not choose you, the twelve, and one of you is a devil?” John 13:11 adds, For He knew who would betray Him; therefore He said, “You are not all clean.” Luke 22:3 confirms, Satan entered Judas. So we’re told from Scripture that Judas didn’t believe, he wasn’t of God, and he wasn’t clean. Jesus was not his Lord; he was possessed by Satan.
Yet Jesus allowed Judas to be there. Jesus allows Judases to exist beyond our spiritual perception, that we would be unable to recognize them. Jesus knew who Judas Iscariot was, but the disciples didn’t. Jesus could have disclosed Judas to them at any moment, but He knew that individuals like this would exist. So He wanted, on purpose, this man to be near him. There’s always going to be a Judas somewhere in the vicinity of Christ’s followers and His work.
We can’t feel guilty that we don’t always recognize this person. They know how to play the game. Judases portray as an angel of light. Apostates even in our day speak very well of the Church. Mike says, “Through much prayer and meditation they’ve come to a different understanding of human nature or what might be true or love.”
As good stewards, we’re responsible for what we know, but there are things we can’t know. We have to trust Jesus and say, “Jesus, You have this under control.”
The Matthew Henry Commentary states, “Judas Iscariot is always named last, and with that black brand upon his name, who also betrayed him; which intimates that from the first, Christ knew what a wretch he was, that he had a devil and would prove a traitor; yet Christ took him among the apostles that it might not be a surprise and discouragement to his church if, at any time the vilest scandals should break out in the best societies. … But there is a day of discovery and separation coming, when hypocrites shall be unmasked and discarded.”
John 12:4b-6 says, Judas Iscariot … said, “Why was this fragrant oil not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?” This he said, not that he cared for the poor, but because he was a thief, and had the money box; and he used to take what was put in it.
Jesus is teaching us not to fear Judas’ negative influence. Here, Mary in Bethany was worshiping Jesus by anointing Him with expensive oil. Judas complains about it, calling pure worship of Jesus a waste. Yet Jesus allows Judas not only to exert this negative influence but even puts the money box in his hand.
John 13:2 says, And supper being ended, the devil having already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray Him. Matthew 26:47-50 adds, And while He was still speaking, behold, Judas, one of the twelve, with a great multitude with swords and clubs, … went up to Jesus and said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” and kissed Him. But Jesus said to him, “Friend, why have you come?”
Jesus teaches us that it’s good to love Judas as a friend despite his treacherous heart. It’s easy to feel like our kindness toward someone who turns out to be an enemy of the cross was a waste, but Jesus does not. It’s not a sin to serve with, break bread with, live with, trust with money, accept and embrace and kiss, and even wash the feet of the “Judas”. It’s Christ-like. But we must not allow the revelation of Judas’s presence to break our fellowship and cause us to be unfairly suspicious of one another.
The actions of Judas had to have reverberated in the early Church. People must have questioned whether Jesus was a prophet if His own disciple was stealing money from Him and betrayed Him. Charles Spurgeon said, “Remember that the world looked upon Judas as colleague and partner with our Lord.”
Matthew 27:3-5 tells us, Then Judas, His betrayer, seeing that He had been condemned, was remorseful and … threw down the [thirty] pieces of silver in the temple and departed, and went and hanged himself.
Jesus is teaching us to leave Judas’ judgment to Him. He didn’t leave the mess of Judas for His disciples to sort out. Notice that Jesus doesn’t rebuke the disciples for not embracing Judas enough or understanding him, or reaching out to him, or tell them that Judas’s blood was on their heads because they didn’t show him enough grace. You would think that if anybody would have saved Judas, it would have been Jesus.
If Jesus does not save and restore Judas, we dare not try. Mike admitted, “Some of these things are beyond me, and I give place when a Judas has done us wrong. Our wrath gives place to Jesus’s wrath.” Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord (Romans 12:19). Nobody’s getting away with anything.
In Acts 1:15-25, the disciples have decided that they are going to fill Judas’ place. Mike summed up: “Judas will be replaced, and ministry will go on; and Judas’ worst work doesn’t stop [Jesus], that He’s won. So, I hope that can be encouraging to you.”
Watch Pastor Mike’s teaching in its entirety at: Mike Focht, CCA West Coast Pastors & Leaders Conference
In mid-September, 1,100+ pastors, leaders and their wives gathered at the 2022 Calvary Chapel Association (CCA) West Coast Pastors & Leaders Conference at CC Golden Springs, CA, for refreshing in the face of increasing ministry challenges.
Over the coming months, Calvary Chapel Magazine will present summaries of the conference teachings by presenting pastors. Our desire is that these inspiring messages will encourage and bless all believers.
Follow summaries of pastors’ teachings at the CCA West Coast Pastors & Leaders Conference:
• Garid Beeler, Your Labor is Not in Vain
Senior pastor of VISION City Church in Irvine, CA
• Josh Lawrence, Resting in the Power of God
Senior pastor of Calvary Chapel Eldoret, Kenya
• Dale Goddard, We Are One in Jesus Christ
Assistant pastor at Calvary Chapel Golden Springs, CA
• Don McClure, A Tale of Two Kings: Wisdom vs the Heart
Leader of Calvary Way Ministries and Calvary Chapel Association Administrator
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