Submission and Obedience


What are you hiding? Do you do something in secret that you don't want anyone else to know about?

Judas did! John 12:6 tells us: "Now he (Judas) said this, not because he was concerned about the poor, but because he was a thief, and as he had the money box, he used to pilfer what was put into it."

The backstory to that statement is that Jesus' twelve apostles traveled with Him, watching and helping with His ministry. Judas was one of the twelve. They saw Him restore vision to blind eyes, straighten lame and crooked limbs, open deaf ears and free those who were demon possessed. They also listened when Jesus taught the croweds about the kingdom of God and the truth about Himself.

As they walked together from place to place, Jesus certainly taught His apostles, too. He must have used the Torah, the first five books of the Old Testament, as the foundation for explaining Passover and the other Jewish feasts that commemorated Him. What a Teacher He was!

While we like to hear an anointed minister preach and teach powerfully, imagine what it would have been like to sit under the words of Jesus Himself! The twelve were privileged! Jesus taught and trained them for the work that lay ahead of them, though at the time they couldn't fathom its magnitude.

Early in His ministry, Jesus commissioned 70 men including His apostles to go through Israel and heal the sick, raise the dead and even cast demons from possessed people. Judas was among those Jesus sent, and he saw miracles happen even from his own commands.

Yet, during all that selective process of training, Judas remained a thief! How could that be? How could he listen day after day to what Jesus said without being changed? How could he see the miracles Jesus performed and not be different himself? How could he not be humbled as he saw people healed or delivered from demons when he himself was the one who ministered to them?

But let's bring the question down to this present moment? How can people sit in church or in revival services where the truth of God's word is preached with power and not be moved? How can they enjoy the company of true Christians and not want to become one with them in the depths of their heart?

John says of Jesus that He is the Light that lights every person who comes into the world. That means time after time in every person's life come occasions when the Holy Spirit tries to win their heart to Himself through repentance, but without success. Time and again during the three and a half years Judas walked with Jesus, he had the opportunity to repent and change, but John says he was a thief. When Jesus looked at him, why didn't His piercing gaze rivet Judas' heart? Wasn't he convicted of his sin to repent? Apparently not.

Did the other apostles know Judas was a thief? Probably not. Jesus didn't expose Judas' sin. The other eleven in their group trusted and loved Judas. Jesus did. Judas was one with them...or so they thought. They were a tight-knit team.

If Jesus would have accused Judas of thievery, he probably would have denied it. Because Jesus could not have shown evidence of Judas' pilfering of the money bag, the other apostles might have lost their trust and faith in Jesus for what they considered a false accusation, and, instead, they would have taken Judas' side!

In His parable of the wheat and tares in Matthew 13, Jesus said not to weed out the tares for fear the roots of the wheat would be disturbed and die in the process. Jesus loved His mens' souls more than He wanted to protect His own life, though He knew Judas would betray Him farther down the road.

Judas is the one who should have confessed his own thievery himself. After all, he sinned not just against Jesus, but against the whole group. Each of them had left all to follow Jesus. They were equally dependent on the money bag for meals, perhaps lodging along the road, and for other necessary expenses. Yet Judas helped himself to more than his share without asking or telling anyone.

Did his heart condemn him? Did he cower in guilt? Evidently not. This says something tender about Jesus. He never condemned Judas before the rest of the group nor in private. He just kept loving him as He did the rest of the men. That very love and kindness did not draw Judas to repentance. Instead, he used it as a cover for his secret.

Judas presumed on Jesus. As long as Jesus didn't accuse him of theft or even let Judas know that He knew, Judas rationalized that he could get away with it. After all, Jesus could produce money or whatever else He needed as He wished. It was a relatively small offense to take money from the bag, or so Judas thought.

OK. That's the backstory, perhaps embellished a bit. Now let's look more closely at the incident John wrote about in His Gospel, chapter 12. Jesus and the twelve came to the home of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus on their way to Jerusalem. Jesus always found a welcome in their home....and a good meal, too. Martha cooked and served the food. She was a real hostess! Lazarus, as host, ate at the table with the rest of the men.

But Mary...the same Mary who sat at Jesus' feet earlier and listened to Jesus' words while Martha labored in the kitchen...that Mary now took a very expensive jar of very expensive perfume and anointed Jesus' feet with the essence of nard. Its fragrance filled the room as she then wiped Jesus' feet with her hair.

Silence must have filled the house. The apostles were stunned! This was no cheap gift Mary poured on Jesus' feet. Spikenard cost her a pretty penny and so did the alabaster box in which she brought it. What a sacrifice of love. And, yet, to use such expensive oil on Jesus' feet was to them an extravagant waste!

Jesus had already told the apostles they were heading to Jerusalem for the Passover, and He had told them He would die but they didn't get it. Somehow, they were asleep to what Jesus had told them, just as today many professing Christians are in a fog though the signs of the last days are all around them. But that's another story.

John was intimate with Jesus as none of the other men were. He well may have been Jesus' confidante. John knew Judas was a thief and utterly disloyal to Jesus. He tells it like this: "But Judas Iscariot, one of His disciples, who was intending to betray Him, said, 'Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor people?'"

Ah! Judas gave himself away with that question. First, he didn't really care about Jesus and the fact that He was going to die. Had he truly revered Jesus, Judas would have appreciated Mary's act of love along with her. Instead, he railed against her critically!

Second, he revealed how he robbed the money bag. Evidently, as the group traveled on foot, they encountered beggars and poor citizens of the land who were desperate. Jesus undoubtedly gave them alms to provide for their needs. Judas controlled the purse strings and it was easy for him to SAY he gave a certain amount to the poor while pocketing part of it for himself. Thus, he stole from the poor as well as from the group...and he robbed Jesus of glory! He kept up a front of generosity, while secretly coveting money for himself. How and where he spent it the Bible doesn't say.

Matthew's account of the event merely says that the apostles criticized Mary for her extravagance. He shows his true lack of awareness of Judas' on-going thievery, for he did not specify who said what. He didn't suspect Judas at all.

To Judas' preposterous question, Jesus asked the disciples, "Why do you bother the woman? For you always have the poor with you; but you do not always have Me. For when she poured this perfume on My body, she did it to prepare Me for burial."

Again, Jesus served notice of His impending death to His men. However, they were so absorbed with the costliness of Jesus' anointing, they didn't hear what He really said! Distractions keep us from correctly hearing the truth!

Move from this incident to a few nights later when the apostles shared the Passover meal with Jesus in the Upper Room. John's coverage of the evening appears in chapters 13-16, where he again fingers Judas specifically.

While they ate, Jesus quoted from the Old Testament, "Even My close friend in whom I trusted, who ate My bread, has lifted up his heel against Me." Psalm 41:9. After saying it, Jesus felt unsettled and said further: "Truly, truly, I say to you, that one of you will betray Me." None of the men had a clue about what Jesus meant or to whom His statement was directed. So, John asked Him, "Lord, who is it?"

Jesus dipped a piece of bread into the dish of food and handed it to Judas, who took it from His hand. It was then that Satan entered him and the rest is history: In the Garden of Gethsemane Judas planted the fatal kiss of a friend on Jesus' cheek, the kiss of betrayal that took Jesus to Pilate's hall and ultimately to the cross.

Did Judas expect to be the fulfillment of the long-ago Old Testament prophecy? Probably not. He simply thought he could get away with his thievery because even Jesus didn't point it out or accuse him. Little did he know that his cover-up opened the door for Satan to enter him and become the pawn that would assure Jesus' death at the hands of the Romans and religious Jews.

Judas broke two of the Ten Commandments that night. First, he was a thief and coveted more money; hence, he sold Jesus to the priests at the Temple for a mere 30 pieces of silver! Second, he bore false witness against Jesus. His kiss was a lie! He betrayed the One who created him and was to be his savior. But he sold his soul because he covered his covetousness in the Presence of Holiness and opened the door for Satan to possess him and become his stooge instead!

Judas hid his thievery and ended up selling his soul. What is that you're hiding? How long have you sat under good preaching and teaching of God's truth without being honest about your sin? When your conscience has bothered you and interrupted your sleep, why did you roll over and go back to sleep believing you had done a good job of covering your secret? Don't you know your sin will find you out?

Do not be fooled! Just because no one knows what you're doing does not mean that it's insignificant. Keep up your pretense of religiosity and do 'good works' like giving alms to the poor, but know that God does see your lie. You are in danger of going one step too far, a step that will take you to the point of no return or the impossibility of undoing a fatal error that will seal your destiny in hell.

Confess your sin. Humble yourself before God and ask His forgiveness. God doesn't condemn you: your sin does! One day you will stand before Jesus as your King. He will open the books and expose your secret. By then it will be too late! Is it worth selling your soul for? Is hell worth it? Eternity without God? You decide. Judas did, too late!

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Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®
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