“A Kingdom divided cannot stand.” This was Jesus’ answer when accused of delivering demons by the power of Satan (Matthew 12:24). In other words, it would make no sense for the devil to send out one of his soldiers to undo the work of another one of his soldiers. This would destroy the kingdom. So then, when we see Jesus call the twelve together giving them power and authority to deliver demons, heal diseases, and to proclaim the Gospel (Luke 9:1), based on His ‘kingdom divided’ principle, Jesus would not have given this power and authority to someone on the other side. This means that Judas must have been in Jesus’ eyes a sincere follower. Many have declared that Judas was born for the very purpose of betraying Christ damned to Hell for all eternity. Yet, even this would go against our understanding of God. Would God who is all love create a person for the sole purpose of being damned to Hell? Of course not, this would violate John 3:16 that says ‘whosoever believes.’ This means the Gospel was made available to anyone including Judas. And at some point that Judas was given this power and authority, he had to be a believer. Otherwise, Jesus just sent out with His approval and anointing a man who unholy motives and an impure heart. But Jesus would not divide His Kingdom. Judas fell away. He fell from grace. He believed, then turned. How can someone be so near to Christ anointed to do miracles and deliver demons suddenly turn and betray Jesus? It is a slow process followed by a sudden leap.
Looking at Judas, we don’t know much. After he is chosen from among the many disciples to be one of the twelve apostles, we don’t know much until he is having dinner with Mary and Martha just after Jesus has raised Lazarus from the dead. Mary, filled with gratitude, comes in with some very expensive perfume and pours it on Jesus’ feet (John 12). Then she lets down her hair and begins to wipe His feet with her hair. Judas can’t stand it. He raises his voice, “Why wasn’t this perfume sold and given to the poor?” And we take a glimpse into Judas’ heart as he is falling away.
Judas must have thought very highly of himself to speak up like this. He was comfortable enough to chastise Mary directly and Jesus indirectly. He felt justified. He had abandoned the role of follower, student, subject and took the role of adviser, supervisor, educator. He was educating Jesus on how best this perfume could have been used. Have you ever become so comfortable with an authority figure in your life that you said something you shouldn’t? Maybe you talked back to your parents. You disrespected your husband. You gossiped about the preacher. You rebelled against God. You rejected the King.
Judas was not ignorant of who Jesus was. He had spent years with Jesus, listening to every message and witnessing every miracle. He knew who Jesus was. Judas had become comfortable with Jesus enough to chastise him, not because his understanding of Christ diminished, but because he believed himself to be higher than others, equal with Christ.
He looked down on Mary. Can you imagine? She had just lost her brother. She had been emotionally distraught. She knew Jesus could have healed Lazarus before he died, but Jesus did not come quickly enough. Her brother died. They had the funeral. She saw the body. It was real. When Jesus arrived, she was in deep mourning for her brother. But then Jesus called out to Lazarus who came alive. It is easy to see why she was so grateful and why she wanted to honor Jesus to this level. But Judas acted like it was nothing. There was no thought in his mind that he should honor Jesus. He had forgotten. He had forgotten where he was when Jesus found him. He had forgotten the sins that had been forgiven.
Those who have forgotten what God has done for them tend to criticize those who do remember all He has done for them.
And Judas, by putting Mary down, elevated himself that he became too comfortable with Christ. I can see Mary look up at Judas when he says this. But she doesn’t stop. She thinks to herself, “You don’t understand. You don’t know what he has done for me. You don’t know how much it means to me. I am not going to stop. I am going to honor Him, praise Him, worship Him. I am going to wash his feet, then I am going to dance and shout.”
Some people want to elevate themselves by putting us down, but we have got to have that attitude. “You have no idea what the Lord has brought me through. I was hopeless, but He chose me. I was angry and He soothed me. I was deceitful, and He showed me the truth. I was destined to Hell, but now I have a home in Heaven so you go on and stand there dignified but I am going to praise Him with a shout of praise and I don’t care who hears it!
Judas’ criticism just happed to highlight his own ministry. He was the treasurer. All of them had to come to him. “Can we afford this hotel room?” “Do we have enough money to give some to this widow. Judas was the man. All apostles came to him for those very important questions and he reasoned it out. This had also contributed to Judas thinking of himself more highly than he ought to.
When we focus on our own kingdom efforts, we will fall away.
When we criticize others and put them down while at the same time puffing ourselves up, that slow process has begun. We will awake one day to realize that we have drifted so far from our Lord. But as Judas was falling away, Mary was sticking to Jesus, holding strong in His presence. Nothing would move her. And what was the difference? Mary was remembering what Jesus had done for her. Judas had forgotten.
All of the forces of evil work against us every day trying to get us discouraged, bitter, angry, depressed, suicidal. We know this. The enemy is doing anything and everything within his power to get us to separate ourselves from Christ as Judas did. He may be trying to kill our spirit with tragedy or get us to puff ourselves up with confidence, but both cause us to fall away from our Lord. We must never forget all that He has done for us. If you want to stay near to the Lord; never forget what He has brought you through. Never forget what you would have been; where your life would have ended up if Jesus hadn’t found you and brought you out of the darkness into His glorious light. These memories renew our love for Him. They set Him upon the throne of our heart and fill our heart with humility. These thoughts guard our hearts from the traps of the devil to deceive us into that slow process. Count your many blessings and name them one by one. Never forget the miracles He has done on your behalf. Stick to His presence. Worship Him without apology for all that He has done. Exalt Him as King and your heart will be guarded.
Take a moment and remember all that God has done. You may have great problems right now, but if you will allow your mind to move away from the stress, you can remember the good things God has done. He will give you power to help you do this. You will be drawn near to Him as you give thanks for all He has done. And I hope you will find strength and hope in His presence.
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