Wednesday, April 2, 2014

THE FAUX DISCIPLE (Luke Chapter 22)

Luke 22:21-23, “’But behold, the hand of him who betrays me is with me on the table. For the Son of Man goes as it has been determined, but woe to that man by whom he is betrayed!’ And they began to question one another, which of them it could be who was going to do this.”

I recently heard a news story about an art forger who made millions of dollars by painting and selling fake duplicates of expensive works of art.  His forgeries were so authentic looking that no one could tell that they were frauds.  He was finally “found out” by a forensic art detective when he mistakenly used a paint that was not available in the time period of the painting he had forged.  His paintings were near perfect, but were nonetheless faux representations.

Judas was a faux disciple.  That was true of him though he was a privileged recipient of unique spiritual advantages.  Judas walked with Jesus.  Judas saw Jesus do things that no man had ever done.  He heard Him speak as no man had ever spoke.  Jesus’ words worked to calm storms and raise the dead, but they did not work to move Judas’ heart.  Never before had any man had a better set of friends.  Judas enjoyed the blessings associated with union to a unique company of God-chosen men partnered together in a glorious enterprise.  Despite all of these special privileges Judas was not and was never a true disciple.  He serves as a reminder to all of the hazards associated with mere external religion.  Jesus warned, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of the Father who is in heaven.  On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’  And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness’ (Matthew 7:21-23).”  Religious profession and practice are of no value if unaccompanied by religious possession.  Judas had religion, but he did not possess salvation in Christ.

Judas was a faux disciples and the rest of the disciples were unaware of it.  Judas played the part of a true disciple.  He spoke “disciple words” and did “disciple things.”  He accompanied Jesus and the others and was with them day and night day-after-day.  They were with him and saw in him nothing that would set him apart as a phony.  He was a chameleon.  He blended in.  He feigned interest.  He mimicked what the others were doing.  Jesus warned of His betrayal, the disciples questioned one another as to whom it would be.  Satan had already entered Judas’ heart.  He had already met with the chief priests and officers (Luke 22:3-6).  He knew who the betrayer was, but he remained silent.

Jesus knew the truth about Judas.  He who knows what is in a man, knew what was in Judas’ heart (Cf. John 2:25).  Judas did betray his Master just as Jesus had warned.  After Jesus’ arrest he felt remorse and sought to return the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders (Matthew 27:3).  Then he went and hung himself (Matthew 27:5).  Jesus had said of Judas, “It would have been better for that man if he had not been born" (Matthew 26:24).  It’s hard to imagine a more horrible epitaph!

Judas’ example serves to remind us of an important truth—religious profession and practice alone are no guarantee with respect to a person’s salvation.  A person can grow up in a Christian home, attend church, hear Christian teaching and do Christian things.  They can be baptized and even share with others in communion.  They can do all these things and yet remain unsaved.  A person must be born again as a result of receiving Jesus by faith (John 1:12).  Anything else or less is to no avail.  The question is not whether a person has associated himself with Christians, or heard or done Christian things.  The question is does that person possess a personal relationship with Jesus (Cf. 2 Corinthians 13:5; 1 John 5:11-12).  The other disciples were far from perfect.  All fled as Jesus’ arrest.  Peter denied Jesus three times.  But they belonged to Jesus was were kept by Him, “none of them (was) lost except the son of destruction” (John 17:12).  How blessed are those who enter into relationship with Him by faith!

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