Tag Archives: Judas

Guard Your Heart – What it does Not Mean!

If you have attended church for any considerable amount of time, you have probably come across the statement ‘guard your heart’.  

If you tell me that it means we are to guard our hearts away from people who may hurt us, then I beg to differ. Jesus certainly did not adhere to that interpretation in that He chose to have fellowship with a traitor called Judas and in that all twelve disciples betrayed Him by scattering after His arrest. If Jesus was trying to guard Himself from hurt, He would not have chosen any disciples to follow Him. If He was so worried about being hurt and looked for perfection, He would not have found it and He would have had to go it alone. If He had gone it alone, then there would have been no one to give the Great Commission! Hence, no disciples = no believers today.

Light-bulb moment: When we guard our hearts away from hurt and so block people away, we open our heart to being alone, being depressed, and missing out on God’s best.

See, Jesus was not looking for the perfect heart (a heart that would not hurt Him) but was looking for hearts open to chasing after perfection. He understood that since only God’s heart is perfect, some level of hurt is inevitable when dealing with man!

Like Jesus, we need to make our peace with that right now. If we are dealing with man, we are likely to be hurt to some degree whether the person meant to do it or not. But most people I know do not desire to hurt people. Most people I know hurt people out of weakness rather than out of wickedness! We must know the difference just as Jesus did for Jesus separated Himself from those who had a wicked heart (Pharisees) but did not separate Himself from those who had a weak heart (His disciples, Tax collectors).

Light-bulb moment: Wickedness welcomes evil (falsehood) but weakness simply loses to evil.  

How was Jesus able to stand being hurt by those who had a weak heart? He was able to because He understood that the individual simply lost his/her battle against the forces of darkness they were fighting. He understood that His gripe and anger was not against the individual who did whatever they did to hurt Him, but against the powers and principalities ruling them (Ephesians 6:12).

Now we see why Jesus remained so calm with Judas. Jesus knew that Satan had entered Judas (Luke 22:3) and so Judas’s actions were now being controlled by Satan. While Jesus was no doubt angry at Satan for deceiving and using Judas, He felt sorry for Judas because he was now a puppet under the influence of Satan!

While Satan thought he was using Judas to hurt Jesus, all he did was use Judas to bring to pass the purpose to which Jesus was called! Simply put, Satan cannot thwart your purpose! Only you can by the way you react to His antics! 

We now see why Jesus was able to say ‘forgive them Father for they do not know what they do’ to those who were crucifying Him. He actually felt compassion for them because they were like silly putty in the hand of Satan – they were actually in bondage. All their actions did was further reinforce why He had to set them free through His death.

Forgiveness is easier when you realize the truth that the person who hurt you was being manipulated by a force that used them as an instrument to hurt you. Consider that the way Satan tries to hurt you most is not by the actions of that person but by the way you react to their actions. Satan wants you to respond in prideful unforgiveness. Why? It is because it gives him room to operate in your life. Do not give him that pleasure but forgive just as God has forgiven you.

Now that Jesus has set us free from the power of Satan, Apostle Paul explains that a struggle still goes on between the Spirit and the flesh (Galatians 5:17). See, the moment we allow the flesh to take over our heart is the moment we have missed the mark (sinned). Moreover, the moment we sin is the moment we hurt God! How glad I am that God does not guard His heart away from us when we sin.

Food for Thought: I cannot truly love if I walk around afraid of being hurt

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So Who Killed Jesus Anyway?

At times it is hard not to chuckle when I hear people having a heated discussion about who killed Jesus. Some say it was Pilate that killed Him while others blame the Jews for killing Him. Further still, others blame Judas Iscariot – for he was the one that betrayed Jesus into the hands of the Sanhedrin. So which is it? Is it the Romans (Pilate/soldiers) or the Jews (Judas or the Sanhedrin)?

To address this question, we have to look at the purpose for which Christ came into the world and the reason he was called to this purpose by God. The bible tells us that the purpose for which Christ was born was to redeem mankind from spiritual death through his death on the cross. In other words, he was born for the express purpose of dying. Here is how the author of Hebrew puts it:

Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devilHebrews 2:14

So it is clear that Jesus had to die! Now, a question that can be asked is when did Jesus have to die? Would he have lived longer if someone had not decided to kill Him? That answer is no! Here is why:

Prophet Daniel had already prophesied that 483 years (69 weeks) were going to pass between the time Cyrus was going to release the children of Israel to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem and when the Messiah would die!

Know therefore and understand, That from the going forth of the command to restore and build Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince, There shall be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; The streetshall be built again, and the wall, Even in troublesome times. And after the sixty-two weeks Messiah shall be cut off, but not for Himself – Daniel 9:25 – 26

Fulfill her week, and we will give you this one also for the service which you will serve with me still another seven years. Then Jacob did so and fulfilled her week… – Genesis 29:27 -28

By the time Jesus started his ministry in his 30’s, he only had about 3 years before the 483 years would be up. Since Jesus came to fulfill prophesy and He mentioned that nothing written in the Old Testament books would pass away but be fulfilled (Matthew 5:18), we see that Jesus was determined and obligated to die 3 years after his ministry began.

Note: The 62 weeks or 434 years refers to the end of the period of the Old Testament until the death of Jesus. There were 400 years of silence between the Old Testament days and when angel Gabriel spoke to Mary about her pregnancy; another 9 months until Jesus was born; another 30 years until Jesus was released unto His ministry – the age when a Jew was old enough to be considered a priest. A simple addition (400 + 0.75 + 30) gives us about 431 years. Hence, Jesus’ ministry had to be 3 years long for him to fulfill the prophesy written in the book of Daniel.

So then who really killed Him? In a sense, no one did! He gave himself over willingly to the guards who came to arrest Him. He gave Himself over because his time was fast approaching. Before his time, no one could touch him even when they tried. If His time had not come, He could have easily escaped from their midst as He had done before (Luke 4:29 -30). We know He gave Himself over willingly because of the following passage of scripture:

Jesus therefore, knowing all things that would come upon Him, went forward and said to them, “Whom are you seeking?” They answered Him, “Jesus of Nazareth.” Jesus said to them, “I am He.” And Judas, who betrayed Him, also stood with them. Now when He said to them, “I am He,” they drew back and fell to the ground – John 18:4-6

The key point is that ‘they drew back and fell to the ground’. If you read the entire event, you will find that he had to ask them again. See, the guards did not arrest Jesus but Jesus gave himself over to the guards. Why? It is because his time was at hand to fulfill the will of God.

When we examine why Jesus had to come die in the first place, we see that it was to become sin for us so that we would become the righteousness of God in Him (2 Corinthians 5:21). He had to come because we all fall short of the glory (Romans 3:23) and our righteousness is as filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6). In this sense, we all killed Him.

Food for Thought: Jesus killed himself because of his love for us because we gave him no choice in the matter.

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Secret of Success – Resilience and what it means to be a Judas

There goes Judas resigningWinston Churchill famously described success as the ability to go from failure to failure with no loss in enthusiasm. He described success this way because he understood that the difference between successful people and people who fail is resilience. While successful people fail numerous times but are undeterred and keep going, people who are failures usually fail once, take it to heart, get discouraged and quit. Whereas Churchill may have been drawing on the example of a certain Thomas Edison whom it took over 1000-tries before finally inventing a working light-bulb, we have to look no further than the bible to see how the power of resilience leads to success.

Lightbulb MomentLight-bulb moment: As believers,  the word failure should never be a part of our vocabulary because God who is love (see 1 John 4:8) never fails (see 1 Corinthians 13:8). If we fail, it is because we give up on God and not because God gives up on us.

Lets explore the above statement further.

Peter, the most prominent of Christ’s disciples had an abundance of resilience or “bounce-back-ability”. Previously named Simon (which can be translated as a wavering reed; blown in any direction by the wind), he grew into the rock that Christ used to build the early church. I specifically use the word “grew” because Peter was no rock at the beginning of his voyage with Christ. After all, this was the chap that began to sink because of his lack of faith (see Matthew 14:30), the fellow to whom Jesus said “get thee behind me Satan” (fancy being called Satan); the guy that swore loyalty to Jesus but denied Him three times. And when Peter denied Him, he just did not say “I do not know that guy”, but he denied Him vehemently with an oath, a curse, and a swear (see Matthew 26:72 – 74).

Yet, it was this same Simon that Jesus called Cephas (stone) when He first met him (see John 1:42). Why? Jesus knew Peter had a certain quality and potential (just like all of us) about him. Despite his failings, Peter had the qualities of boldness, courage, and a never say die attitude. We know this because it was this same Peter that had the gall to step out of the boat and into the sea when the rest stayed; he was the one that boldly told Jesus that He would never wash his feet; He was the one that swiftly cut off the ear of a servant when the guards came to take Jesus.Through his actions, Peter tells us the following:

Lightbulb MomentLight-bulb moment: Rather than being namby-pamby believers, we ought to be bold and courageous warriors who take the Kingdom of heaven by force (see Matthew 11:12). Our boldness is in Christ, for we know there is nothing He cannot fix.

What was so impressive about Peter was his ability to forgive himself, pick himself up, and press on after making a mistake or a fool of himself. No matter what happened, Peter maintained a stone like quality – he was unmovable in spirit. Jesus could work with that! Perhaps this is why Jesus called him Cephas when he first met him. All Peter needed was direction, and Jesus gave him that.

Similar to Simon, Saul was a bold and zealous man. Once Jesus got a hold of Saul, He went to work on him so that a zeal that was once applied to persecute the church was re-aligned into zeal to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ. Hallelujah! What a gift Paul became and continues to be to the modern day church.

Lightbulb MomentLight-bulb moment: Christ is able to mold us from Simon to Peter, from Saul to Paul, if we would just allow Him the time and not give up!

A man that did not allow Jesus to mold him but instead gave up was Judas. In a sense, Judas did not do anything that the other disciples did not do. Yes, Judas betrayed Jesus, but so did the other disciples. They betrayed His trust by abandoning Him once He was arrested (see Matthew 26:56) – especially Peter. Note that Judas’s betrayal was a betrayal of trust, for Jesus was hiding from no one but instead taught openly in the synagogues in Jerusalem where His detractors could have taken Him (see Matthew 26:55).

The difference between the disciples (especially Peter) and Judas was that while they bounced back from their betrayal, Judas chose not to bounce back from his. Instead of asking Jesus for forgiveness, he hung himself even before Jesus was ever tried and condemned to the cross. As far as we know, Judas (unlike Peter who failed numerous times but was resilient) failed once and gave up. He saw his failure (betrayal) as too grave and therefore hung himself.

Seriously! After seeing all the miracles that Jesus performed, the least Judas could have done was wait to see if Jesus was actually going to do what He had told the disciples (including Judas) and perform the “Houdini Act” of being resurrected.

“Now while they were staying in Galilee, Jesus said to them, “The Son of Man is about to be betrayed into the hands of men, and they will kill Him, and the third day He will be raised up”…….”

– Matthew 17: 22 – 23

But no! He allowed Satan to convince him there was no way to bounce back from his failure. If Judas had only waited a few more days, he would have experienced the forgiving love of His Savior.

Lightbulb MomentLight-bulb moment: We should never give up and hang our dreams because of our inadequacies and failures but rather, we should wait a few more days and wait for God to show up in our lives and shower His love upon us.

We always have to remember that no matter what we have done, no matter how many times we have failed, nothing can separate us from the love of God. We have to stay resilient and resist the negative jabs of the devil. We have to break up our fallow ground and allow Christ to mold us, and He will bless us in ways we have never imagined!

Food for thought: Just like the disciples, we are all guilty of betraying Jesus. We choose to become Judas when we choose to give up on God

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