Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Replacing Judas

Acts 1:12-26

Judas is one of the most disturbing figures in scripture. How can a man who walked alongside Jesus Himself go so wrong? What was he thinking? We may never know the reasons behind his betrayal, but we can learn from it.

1) Appearances can be deceptive.

“He was one of our number…” –Acts 1:17

When Jesus named his betrayer, did you notice that no one said, "It's Judas, isn't it?" No, they "stared at one another, at a loss to know which of them he meant." (John 13:22) They went around the table, one by one: is it me? (Matthew 26:22) He really did minister alongside them, like Peter said. Judas shocked everyone when he sold out his master.

· This is why we are told not to judge. The apparently holy may fall, and the scum of the earth may repent. Jesus alone knew what was coming. Likewise, God knows us, what we're capable of, and what he wants from us. (1 Sam. 16:6-7)

· This is why we need accountability in our beliefs and our actions. If we are not honest with one another about our inner thoughts, they can consume us. Whatever Judas' reasoning, we can be sure that his perspective was corrupted. Do you have a small group or accountability partner? Do you come to church regularly? Do you inspect yourself in the Word?

2) Following God means truly submitting to God.

“…and shared in this ministry.” –Acts 1:17

Judas not only walked with Jesus, but shared in His ministry. He witnessed, and perhaps even performed, miracles. He heard and saw the same things the other apostles did. When we hear the accounts of the apostles going out to preach and perform miracles, it doesn't say "except Judas." (Matthew 10:1) In the end, though, his agenda was more important to him. He tried to force his will on Jesus.

· This is why Jesus spent so much time describing the heart behind the Law. God's will is to connect us to Himself through Jesus. (Matt. 7:21-23) His goal is to re-create His heart in us. If Judas had that heart within him, could he have sold Jesus out?

3) Our choices can limit God's options.

“…this apostolic ministry, which Judas left…” –Acts 1:25

What would have happened if Judas hadn't killed himself? Now, we can only speculate. Note that it is Peter who takes the lead in finding Judas' replacement. Peter, who had denied knowing Jesus in order to protect himself, but was forgiven and reinstated in the end (John 21:15-19).

· Do we take choices out of God's hands in our own lives? Ignoring the Spirit's leadings and God's commands minimize or negate opportunities for God to do His work.

· What causes us to lose hope? The cross is bigger. Nothing can separate us from the love of God. (Rom. 8:38-39) Do we believe that?

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