Judas warned

Judas warned

Mark 14:20-21

20 “It is one of the Twelve,” he replied, “one who dips bread into the bowl with me. 21 The Son of Man will go just as it is written about him. But woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man! It would be better for him if he had not been born.”

If you hate Judas and believe he is rotting in hell then you will read this verse as Jesus condemning him to that fate.

But I don’t hate Judas and I don’t believe he is rotting in hell neither do I think Jesus condemns him there.

There are no doubt arguments for both sides. Some say that because of the translation it looks like Jesus is speaking of the one person, Judas. When others say in the original It can show that Jesus was speaking of 2 men, him and Judas. “It would be better for him (Jesus) if he (Judas) had not been born.”

What do I think this morning?

There are many people who have made such a mess of their life, the decisions they have made have been momentously destructive and have sentenced them to a life in prison (whether they are there literally or not). They have wasted their life. It would seem to them that it would be better if they had not been born. That is the powerful woe on whatever is left of their life.

Why did Jesus say this? Even this is harsh isn’t it?

It is harsh, without the help of Matthew, “Then Judas, the one who would betray him, said, “Surely you don’t mean me, Rabbi?” Jesus answered, “You have said so.” (26:25)

Matthew shows us that the conversation between him and Judas must have been whispered because if the others had heard they would have set upon Judas there and then that is for sure.

Therefore, Jesus in a last hour effort gives Judas the opportunity to repent and stop doing what he had planned to do.

It is like Jesus purposely says to Judas “what you are about to do will bring such sorrow and distress you will wish you had never been born.”

That’s how Judas ended prior to his suicide.

Maybe the Church should warn others not of eternal damnation (we seem good at that) but that there is no depth a man can plummet but it will only bring great sorrow into his life and that today is the day to opt out of that destructive path. There is a way that seems right to man but in the end it leads to death (Proverbs 14:12). It is only a life with Jesus that brings the true purpose for our existence. He makes sense of it all.

Judas

Judas

Mark 14:17-19

17 When evening came, Jesus arrived with the Twelve. 18 While they were reclining at the table eating, he said, “I tell you the truth, one of you will betray me-one who is eating with me.” 19 They were saddened, and one by one they said to him, “Surely not I?”

One by one, so that’s all of them: “surely not I?’ All 12 of them said to Jesus it wouldn’t be them.

• it is hard to accept you are capable of doing the worst of sins.

The truth is they would all desert Jesus, one would deny and of course one would betray.

• It is possible to say you wouldn’t be the one to commit the sin and at the same time be planning to be the one.

Judas looked at the others and at Jesus and was adamant he wasn’t the one when in fact he knew he was.

• Just because Jesus knows doesn’t stop a person committing the sin of betrayal.

You would have thought this was Judas’ opportunity to stop his plan, he didn’t take it.

• Jesus doesn’t expose the betrayer, he arrives with him in the group.

Every one needs to take the journey with you, even the ones who may stab you in your back.

• Jesus shows incredible grace by having the closest of fellowship with the betrayer by eating with him.

Eat with those who don’t follow your plan and path, they will need this grace later.

The Upper room

The Upper room

Mark 14: 13-16

13 So he sent two of his disciples, telling them, “Go into the city, and a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him. 14 Say to the owner of the house he enters, ‘The Teacher asks: Where is my guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’ 15 He will show you a large upper room, furnished and ready. Make preparations for us there. 16 The disciples left, went into the city and found things just as Jesus had told them. So they prepared the Passover.

The Message says it was a spacious second-storey room which had been swept and made ready. TPT says the table was set. The Amplified says dining couches and carpets laid.

We can see the picture. The owner of the house was ready.

He wouldn’t get a place at the table. He wouldn’t even be known by his name.

But he had the vital role of hosting the presence of the real Passover Lamb.

We need to become better hosts of His presence.

The Upper room is where Jesus washed the disciples’ feet demonstrating love.

It is where we see the power and beauty of Jesus’ prayer life (John 17).

It is where the disciples gathered in fear after the death of Jesus.

It is where Jesus appeared to them showing the nail prints.

It is where Jesus breathed on the disciples to receive the Holy Spirit.

The Upper room is where tongues of fire came on their first Pentecost.

But none of this would have happened if the spacious room hadn’t been cleaned and given.

Are we expecting Him coming? Are we getting ready?

Have we created space, our own upper room in our hearts, free of clutter so that we can host Him?

Have we swept out the old habits and cleaned our lives from destructive thoughts and emotions?

I believe churches can still be ideally placed for hosting His presence.

We certainly need a visitation from God.

Let’s get hosting!

Water carriers are included

Water-carriers are included.

Mark 14:13-15

13 So he sent two of his disciples, telling them, “Go into the city, and a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him. 14 Say to the owner of the house he enters, ‘The Teacher asks: Where is my guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’ 15 He will show you a large upper room, furnished and ready. Make preparations for us there.”

How did Jesus know there would be a man carrying a jar of water waiting to meet Peter and John (it is Luke who lets us know the names of the disciples he sent)?

Was Peter and John that well known the man knew who they were and was waiting for them?

Had Jesus met this man beforehand and told him to expect them? Had he organised beforehand with the owner of the house and it was him who sent the water-carrier to meet them?

We don’t know these answers.

What we do know is that on this special day when the Passover lamb was sacrificed a man did something that we might think is just so ordinary that we read right past it. But this man was sticking out like a sore thumb! For this was a woman’s job and this man was humiliated to do such a task!

We don’t know why. But his humiliation caused him to lead the disciples to his owners house in order to prepare the Passover meal. He is humiliated but he makes it into the Passover story.

You may wake today to a life or a work that marginalises you. People may make you feel humiliated. You do your best but it isn’t good enough.

You may wish you didn’t have to do what you do.

But you can be used by Jesus, just like this man did.

Even water-carriers who are breaking cultural norms can be part of the gospel story.

Where? Not there!

Where? Not there!

Mark 14:12-16

‘12 On the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, when it was customary to sacrifice the Passover lamb, Jesus’ disciples asked him, “Where do you want us to go and make preparations for you to eat the Passover?” 13 So he sent two of his disciples, telling them, “Go into the city, and a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him. 14 Say to the owner of the house he enters, ‘The Teacher asks: Where is my guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’ 15 He will show you a large upper room, furnished and ready. Make preparations for us there.” 16 The disciples left, went into the city and found things just as Jesus had told them. So they prepared the Passover.”

Where do you want to have dinner?

A question we all ask at some point of our lives to friends we want to celebrate with.

This was probably the 3rd year of the team being together and the same question is asked.

They know they should make preparations for the dinner, this is customary, but they don’t know where. Or do they?

Some things are obvious, they are unquestionable, they don’t need thinking about. They will celebrate the Passover meal. The problem is there seems to be a dark shadow over the city in front of them. They are carrying all that Jesus has said about what is going to happen to him, they are confused, they don’t properly understand. Here they are staying outside the city and the last place they would think about going into is the one place they are dreading him suggesting. Simply because whenever he has talked about the city it is in the context of danger and destruction.

To have the dinner outside the city was a good thought!

Is there a place you are afraid to go into today?

Uncertainty clouds the path and it is the last place you want to go.

You may need to have conversations and decisions are needing to be made. You may be doing things that are second nature to you, you will be doing the work that is not difficult for you.

However, where is what makes you feel slightly anxious. Anywhere but there!

They are waiting with bated breath.

‘There’, Jesus points, ‘In the city’.

There in your family.

There in your marriage.

There in your workplace.

There in your church.

There where you live.

There across the oceans.

There in a foreign land.

There where you would rather not be or go.

There, make preparations for the celebration of the sacrificial lamb.

There, get ready for our time of reflecting on surrender and submission to the plan of God for your life and for others.

From brokenness to betrayal

From brokenness to betrayal

Mark 14: 10-11

“Then Judas Iscariot, one of the Twelve, went to the chief priests to betray Jesus to them. They were delighted to hear this and promised to give him money. So he watched for an opportunity to hand him over.”

He was in charge of the finances and what he saw just happen pushed him over the edge. A woman had entered the house where they were eating and broke her life savings over Jesus. Worse than that, Jesus seemed to welcome this. Things were getting out of hand and Judas felt convicted to slow the ministry down in fact to end it.

From brokenness to betrayal.

Here is one of the Twelve disciples, a follower, who had seen miracles and transformations of people and was even given authority to be used in this way.

He goes to the chief priests, those appointed to serve around the Most Holy Place in the Temple. In fact one of them, the High Priest, was the only one permitted to enter that sacred space and only one day a year on the Day of Atonement.

Here they are negotiating a deal to betray Jesus who would atone for the sin of the whole world. The irony and sheer blindness.

The chief priests welcome him with open arms. Judas has pleased these holy ministers. They in turn promise him money. He will gain more than he thought.

So Judas from that moment is watching, not now for learning, but for an opportunity to hand Jesus to them quietly. There were scores of people in the city and they wanted this done as quietly as possible.

Lessons from betrayers:

  1. They are totally blind to the hypocrisy of their life. But they are also blind to the fact that God holds the bigger picture, they cannot fool Him.
  2. They will always find people who agree with their betrayal. They may even gain more than they had thought at first. They may thus feel justified.
  3. They plan. Betrayals don’t just happen, they are planned and organised. So careful attention, detail and observation from a follower may actually be a death plan for the mission by a betrayer.

And of course everyone remembers a betrayer!

Look at this again …

v 9-10 “Truly I tell you, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her. Then Judas Iscariot …”

So this woman with her broken alabaster jar is continually preached around the world even 2,000 years later, just as Jesus said.

But so is the betrayer. In fact his name is the most hated name in the world. No one likes a Judas.

He will appear again in our readings over the next few days but it is the other gospel writers that speak of him the most. Matthew writes how Jesus said “My friend, do what you are here for” (26:50) when Judas kisses him. John says that Jesus said “do it quickly” (13:28). This isn’t to defend Judas in the slightest but it doesn’t seem to be condemning him either.

What we all know is that the gospel message is for betrayers, the Judas people of this world, for you and me. When the betrayers become soaked with the gospel message they can become alabaster followers.

From brokenness to betrayal and from betrayers to the broken worshippers of Jesus.

The power of the gospel of Jesus.

 

 

 

Alabaster disciples

Alabaster disciples

Mark 14: 4-9

“Some of those present were saying indignantly to one another, “Why this waste of perfume? It could have been sold for more than a year’s wages and the money given to the poor.” And they rebuked her harshly. “Leave her alone,” said Jesus. “Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them any time you want. But you will not always have me. She did what she could. She poured perfume on my body beforehand to prepare for my burial. Truly I tell you, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.”

The average salary in the UK is £25-27k. So we have some idea of what she was giving to Jesus.

The breaking of her alabaster jar shows us:

  1. She understands the season of sacrifice. There are moments when you have to help the poor and other good causes. But this woman knew Jesus was only here for a short time, this was the right moment. There are seasons when He demands all, when the alabaster jar must be broken. When obedience is not measured by a tithe or a part offering but it is all or nothing. Alabaster people know those seasons.
  2. Her giving benefited not just Jesus but the whole room. Everyone enjoyed the fragrant perfume, even if they were against her doing it. The act of giving impacts further than what we can imagine. In a Church service last week a heap food offering was given by the members. Mountains of food were placed around the altar area of the church. During this act of giving a married couple were so impacted by this that they came forward to surrender their hearts, ‘to get right their own giving’.
  3. Her giving offended others who hadn’t given like this. They were not thinking of the poor. They were not thinking of the largeness of her gift. They were thinking of how small or non-existent theirs was.

My final thought (I think!) on this amazing story is this:

A moment with Jesus. We try and replicate these every week. We gather together and believe Jesus is the centre of all we do. The people who come have all been impacted by Him in some way. We are all disciples and followers of Him. Yet the ones who manage to truly connect with Jesus may not be the obvious. It could be those on the fringe of society, those who have had chequered pasts, those who are overlooked, those who have been forgiven much, those who understand the cross deeply, those who are so moved by his sacrifice they are prepared to break open their future, all that they have, their lives and become broken followers. There are after all 2 types of God-chasers (a term I am trying to dust down and re-introduce!); those who pursue-in-want and those who pursue-in-giving. Alabaster people are the latter, they become broken to give.

Brokenness part 3

Brokenness part 3

Mark 14: 3-9

While he was in Bethany, reclining at the table in the home of Simon the Leper, a woman came with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, made of pure nard. She broke the jar and poured the perfume on his head. Some of those present were saying indignantly to one another, “Why this waste of perfume? It could have been sold for more than a year’s wages and the money given to the poor.” And they rebuked her harshly. “Leave her alone,” said Jesus. “Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them any time you want. But you will not always have me. She did what she could. She poured perfume on my body beforehand to prepare for my burial. Truly I tell you, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.”

 

Broken people carry the cross in their heart; it is easy to see the nail prints and the thorn damage; they walk with a limp; they have been pierced, marked by God.

What else can we say of this kind of brokenness?

  • They change their surroundings with the beauty inside of them.

As soon as the neck of the alabaster jar was broken a strong fragrant perfume burst into the room.

As it ran down the head of Jesus and as it was poured onto his feet the fragrance soaked into his skin.

Perhaps you could still smell the fragrance on Jesus as Jesus kissed him in betrayal, as the soldiers hit him, as he was nailed to the cross.

This woman’s beauty was her love for Jesus.

That’s what the smell spoke.

Mary’s beauty was her gratefulness.

Her selflessness.

Her emotional feelings of devotion.

For her, there was no one else in the room but her and Jesus.

Of course there were others.

But this beauty takes the broken into the most vulnerable of places:

  1. To the place where other good things cry out for attention. There is always another good cause, the family need you, the poor are crying out, this good cause is a must, that promise has to be kept and if you are not distracted to their cry you will be accused. It is a vulnerable place to be in, there will be people challenged and effected negatively by your brokenness. The fragrance is not on everyone, it never was meant to be.
  2. To the security of your future. We always want our future to be secure. She gave away her life.

What is your alabaster jar?

What’s in your alabaster jar?

Will you be broken?

‘She did what she could’ and broke her life before Jesus in honour of his sacrifice.

You are very close to brokenness. There is something we can all do and it involves surrendering it to Jesus.

Can you say this today?

“I did what I could. I gave everything and I stepped into brokenness.”

 

Brokenness part 2

Brokenness part 2

Mark 14: 3-4

“While he was in Bethany, reclining at the table in the home of Simon the Leper, a woman came with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, made of pure nard. She broke the jar and poured the perfume on his head. Some of those present were saying indignantly to one another, “Why this waste of perfume?”

Simon the Leper and Lazarus (told of in Matthew) are having fellowship with Jesus.

They are with Jesus, listening to Jesus, speaking to Jesus, but they do not carry the act of brokenness to Jesus, that was left to a woman.

It is true.

You can come to Jesus. Believe in the Good News. Attend Church and worship with exuberance. You can even become a preacher. And never know brokenness.

The 2 men are named but the woman isn’t. People who are broken don’t worry about their names being known.

The followers of George Whitfield wanted to form an organisation. His reply was, “No, let the name of Whitfield die, so that the cause of Jesus Christ may live. Let the name of Whitfield perish, but Christ be glorified. I have had enough popularity to be sick.”

The 2 men are having fellowship with Jesus, but this isn’t brokenness.

Over the years we have sung songs to Jesus:

We have gone down the mountain, swam in the river, been breathed on by the wind, had our hearts stirred, our minds renewed, laid down at his feet, raised our banners, danced our feet, we’ve even jumped for Jesus! It’s been wonderful, it still is, but it isn’t brokenness.

So brokenness is …

  1. Carrying the cross of Christ in your heart.

The disciples were there, they knew Christ, knew his power, his miracles, his teaching. Lazarus, Simon and Martha … but only this woman knew he would die. Only this woman was carrying the burden of the cross.

Jesus would go to the cross for all the people in that house that evening.

But only this woman broke open her alabaster jar to anoint him (culturally this was the norm for a dead person). If this woman was Mary, the sister of Lazarus, then maybe she had kept the perfume for him but Jesus had raised Lazarus from the grave, so she knew who to keep it for, Jesus.

There are not 2 Christ’s, an easy one and a suffering one. There is only one.

Brokenness means you have laid your life on the altar, the place of sacrifice and have literally given up everything for Christ, you have made Him Lord of all and you are consumed by his death for your sin.

Maybe today is your day of brokenness.

 

Brokenness part 1

Brokenness part 1

Mark 14: 3-9

While he was in Bethany, reclining at the table in the home of Simon the Leper, a woman came with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, made of pure nard. She broke the jar and poured the perfume on his head. Some of those present were saying indignantly to one another, “Why this waste of perfume? It could have been sold for more than a year’s wages and the money given to the poor.” And they rebuked her harshly. “Leave her alone,” said Jesus. “Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them any time you want. But you will not always have me. She did what she could. She poured perfume on my body beforehand to prepare for my burial. Truly I tell you, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.”

Miracles are found in brokenness. Worship is brokenness.

Psalm 51:17 “My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, O God, you will not despise.”

David has come through a nightmare of facing up to his sins. He will never be the same again. He is broken. His pride and arrogance have gone. He realises that the worship that God accepts is that of a person who is broken. This is not a brokenness because of sickness or trauma, this is broken because the person realises the cost of their forgiveness and the pain of their sin. This is worship. This for David is a remarkable shift for a man who was so lavish in the use of sacrifices to God. On the return of the ark of the covenant he sacrificed every 6 steps the priests took in carrying it. David in his lifetime literally sacrificed thousands and thousands as worship to God.

Now he realises God only accepts worship is from a broken spirit.

A professional Christian is someone who has lost such brokenness.

A Church can lost its brokenness and keep what looks like worship.

“Awesome music, Awesome preaching in an Awesome house.”

Recently I heard that a Christian band were leading thousands of young people in worship. Then in the altar call they invited young people to make Jesus their best mate and come to the big party in heaven. There was no suggestion that before they made Jesus their best mate they need to apologise to him for being his worst enemy.

This morning I have spent some time reading the story of Evan Roberts and in contrast to the ministry to those young people from the music band, in 1904 God found this young 26 yr old preparing himself for ministry, a humble coal miner in Wales. After hearing an evangelist pray ‘bend us’ the words became etched in his mind.

“I fell on my knees with my arms over the seat in front of me, my face bathed in perspiration and the tears flowing in streams, so that I thought it must be blood gushing forth. For about 2 minutes it was terrible. I cried “Bend me! Bend me! Bend us!”

“It was God commending His love which bent me, while I saw nothing in it to commend.”

“Then the fearful bending of the judgment day came to my mind and I was filled with compassion for those who must bend at the judgment, and I wept.”

In less than 6 months this young man was responsible in the leading of over 100,000 people to Christ.

You can see what is occupying my mind this morning, it is brokenness.

Jesus had entered this home in Bethany, he had been welcomed. But welcoming Jesus is not the same as brokenness. When a woman came into the meal, she broke her very expensive jar of perfume and poured it on Jesus’ head.

This is the home of Simon the Leper, who had presumably been healed of his leprosy by Jesus earlier. Also at the dinner according to John is Lazarus, again someone who had been raised from the dead only 4 days previously. Two men with an amazing testimony.

How many people over the years do you know who have been touched by Jesus and received their healing or some other blessing? Did it truly change them?

Welcoming Jesus and even having a testimony is not brokenness. It is not worship.

We will discover more over the next few days.