Easter sermon: The Kiss of Death - Matt. 26, 27; Luke 24; John 20, 21

Sermon series: Intersections at Easter

  1. The Promise of Paradise - Luke 23
  2. The Kiss of Death - Matt. 26, 27; Luke 24; John 20, 21
  3. Resurrection Snapshots - Matt. 28; Luke 24, John 20, 21
  4. Risen Indeed - 1 Cor. 15

Scriptures: Matthew 26-27; Luke 22:48

Introduction

Judas is one of the most recognized names among the original twelve disciples, but his life remains a sad mystery - or perhaps more accurately a sad tragedy. We understand how his life ended in suicide, but the mystery of Judas revolves around missing the majesty of Christ while surrounded with opportunity. Judas goes beyond refusing to accept the gift of eternal life. He betrays the Son of God with a kiss.

Betrayal is something only a friend or loved one can do. To betray one must first secure trust or loyalty of another. An enemy can attack you. Your competition may deceive you. A foe may plan for your destruction, but betrayal is a grievous act committed by one who has pledged support. Rejection may cause a wound, but betrayal pours salt to make it sting. Failure may knock you off your feet, but betrayal kicks you while you are down. Criticism and insult hurt your pride, but betrayal breaks your heart.

The Scriptures refer to Judas as "the betrayer," and his betrayal was a kiss of death. Jesus chose not to use the first-person pronoun (betray "me") when asking if Judas would "betray the Son of Man with a kiss." The Lord's use of His messianic title demonstrates the extent of the betrayal as more than a disagreement among friends. Judas opposed the work of almighty God for selfish reasons. Jesus exposes this arrogant kiss of betrayal as a despicable act of treason.

I. Remember the exhortation

There will always remain some questions about the life of Judas. One thing that is certain is the powerful warning his story provides for those considering the gift of eternal life. Judas is a real-life illustration of the danger of being religious but lost. He is the most startling example that is possible to know about Jesus but never know Jesus as one of His sheep who knows His voice.

Throughout Jesus' ministry, He warned about the deception that eventually destroyed Judas. Jesus declared there would be wolves in sheep clothing. He warned of false teachers. He explained that weeds would grow alongside the good wheat, but the Day of Judgment would reveal the true believers. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus preached about those who claimed to perform God-honoring works, but He said of them, "I never knew you."

We must allow this tragic story of Judas to exhort us to remember the clear teaching of Jesus. Being aware of His ministry is not the same thing as embracing Him as the Son of Man who gave his life to redeem us from our sin. Stories are often a more effective teaching tool than memorizing a list of doctrinal truths. Jesus, as the master teacher, used numerous illustrations in His lessons about the Kingdom of God and the Messiah's role in establishing the kingdom.

Judas's story reads like one of the parables ending with the fierce reality of suffering the consequences from bad decisions. But we must be careful not to dismiss his story as fiction. Judas was a real man who walked with Jesus for almost three years, but he never allowed the power of Christ to transform his life.

II. Conduct an examination

When considering the life of Judas, the question always surfaces: "Was Judas saved?" It is a question that needs to be examined. Some think that Judas may have been a true believer who was overcome with temptation to betray Jesus for personal gain. After all, the apostle Paul admitted that he sometimes struggled with sin. However upon close examination, the Scripture paints a picture of a man who never accepted God's amazing grace to be born again.

John 6:66-71 reveals that Judas did not believe that Jesus was the Bread of Life. "There are some of you who do not believe. For Jesus knew which of them did not believe and who would betray him" (6:64). When Mary in Bethany anoints Jesus with costly perfume as act of worship, Judas opposes her with a hypocritical statement about selling the perfume and giving the proceeds to the poor. Not only did he not approve of extravagant or passionate worship of Jesus, he was also stealing money used to support the disciples' ministry (John 12:3-6). Then in Matthew 26-27, we read the final acts of Judas life are selling information about Jesus for 30 pieces of silver, betraying the Savior with a kiss, and committing suicide.

  1. In summary of Judas's life, we conclude:
  2. He refused to believe the claims of Christ.
  3. He opposed the worship of Christ by others.
  4. He stole money that was given to support the ministry of Christ.
  5. He used his association with Jesus and the disciples for personal gain and demonstrated a total disregard for their safety.
  6. He mocked the Son of God by betraying Him with a kiss.
  7. He died a broken and disturbed man who was unwilling to call upon Christ for forgiveness.

Based on a careful examination of Scripture, we can conclude that Judas was never a true believer in Christ. I believe the words of Matthew 7:23, "I never knew you," are prophetic words that apply to Judas. Sadly they apply to many others who may know about Jesus but have never responded to His call to accept the gift of eternal life.

III. Make the application

The story of Judas is not intended to be a tragic, entertaining tale like a Shakespearean play. Almighty God preserved this story in Holy Scripture to inspire and guide us to accept the gift of eternal life made possible by the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ.

Several areas of life and key principles emerge from Judas's life.

A. Transformation

Salvation creates positive change in a person's life. The Bible is filled with examples of people who had a life-altering encounter with Christ. Judas never changed because he was never saved.

B. Greed

What does it profit a man to gain the whole world yet lose his soul? (Mark 8:36). God is not opposed to wealth, but the Scripture reveals, as in the life of Judas, that greed can enslave a soul preventing a person from receiving Christ.

C. Deception

It is possible to fool others into thinking you are a Christian. The other disciples who lived and ministered with Judas were surprised to learn that he was a betrayer. You can even fool yourself, but you cannot fool God!

D. Judgment

Do not be deceived, God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows (Galatians 6:7). Delayed judgment is not escaped judgment. The Bible asks a very important question in Hebrews 2:3: "How shall we escape if we ignore such a great salvation?" The answer is we don't. Christ is the only way of escaping the judgment for our sins.

E. Today

Be saved today! The longer you put the decision off, the harder it will be to respond. Your heart grows harder without Christ. The weeds grow stronger roots every day you postpone accepting Christ. Don't confuse knowing information about Christ with knowing Christ. Acquiring facts is not the same thing as saving faith. If Christ is not your Savior, call upon Him to save you today.

Conclusion

Many recognize the name John Wesley as the powerful Methodist preacher and hero of the Christian faith. What many don't know is that John Wesley was saved, converted, born again as an adult after having already served as a missionary to Savannah, Georgia in the 1730s.

While traveling from England to the colony of Georgia, Wesley's ship encountered a terrible storm that he thought would take the life of all aboard. During the storm, Wesley noticed the confident faith of a Moravian Christian named Spangenberg. The two men talked about the difference in the confident faith of Spangenberg in facing death and the fear of Wesley. Spangenberg asked John Wesley a question that he described as embarrassing: "Mr. Wesley do you know Jesus Christ?" John Wesley responded, "Sir, I know Christ to be the Savior of the world." Spangeberg than asked Wesley a question that would change Wesley's life and the history of the world: "True. But do you know that He has saved you?"

Judas knew that Jesus gave sight to the blind. Judas helped the disciples distribute a miraculous meal to over 5,000 people that Jesus provided. Judas saw Jesus walk on water and command the wind and the waves to submit to His authority. Judas knew that Jesus claimed to be the Savior of the world, but Jesus was not his Savior. Don't make the same mistake. Be saved today!

Rick Ezell is the pastor of First Baptist Greer, South Carolina. Rick has earned a Doctor of Ministry in Preaching from Northern Baptist Theological Seminary and a Master of Theology in preaching from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Rick is a consultant, conference leader, communicator, and coach.

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