July 24th, 1973
Dr. W. A. Criswell
7-24-73 Vacation Bible School
I asked Millie last evening, I said, “What are you studying about in Vacation School this year?” And she replied, “We are studying about the twelve apostles, each one of them.” So as I talked to her, we thought that it might be blessed of God if I would talk to you about Judas, and make an appeal to our hearts concerning his life in its disastrous choice and what God can do for us to save us from it.
Now I am going to read out of the Bible:
When Jesus said this, He was troubled in spirit, and testified, and said, Truly, truly, I say unto you, that one of you shall betray Me.
Then the disciples looked one on another, doubting of whom He spake.
Now there was leaning on Jesus’ bosom one of His disciples, whom He loved.
Simon Peter therefore beckoned to him, that he should ask who it should be of whom He spake.
He then lying on Jesus’ breast saith unto Him, Lord, who is it?
Jesus answered, He it is, to whom I shall give a sop, when I have dipped it. And when He had dipped the sop—
took a piece of bread and dipped it in the gravy of the paschal lamb—
He gave it to Judas Iscariot. . .
And after the sop Satan entered into him. Then said Jesus unto him, That that thou doest, do quickly.
That is, he had already made arrangements to betray the Lord, to sell Him for thirty pieces of silver [Matthew 26:14-16].
And he having received the sop went immediately out: and it was night.
It was dark. It was night. Why? Our answer is found in the choice that Judas made.
Do you realize that of all of the apostles there was only one of them that was cultured and distinguished? All eleven of those disciples came from the poor ranks of the peasantry, the plebes in Galilee. But there was one of them, just one that came from the affluent and cultural district of Palestine. He came from Judah. His name was Judah; the most distinguished name in the history of the family of God, Judah. It was out of Judah that David was born [Matthew 1:2-6]. It was out of Judah that the Messiah was promised [Genesis 49:10]. It was out of Judah that the King of Israel is to reign over God’s universe forever. You have his name translated here “Judas”; it’s the same name as is translated “Jude,” who wrote the little book, the half-brother of our Lord [Jude 1:1-25]. In the original language it is “Judah.” His name was Judah [John 13:26]. He had a distinguished name.
Now, in the second part that you call him, “Iscariot” [John 13:26], you have the town that he comes from. “Iscariot” as it comes out in our English language, Ish, ish is the Hebrew word for “man”; and Kerioth was a distinguished village in Judah; and Judah, the man Judah, Judas, was a distinguished man from Kerioth , from the Roman province of Judah. To show you his eminence among the twelve: he was elected treasurer [John 13:29]. The British would call him the chancellor of the exchequer. We would say the secretary of the treasury. He was the only one that we know in the twelve apostles who was elected to office. And so distinguished was this man, and so gifted, that the apostles chose him to be their contact with the world. If there was an account to be settled or something to be done, they looked to Judas, the distinguished citizen of Kerioth, to do it, Judas Iscariot.
Now look at the marvelous privilege that this man had. Our Lord said, “There are many eyes that would like to see what you see, and there are many ears that would love to hear what you hear” [Luke 10:23-24]. Wouldn’t you have loved to have been there when Jesus preached the Sermon on the Mount, the greatest sermon ever delivered from the lips of a man? [Matthew 5:1-7:29]. But Judas was there; he heard it. Wouldn’t you have loved to have been there when Jesus fed the five thousand with a few loaves, a few fish, the lunch of a little junior boy? [John 6:8-13]. Wouldn’t you have loved to have eaten bread that day from the hands of our Lord Himself and have eaten fish that day that He had multiplied? Wouldn’t you have loved to have been there? Judas was there: he ate of that bread and he partook of that broken fish. Think of raising Lazarus from the dead. Lazarus had been dead four days, and in that hot country without embalming, his body had corrupted and decayed. And Jesus stood at the tomb and called Lazarus by name, and Lazarus came forth alive! [John 11:39-44]. Wouldn’t you have loved to have been there that day? Judas was there. He saw it with his own eyes.
Look. Can you imagine following the Lord for three full years? Sitting at the table with Him, kneeling with Him in prayer, singing the psalms with Him, walking with Him as He peripatetically, as He taught, walking. Wouldn’t you have loved to have been there? Judas did that. For three years he was intimately associated as one of the elected disciples of our Lord. Look at this man.
The most precious of invitations that have ever been made to the human family have come to us from Jesus. Do you remember this one? “Come unto Me, come unto Me, all ye that are weary and heavy laden. Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me. I will give you rest” [Matthew 11:28-29]. Judas heard that. And when the Lord said, “Come unto Me,” Simon Peter said, “I’ll go.” John said, “I’ll go.” Matthew said, “I’ll go.” But when Jesus said, “Come unto Me, and ye shall find rest unto your souls,” Judas said, “I will not go.”
The Lord said, “Whosoever shall confess Me before men, him will I confess before My Father which is in heaven. Stand up for Me,” the Lord said, “confess your faith in Me,” the Lord said [Matthew 10:32]. Simon Peter said, “Lord, I will.” John said, “Lord, I will.” James said, “I will.” Matthew said, “I will.” Philip said, “I will.” Nathanael said, “I will.” Judas said, “I will not! I will not.”
And the Lord said, “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto Me” [John 12:32]. And Simon Peter said, “Lord, I feel that spirit of appeal in my heart, and I respond.” John said, “Lord, I’m coming.” James and Matthew and Philip and Nathanael and Simon and all the rest of them said, “Lord, I feel it in my heart and I am coming.” Judas said, “I may feel it in my heart, but I will not come.” And Judas died without God, without Christ, without hope, without a Savior—and it was night [Matthew 27:3-5]. It is always night away from God. But it is light, and life, and right in our Savior.
And that’s the appeal that He makes to your heart this solemn morning hour: to give your heart and your life in faith and in trust to the blessed Jesus [Romans 10:9-10; Ephesians 2:8]. And when you do it, everything is right. It’s not night, it’s light; it’s not death, it’s life, when Jesus says, “Come unto Me” [Matthew 11:28].