The Gospel According to Judas
April 10th, 1988 @ 10:50 AM
THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JUDAS
Dr. W. A. Criswell
4-10-88 10:50 a.m.
We welcome the uncounted throngs of you who share this hour on radio and on television. This is the pastor of the First Baptist Church in Dallas delivering the message entitled The Gospel According to Judas. In our preaching through the Gospel of John, we are in chapter 12. And this is the way it begins. John chapter 12:
Jesus six days before the Passover came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, who had died, whom He raised from the dead.
There they made Him a supper; and Martha served . . .
Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the Lord; and the house was filled with the odor of the ointment.
Then saith one of His disciples, Judas Iscariot, the one who should betray Him,
Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred denarii, and given to the poor?
This he said, not that he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and bare what was put therein.
Then said Jesus, Let her alone: against the day of My burying hath she kept this.
The poor you have with you always.
May I make an aside there? Listening to these socialists, and we have got them on every political corner, you could take the entire wealth of America and give it to the poor, and the next day they would be just as poor. What’s the matter with us is not because we’re poor; what’s the matter with us is because we don’t have in our hearts what it takes to support, to work, and to pour our lives into a noble ministry before God. “The poor you have always with you,” and that’s the truth. “But Me you have not always” [John 12:8].
The Gospel According to Judas: that little word, “according to” the gospel, “according to,” is a good biblical word. In the second chapter of the Book of Romans, verse 16, Paul says, “according to my gospel” [Romans 2:16]. In 2 Timothy chapter 2, verse 8, he does the same thing. He speaks of the message of Christ, “according to my gospel” [2 Timothy 2:8]. And that phrase, “according to the gospel,” is a summation of how one looks at the Lord Jesus; the impression the Lord makes upon him. “The gospel according to,” that is as this someone looked at the Lord, and he writes down the impressions that the precious Savior made upon him.
For example, the Gospel According to Matthew; if you have a regular Bible, that will be the way the heading reads, “The Gospel—the story of Christ—According to Matthew,” as Matthew looked at it. Matthew wrote his Gospel for the Jews; so all of the Gospel of Matthew is filled with, “This was done that it might be fulfilled…spoken by the prophet” [Matthew 1:22, 2:15, 13:35, 21:4]; that’s the way Matthew looked at the Lord Jesus.
That second one, the Gospel According to Mark, there is a little Greek word, euthus which means “straightway, immediately.” And that word is used over and over and again in Mark’s Gospel [Mark 2:8, 5:30, 6:50]. The impression that the Lord God made upon Mark was that He was a man of action, doing, and Mark wrote his Gospel for the Romans, who would admire a figure like that.
The Gospel According to Luke: this is the way Luke found the Savior. In his research, Luke being as Paul called him “a beloved physician” [Colossians 4:14]. Luke was a great humanitarian, and he wrote his Gospel presenting our Savior as the friend of mankind; wrote it for the Greeks. And the fourth, the Gospel According to the sainted apostle John: this is the way John looked at Him. John fell at His feet as one dead [Revelation 1:17], worshiping the Lord, a universal message, the deity of Christ, “the gospel according to,” the message of Christ as someone sees Him.
It would be interesting if we had the Gospel According to Herod Antipas; he was looking for a charlatan, he was expecting a medicine show. So when Pontius Pilate sent the Lord to Herod Antipas, he was delighted thinking that He would do all kinds of magical tricks—cheap! [Luke 23:7-11]. And when Jesus refused to respond, why, Herod Antipas, in contempt, sent Him away! the gospel, the impression that Jesus made upon Antipas.
Or you could have the Gospel According to Caiaphas, the high priest. He could easily see in the message of our Lord that there would be no more sacrifice; there would be no more temple; there would be no more priestcraft. And he said, and I quote him, “If we let this Man live, our place will be taken away” [John 11:48]; the gospel according to Caiaphas as he looked at the Lord Jesus.
What an interesting gospel could have been written by Pontius Pilate, the gospel, the message of Christ as Pilate saw the Lord Jesus. You know, there’s something noble and ignoble about Pontius Pilate. This peasant who said He was a king and Pilate speaking with Him, said to the bloodthirsty throng, “I find in Him no fault at all” [John 18:37-38], and listening to his wife who sent him word saying, “In a dream I saw Him, this righteous Man this night” [Matthew 27:19]. And when the throng in the Sanhedrin pressed for the crucifixion of our Lord, he acquiesced but washed his hands. “I want you to see and to know I am innocent of the blood of this just Man.” [Matthew 27:22-24].
When you read in history about Pontius Pilate; he was recalled by Vitellius, the counselor, the great Roman ruler of Syria, and in his last days committed suicide. And his body, they say, was flung into Lake Lucerne. And if you’ve ever been there in Lucerne, Switzerland, right in front of that beautiful little city is a great mountain called Mt. Pilatus, Mount Pilate, and the tradition says that in the dusk of the evening at twilight, you can see Pilate rise from the depths of the lake and wash his hands in the clear water, “I am innocent of the blood of this just Man.”
Jesus, as others saw Him, “the gospel according to,” and now Judas, as Judas saw the Lord, the gospel according to Judas. First, the work of Christ according to Judas: the work and ministry and message of Jesus had no pertinency, save as it ministered to his own selfish needs. What a tragedy! It says here in this passage I just read that when Mary anointed our Lord with expensive, extravagant spikenard, Judas said, “This could have been sold for three hundred denarii” [John 12:3-5]. And [John] said, “That is not because he cares anything about charity or philanthropy, but he is a thief, and he holds the bag, and he steals what is put therein” [John 12:6]. Ah dear, the gospel according to Judas!
You know there’s something here that is very, very pertinent. Mary, Jesus says, Mary did this against the day of His burying [John 12:7]. Isn’t that a strange thing, how a woman will have sensitivities that are just hid to the rest of us? She’ll feel and intuitively know things that are hid from our eyes. A woman! Mary anointed the Lord, Jesus said, sensing His atoning death and His burial. It’s remarkable to me! But how callous Judas Iscariot! This ointment, lovingly poured over the head of our Savior, “Man, look at that, three hundred denarii, a year’s salary!” [John 12:5].
Did you know that’s about as universal a thing as you could observe in those who are supposed to be ministers of Christ? They serve God for what they can get out of it. “If you don’t pay me thus and such salary, or if you don’t give me this and such, I’m not going to come. I’m not going to sing; I’m not going to preach; I’m not going to be there.” They are serving Jesus for the denarii, for what they can get out of it.
I want to pause here and be spiritually egotistical for just a moment. Did you know when I look back over the sixty years and beyond that I’ve been a preacher, never could I forget the first time I was ever given money for the preaching the gospel. I was seventeen years old, and a friend down there at Baylor could not go to Mount Calm, a little town this side, so he sent me. And when I preached at the morning hour and preached at the evening hour, when I got through, a deacon named Stovall gave me a twenty dollar bill. And when he offered me that twenty dollar bill, I said to him, “I won’t take it, I don’t preach for money. I will not take it.”
What I can’t understand is how under high heaven did I ever think I was going to live unless the church gave me some money, I don’t know. But I told him I would not take it, “I don’t preach for money.” But when everybody left and he left, before I went down there to the little station where the interurban went from Dallas to Waco, there in my hat band was that twenty dollar bill stuck in the hat band. Did you know if you never paid me a dime, wouldn’t make any difference to me, I’d be preaching the gospel just the same. And if I didn’t have this pulpit, I’d be out in a barn or I’d be out on the street; I’d be somewhere, preaching the Word of God. That’s the most tragic thing that I could think for, to say about the servants of God that they work for money; they work for pay, for what they get out of it. That’s the gospel according to Judas.
The gospel according to Judas; our Lord represents a lost cause and that sent him to the Sanhedrin. The twenty-sixth chapter of the Book of Matthew, verse 14, “Then Judas Iscariot went unto the chief priests, And said unto them, `What will ye give me, and I will deliver Him unto you?’ And they covenanted with him for thirty pieces of silver” [Matthew 26:14-15]. Thirty pieces of silver! Selling the Lord for thirty pieces of silver! The gospel according to Judas: and did you know that is about as universal a response to our Savior as you could ever think for in this world, selling the Lord for thirty pieces of silver.
I cannot tell you the number of times, the number of times, the innumerable times that I have made appeal, and this man will say, “I have no place for Him. Sunday’s my fishing day. I’ve got a boat out there on the lake and that’s my fishing day, I’m out there on the lake.” Or, “I’ve got a bottle to drink and as for giving up this bottle for Christ, I’d never do it,” or his gambling, or his promiscuity, or a thousand other things, selling the Lord for thirty pieces of silver, for a bottle, or for a prostitute, or for a day at the lake.
Dear God, what shall a man do like Judas, when he stands at the bar of Almighty Lord in heaven and gives an account. “Why is it that I sent My Son into the world to die for you, that you might be saved and you would not accept Him, because of thirty pieces of silver?” [Matthew 26:14-16]. O Lord, the gospel according to Judas.
The gospel according to Judas: the warnings of our Savior looked upon with contempt and futility. In this twenty-sixth chapter of the Gospel of Matthew, the twenty-fourth verse, “The Son of Man goeth as it is written of Him: but woe unto that man by whom He is betrayed! It would have been good for that man if he had not been born” [Matthew 26:24].
Then Judas said, “Master, is it I You are talking about?”
And the Lord said, “It is you.” The most affirmative word in Greek is to repeat it, “It is you! You have said it!” [Matthew 26:25].
O Lord! Dear God! The warning of our Savior was looked upon with contempt, ridicule, rejection by Judas. Woe unto that man! Been good if he had never been born [Matthew 26:24]. But my brother and sister, that’s the commonest reaction to the Lord’s gospel that I could think for: this one, to listen to the warning of our Savior and pass it by as though it were empty words.
I heard a man one time say that he’d gone through this New Testament, and there were three hundred sixteen different times in the Word of God where the Lord warns us about hell and damnation and judgment. Three hundred sixteen times! Just think of walking down the road and three hundred sixteen signs on that road saying: “This road leads to hell! This road leads to damnation! This road leads to the fiery pit, the burning brimstone! This road leads to the abyss!” And just walking on down the road and it is punctuated three hundred sixteen times: “Look, this road leads to hell!”
Look at these people with AIDS. And if I can trust what I read, when the twentieth century gets here, AIDS is going to be a plague damning the whole world: AIDS, promiscuity, venereal disease, this road leads to hell! Drugs, addiction, this road leads to hell. The alcoholic—one out of every nine who drink are problem drinkers—this road leads to hell, and we scoff at it; make fun of it.
O Lord! The gospel according to Judas: how he looks at the Savior. The gospel according to Judas, as he looked at the Savior, he saw someone humble, and gracious, and precious, and dear. As the prophet says, “A bruised reed He will not break, and a smoking flax He will not quench [Isaiah 42:3]. He will not lift up His voice. He will not be heard in the streets” [Isaiah 42:2]. And Judas, taking advantage of it: it says here that Judas came to Gethsemane where Jesus was wont to pray, and it was there where Jesus prayed that Judas brought the Sanhedrin and the officers and the soldiers [Matthew 26:47].
And he said to them, Whomsoever I shall kiss, that is He: hold Him fast.
And he came to Jesus and kissed Him—
the affectionate Lord—
he kissed Him.
And Jesus said unto him, My friend, from where do you come?
Great God! How can anyone be like that? And that’s our Lord. If you ever come into the kingdom, it will never be because of coercion, never! It will be out of the love of your heart, and the Lord will never force you, never! It will always be in the goodness and kindness and preciousness of our Savior. He is that way!
And last, the gospel according to Judas: when he saw the enormity of what he’d done, he thought that the Lord was hard of heart and vindictive and judgmental. And the next chapter says in verse 3 of chapter 27: Then Judas, who had betrayed Him, when he saw that He was condemned metamelomai, not “turned” like metanoeō, not that kind of repentance, but “in despair”:
brought again the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders,
Saying, I have sinned in that I betrayed the innocent blood. And they said, What is that to us?
And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself
Took his own life: died of suicide.
The gospel according to Judas: that in our sin and in our death there’s nothing but darkness, and helplessness, and hopelessness, and despair; and he hanged himself. Great God! How wrong he was! The Lord is merciful and plenteous in mercy [Psalm 103:8]. He is kind and is the epitome and embodiment of that love and goodness.
For the heart of God and the love of God is greater
Than the measure of man’s mind;
And the soul and heart of the Eternal
Is most wonderfully kind.
[adapted from “There’s a Wideness in God’s Mercy,” Frederick W. Faber, 1854]
If he’d just gone to the Lord and said, “Lord, I’ve sinned. I betrayed You. Forgive me,” the Lord would have forgiven him. That’s Jesus!
I want to take a moment here for a little chapter in textual criticism. When I was in school in the seminary, I sat at the feet for several years of the greatest Greek scholar that we’ve ever produced. He’d written a book on textual criticism—you know, studying the text, finding the true text—and that was our textbook. Well, you’ll find in the eighth chapter of this Gospel of John, you’ll find the story about the Lord and a woman taken in adultery, and it is plainly out of place [John 8:1-11]. It’s inserted right in the middle of another story; it has nothing to do with the beginning or the end of the story in which it is inserted. It was excised; it’s a pericope that was cut out. What happened is very plain; there was a scribe that when he started to copy the Scriptures—the story of our Lord—when he came across that story, he cut it out! But the story was there, so floating around, they just stuck it with no purpose at all in the eighth chapter of the Gospel of John.
Well, the story you know; there was brought to the Lord Jesus a woman taken in the act of adultery, and she was cast at His feet [John 8:3]. And the Sanhedrin and the elders of the Jews and the Pharisees said:
Moses law says, Moses’ law says she is to be stoned to death! What do You say? What do You say?
And the Lord replied, Let him that is without sin cast the first stone. Then the rest of you.
When the Lord lifted up His face, they had all gone.
And He said to that dear woman, Where are your accusers? Is there not one?
And she replied, No, my Lord. And He said, Neither do I condemn you. You go, and sin no more.
“That’s an insult, this woman is an adulteress! She was taken in the act! She ought to be stoned, that’s what the law says!” Jesus says she’s just like the rest of us: we are all sinners; we all deserve the condemnation from God. All of us! And to any sinner anywhere, anytime, any place, anyhow you’ll come to the Lord, you’ll find in Him a marvelous and compassionate Savior [John 6:37].
That dying thief rejoiced to see Him in His day.
And there may I, though vile as He, Wash all my sins away.
[“There is a Fountain Filled with Blood,” by William Cowper]
He said, that dying thief, “Lord, someday, when You come into Your kingdom, would You remember me?” [Luke 23:42].
And the Lord said, not “someday,” but sēmeron, this day, this day, sēmeron, “Today you will be with Me in Paradise” [Luke 23:43]. And when the Lord entered heaven, walking through those pearly gates and down those golden streets, He entered arm in arm with a thief, with a seditionist, with an insurrectionist. That’s God and the compassionate love of our Savior.
When Peter was cursing and denying that he ever knew Him [Luke 22:54-60], the Lord hurt, just hurt; turned and looked upon Peter, and he went out and wept bitterly [Luke 22:61-62]. And when we get to it, there’s an addendum, there’s a twenty-first chapter to this Gospel of John. It’s in tribute to his old friend, Simon Peter; when the Lord took him back, when God called him again [John 21:1-22].
The same story with Saul, Paul of Tarsus, breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the children of God, the family of Christ: the Lord appeared to him in the way, called him into the marvelous ministry that blesses us today. That’s the Lord! [Acts 9:1-18].
All Judas had to do was to go to the Savior and say, “Lord, I have sinned. I’ve done wrong. Forgive me, Lord.” And he would have been saved, he would have been regenerated, he would have been written as a member of the family of God. But because he refused the love and grace and overtures of the Lord Jesus, he hanged himself; died of suicide and faced the judgment of God [Matthew 27:5].
O Lord! Great God! How we need to see our Lord in the great and holy purpose for which He came into this world, to save sinners, to save me [Matthew 18:11; Luke 19:10; John 3:16-17]. He didn’t come to call the righteous to repentance, but the unrighteous [Matthew 9:13]. He didn’t come pleading with those who are able in themselves to stand before God. He came to stand in my place, “He is one of Mine, I stand for him.”
O Lord, what a glorious gospel, and that’s what we need to do! To you who are looking on television, what God asks of us is to admit, to confess that we are lost sinners, that we face the judgment of death. “The soul that sins shall die” [Ezekiel 18:4, 20], “The wages of sin is death” [Romans 6:23], and I face that inevitable judgment some day, sometime, somewhere. Confess it before God, “Lord, I am a lost sinner facing the inevitable judgment of death. And Lord, I can’t save myself. When that hour comes, please stand by me. Be there, Lord, and open for me the gates of heaven. Take me to be with You.” That’s what it is to be a Christian; that’s what it is to be saved, to look to Jesus in our helplessness, “God, You do for me what I cannot do for myself. Stand by me, Lord.”
God, place in our hearts that humility that will bow in His presence. Call upon His name and love Him forever, now and in the world that is yet to come. May we pray?
Precious Savior, what a day it is when one comes into Thy presence. “Lord, I have fallen. I am a lost sinner, and I need Thee, Lord, to forgive me, to stand by me, to open for me the gates of grace and of glory and someday, to receive me into Yourself.” O Savior, may there be that wonderful willingness on the part of all in divine presence, looking to Jesus, loving the Lord who loves us, who died for our sins according to the Scriptures [1 Corinthians 15:3], who was raised for our justification according to the Scriptures [Romans 4:25]. Please, God, without loss of one today, save us all, in Thy precious name, amen.
In this moment when we stand and sing our hymn, you come, you come. You’ll be glad you did. A family you coming into the fellowship of our dear church, or a one somebody you accepting the Lord as Savior; down one of these stairways, the press of people on this lower floor, down one of these aisles, “Preacher, this is God’s day for me and I ‘m coming.” May the angels attend you as you answer with you life, while we stand and while we sing.
THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JUDAS
Dr. W. A. Criswell
A. “Gospel according to” (Romans 2:16, 2 Timothy 2:8)
1. A summation of how one looks at the Lord Jesus
2. Suppose a gospel according to Herod Antipas, Caiphas, or Pontius Pilate (John 18:37-38, Matthew 27:19, 24)II. The work of Christ according to Judas
A. Had no meaning except as it helped his own selfish interests
B. Serving God for what you can get out of itIII. The cause of Christ according to Judas
A. Our Lord represents a lost cause
B. He sold the SaviorIV. The warnings of Christ according to Judas
A. Contemptible and futile (Matthew 26:24-25)
1. New Testament warnings of hellV. The methods of Christ according to Judas
A. Humble and simple (Isaiah 42:2-3)
1. Judas took advantage of this (Matthew 26:48-50)VI. The heart of Christ according to Judas
A. Hard of heart, judgmental (Matthew 27:3-5)
B. Nothing but darkness, despairVII. How wrong he was
A. Kindness of our Lord
1. Woman caught in adultery (John 8:4-11)
2. Dying thief on the cross (Luke 23:42-43)