Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
June 30, 1949

Portrait Of A Traitor

Cleon Lyles, Little Rock, Arkansas A heavy cloud was hovering over the room where Christ was eating the last supper with his disciples. There was nothing in the heavy sadness of the hour to relieve the apprehensive fears and forebodings of his followers. Already he had announced that this would be his last supper with them before he died. He had explained to them that he would be betrayed and killed before he ever left this city of Jerusalem. Though they did not fully understand what he meant, and were puzzled in their hearts, yet they did realize that something terrible and frightening was impending.

This anxiety and apprehension were sharply accentuated when he made the startling announcement, "One of you shall betray me:" There must have been a sudden, awful stillness in the room; each one present was searching his own heart; each one seemed to be wondering if the Lord had seem some undiscovered weakness in him. In excited tones they began to cry out, one by one, "Is it I, Lord?" When Judas, who was the last to speak, asked the question, Jesus replied, "Thou has said:" What emotions filled the traitor's mind at this bold announcement we will never know.

Christ Was Not Deceived

No doubt it was quite a shock to Judas to learn that Jesus knew what kind of person he was all the time. How long had Jesus known? How much did he know? What would he do about it? What did the other disciples know? All these questions and many others must have raced through Judas' mind:

This story emphasizes the fact that we are not always "putting over" on people as much as we think we are. With our exalted opinions of our ability to deceive people, we may go on for a time unmolested, then be deeply shocked to find out that we had only been deceiving ourselves. Jesus knew what Judas was all the time. He let him go his way undisturbed until the crucial hour when he revealed to Judas how completely he was known. We are able to hide so little from people, and nothing from God.

Judas Rebuked

Shortly before this public exposure, Judas had received a rebuke from the Lord. It happened when the woman with the expensive ointment had anointed the Savior as he was eating: When Judas objected to this on the hypocritical grounds of extravagance, Jesus rebuked him in the presence of all. Judas became excited after this. He knew now that the Lord was seeing through him. He reacted in his own particular way to this knowledge. Some men under such circumstances will go all to pieces; they become swearing, raving, uncontrolled madmen. Others make no outward show at all, but inwardly are seething with evil plans.

Judas, following this rebuke, realized he was losing face. He had been able to put over many interesting deals—or so he thought: As treasurer of the group, he had doubtless pictured himself as occupying a highly important post in the new kingdom which was shortly to be established. He had dreamed of greater opportunities for enriching himself. But now he begins to realize that these things are not to be: He has been publicly rebuked before those whom he had pictured as his future servants.

We have always known that Judas was selfish: Whatever love he may have professed for the Lord or the other disciples had always in it a coldly calculated estimation of what Judas would receive for himself from his loyalty.

Using Christ For Gain

Outstanding among Judas' sins was his willingness to use the Lord for personal gain. There have been many like Judas since those days. Under the guise of saving a person, or a congregation, they will deliberately divide the church—the body of Christ. They may become so bitter that their souls cannot contain their thoughts, and in some mad, impassioned speech, they declare themselves. It sometimes sounds like the raving of one who was mad. All who hear the speech, or read it afterward, will feel that the man is mentally unbalanced.

With little thought as to the final outcome, but with an overwhelming desire to accomplish his own purposes, such a person may crush the spirit of one who has loyally served the Lord for years. He may so wrest and twist the Lord's words as to make them mean the very opposite of what the Lord intended: He has little love for the Lord; he is simply using the Lord for his own vain and selfish ends.

Later on, thinking more seriously of what he has done, this person may realize what a mess he has made, and then again may misuse the Lord's word in trying to redeem himself. He may preach and cry so much about forgiveness that one would almost think he was the one who had been betrayed! And in all the tragic story, he is simply doing what Judas did—using the Lord and the Lord's word for the accomplishment of his own base and selfish ends.

The Reaping

Perhaps you can think of many more examples: You can begin with the story of Judas and go from there. But with every such story there is a true and inevitable pattern: The conclusion of every tale of selfishness, deceit, worldly ambition, and evil scheming is always the same: Judas fell one day the whole sorry house he had built came tumbling in on him. His sorrow, his remorse, his hatred for himself drove him to take his own life: There was no place for him to turn. He had already gone too far. He had lived in his own evil castle too long now to be able to find any other place of residence. He had had his own way too long to listen to another. It all came home to him, and he took his own life.

The whole sorry tale of a traitor who met his doom is summed up in the immortal words of Paul, "Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap: For he that soweth unto his own flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth unto the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap eternal life." (Gal. 6:7,8)


A bore is a man who, when you ask him how he is, tells you.


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