Grasp sinful nature to experience power of Christ’s resurrection
Updated: Apr 7, 2020
Luke 22: 1-6 – Judas Agrees to Betray Jesus
“Now the Festival of Unleavened Bread, called the Passover, was approaching, and the chief priests and the teachers of the law were looking for some way to get rid of Jesus, for they were afraid of the people. Then Satan entered Judas, called Iscariot, one of the Twelve.
"And Judas went to the chief priests and the officers of the temple guard and discussed with them how he might betray Jesus. They were delighted and agreed to give him money. He consented and watched for an opportunity to hand Jesus over to them when no crowd was present.”
Editor’s note: This is part three of a Journey to the Cross devotion from April 5 on Palm Sunday through April 12 on Easter. It includes a scripture reading from the gospels as we walk with Jesus. Please join me each morning when a new devotion is posted.
Journey to the Cross – No. 3 – April 7, 2020
Satan entered Judas, leading him to hand Jesus over to be crucified.
Judas, who along with the other disciples, witnessed Jesus healing the sick, restoring sight to the blind and raising the dead to life.
Judas, who along with the other disciples, saw water turned into wine, the miracle feeding of the 5,000 and Jesus walk on water.
Judas, who along with the other disciples, listened to His wisdom through parables how we are to live life here and be of His kingdom.
The other disciples did not hand Jesus over to be killed. Judas did.
After the resurrection, we can almost forgive Peter for denying Christ three times and Thomas’s unbelief after Jesus appeared to the others.
But Judas? When we get to this stage of the Holy Week story, we mutter: “How could he do that?!”
We act brave and blurt out: “You know what, if I was in Judas’ shoes, and I saw all those miracles and was taught by Christ during those three years, I would never have handed him over to be killed …”
But doesn’t Satan come into our hearts more than we care to admit?
Don’t we do things that we NEVER want to acknowledge that we did?
Certainly, our sinful natures win out on a consistent basis.
We cheat, lie, steal, manipulate, abuse, take advantage of, speak unkindly toward one another who are also made in God’s image.
In preparation for the Resolution for Men class, and a breakout session on marriage that my wife Jill and I led at the parenting conference in February, I looked up some research on prevalence of pornography.
Did you know nearly two-thirds of Christian men view pornography once a month, 37 percent three times a week and 10 percent daily?
Sadly, the numbers are nearly identical for non-Christians. That’s sinful nature that destroys marriages. Our sinful nature destroys our relationship with Jesus Christ.
You may have heard sin being described as missing the mark.
It stems from the Greek word hamartia as an archery term to "err" or "miss the mark" while used in Romans 3:23 – “For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.”
But it’s misleading. Sometimes we think it’s more acceptable to miss some ways in our behavior than others. But all sin is an offense to God.
Every shot – action, word or deed – where we don’t hit the bull’s-eye separates us from God. Because of God’s grace, what he’s about to experience with His death on the cross for us, we’re brought back in union Him.
What do we do when we don’t hit the bull’s-eye?
We admit it. We repent. We turn from our sin and change our behavior.
People don’t want to do that. We push blame off on others. We rationalize what we did wasn’t that bad … certainly not as bad as what somebody else did.
For nearly 20 years now, I’ve been in a regular weekly accountability group. One of the questions asks is what your Discipleship denied was in the previous week? When did you fail to show Christ to others?
This can take many directions. It can be when you let a witnessing opportunity go by without acting on it, but it may be when you were a stumbling block to someone else on their faith journey because of a sin you committed?
Ouch! I’ve been in reunion groups where men wouldn’t answer this question or leave the group entirely because they couldn’t bring themselves to admit where they failed God.
Judas couldn’t do it. In Matthew 27, the very morning Jesus was led away, Judas, who was seized with remorse, returned the 30 pieces of silver he received to the chief priests.
He says: “I have sinned for I have betrayed innocent blood.”
They scoff and tell him that’s his responsibility. So, Judas throws the money at them, which they used for a burial place for foreigners and Judas hangs himself.
He couldn’t bring himself to fall on his knees before God and repent.
It’s hard to go before the King of Kings and admit your failures.
One of my main shortcomings early in our marriage was cursing. It was a habit I picked up from my Dad that stayed with me.
It was such a part of my life I often didn’t know the difference from what “normal” speech was and the filth coming from my own mouth.
I’ve heard people who curse say cursing is not a sin.
“If I don’t use the Lord’s name in vain, everything I say is all right.”
If you believe that you are wrong. Ephesians 4:29 says: “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”
Is your speech benefitting those who listen?
Matthew 12:36 says: “I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken.”
My speech wasn’t benefitting those who listen.
While attending a spiritual retreat, I repented and gave my struggles over to God. That I was sorry for my language that wasn’t glorifying Him and to enable me to end it.
Following the retreat, after canceling ESPN (that’s another story) and refraining from cursing, my 11-year-old daughter said: “Where is my Daddy and what have you done with him?” That next year, you could count my curse words on one hand.
That doesn’t mean poor language has disappeared completely from my lips, but healing – and limiting my offenses toward God – has taken place.
This Holy Week spend private time with God. That’s one thing we have during this virus crisis is more time free from our other usual obligations.
Confess your sins of the week, the past few months or even years.
Repent from when you’ve failed to hit the bull’s-eye. Ask God’s help in putting those failures aside and being in complete union with Him.
Judas failed by handing an innocent man over to his death. Judas failed in not seeking repentance from the one who can grant forgiveness.
Come to grips with the sin you’ve committed in your life.
Attain that level of accountability this week of all weeks.
Go to your knees and bow with an appreciative, humble and repentant heart.
If you do so – accepting Jesus’ sacrifice with His death on the cross and resurrection for your sins – the weight of the world will be lifted from your shoulders … maybe in a way like it never has before.
Brad Zimanek is the Associate Pastor at Mulder Church in Wetumpka, Alabama. He worked in sports journalism for 32 years prior to answering the call to full-time ministry.