Grace and peace to you Beloved. Let’s read our passage for this morning. Read.
Mark 14:43. Immediately while He was still speaking, Judas, one of the twelve, came up accompanied by a crowd with swords and clubs, who were from the chief priests and the scribes and the elders. 44 Now he who was betraying Him had given them a signal, saying, “Whomever I kiss, He is the one; seize Him and lead Him away under guard.” 45 After coming, Judas immediately went to Him, saying, “Rabbi!” and kissed Him. 46 They laid hands on Him and seized Him. 47 But one of those who stood by drew his sword, and struck the slave of the high priest and cut off his ear. 48 And Jesus said to them, “Have you come out with swords and clubs to arrest Me, as you would against a robber? 49 “Every day I was with you in the temple teaching, and you did not seize Me; but this has taken place to fulfill the Scriptures.” 50 And they all left Him and fled. (Mt.26:47-56, Lk.22:47-53, Jn.18:2-12)
Let’s pray and ask God to bless our worship in this very sad and sober, and I will add, strangely hopeful word. Pray.
I want to begin our sermon this morning by reading a hymn, it is entitled Jesus What a Friend of Sinners by J. Wilbur Chapman (1910) The first line runs like this:
Jesus! what a Friend for sinners!
Jesus! lover of my soul;
friends may fail me, foes assail me,
He, my Savior, makes me whole.
And this is the refrain:
Hallelujah! what a Savior!
Hallelujah, what a Friend!
Saving, helping, keeping, loving,
He is with me to the end.
Friends may fail me. Foes assail me, He my Savior makes me whole. Beloved in our sermon this morning we are looking at the friends of Christ failing Christ. They forsake Him. And we see also the foes of Christ assailing Him. False friends betray Him. Judas the traitor. False ministers of the God of Israel betray the Messiah of God. Beloved, here we learn that sinners have betrayed Christ and saints have forsaken Christ in countless ways. But our Christ is ever faithful. Saving, helping, keeping, loving, He is with us to the end. Even to people like the ones we see in our passage. (I Cor.6:9-11, Rom.3:23, 6:23, Rom.3:9-18, Jn.3:16) Hallelujah what a Savior.
The lamb of God.
As we look at Christ in our passage let me use the words of John the Baptist, behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. (Jn.1:29) He has just come from praying to His heavenly Father. Then He corrected His weak lambs for their weakness, that they needed to seek their strength from God and watch and pray that they might not enter into temptation. (Mk.14:32-41)
The humiliation of Christ.
We are looking at Christ as our Mediator Savior. He is in His estate of humiliation. (WLC 46-50)
Christ has always been the Second Person of the Godhead. (Jn.1:1) He entered into time through the womb of the Virgin Mary and put Himself under Law. (Jn.1:1-18, Gal.4:4) The Law-Giver humbled Himself and engaged Himself as our Surety to pay the penalties of His own law for His people. (Heb.7:22, Rom.3:25, I Pt.3:18, Eph.5:23, Acts 20:28)
What a condescension for God to be Man. And Christ went lower. He who was the highest of all made Himself the lowest servant. (Phil.2:1-11) No outward form or power that we should be attracted to Him. Christ willingly chose this. (Isa.53:1-12) Betrayed and Forsaken. And Christ went even lower. Falsely Arrested. False accused. Falsely condemned. Spit upon, mocked, reviled, whipped. And finally, Christ went to the lower most – crucified. The Lord of Glory. (Isa.55:8-9)
This is the One beloved that loves and saves us. Though, of ourselves we are all sin and therefore not lovely. He loves and saves people that betray and forsake Him. He changes us into His image.
Oh beloved, why do we shrink back from our estate of humiliation considering Christ embraced His estate of suffering and shame for us.
The hour of darkness.
Now at that very occasion of Jesus speaking with His disciples another disciple, Judas, comes into the garden. (Jn.13:3) Christ says to them, this is your hour and the power of darkness. (Lk.22:53)
This is Satan’s hour. The Son of Man is handed over to the sons of men. George Whitefield was quite correct when he said that the unconverted man is half a beast and half a devil. Unconverted man is a slave of the devil. Christ has come to destroy the kingdom of the devil and the works of the devil which is sin. (I Jn.3:4-8, spiritual warfare – Gen.3:1-15)
And He has come to set the captives of the devil free. (Isa.61:1-2) And in God’s inscrutable wisdom this will be done by letting the devil loose on the Son of the Father’s love. (Job 2:3-6, Lk.22:31, Gen.3:15, Col.2:13-23)
Satan had entered into this professing disciple of Jesus. (Lk.22:3, Jn.13:27) Judas is moved along by the devil to betray Christ Jesus to the leaders of the Jewish church, the household of faith – who are bereft of saving faith. (Mk.14:10-11) Christ came to His own and His own knew Him not. (Jn.1:10-13, Lk.19:39-44, Rev.2:9, 3:9, Rom.2:28-29)
Let me say that again. One professing disciple and minister of Jesus betrays Jesus Christ into the hands of other ministers of the visible church that they might murder Messiah Jesus.
Murderers do not inherit the kingdom of God beloved. And remember this sin like other sins starts with unbelief. This one in particular comes from a heart of hatred. (Mt.5:21-26) In This case, hatred of God. Natural man hates God, the God of the Bible. Beloved those that hate God do not want to live with God nor will they. (Gal.5:19-21, I Cor.6:9-10, Rev.22:15, Isa.2:10, Hos.10:8, Lk.23:30, Rev.6:16)
Sinners cannot go to heaven unless by God’s grace they turn to Christ to ransom them from the penalty of God due for their sin. Remember David. Remember Uriah. (2 Sam.11:1-27) There is hope for sinners. (Ps.32:1-11) But only if they come to Christ. (Acts 13:35, Acts 2:27, Ps.16:10)
Beloved, beware when men in the church, of any stripe, tell you that the church saves. The church does not save. Christ alone saves. Rome is wrong. And Rominish Protestants are wrong. The road to heaven is narrow, it only goes through the cross of Christ.
Often men are not so bold as to come right out and say, the church saves, but they teach this in subtle ways. They talk more of the church than of the Christ. Beware when men are more fond of their denomination or their non-denomination than Jesus. They talk more of sacraments and less of the Word. They talk more about baptism and less about the blood. They will confuse you with their intricate theories on the covenant and they will not call you to believe the simple gospel because they themselves do not know it or believe it.
Beloved, when you see and hear this, know that this is the power of darkness. Flee to the hills. And do not look back. Your soul is eternal. Be concerned for your soul. Cling to Christ alone. And all will be well. (Gen.19:17, Lk.17:32, Mt.24:16-20)
The shepherd of sheep.
But please see that Jesus Christ comes out to meet those that hate Him and intend on murdering Him. Jesus does not run away. He does not hide. And more important for us, He does not fight.
Christ gives Himself. Willingly. Freely. He offers Himself to death. These are the wicked human agents that will do it, to their own eternal shame and guilt. But He is the Lamb of God and He goes willingly to the slaughter. Christ allows Himself to be bound like Isaac and laid upon the altar for the sins of His people. Jehovah Jireh will provide the Lamb. (Gen.22:8, Jn.10:1-18)
Why is it important that Christ does not rise up and fight back? Here we see that God’s ways are not our ways. (Isa.55:8-9) Here we see that God’s Christ is infinitely higher than any sinful man. Natural man would not do what Christ does. They cannot.
Natural Man thinks God is like him and thinks like him. He does not. (Num.23:19)
The malice of unbelief.
Look at how Judas and his evil companions seek to take Christ. They are armed to the teeth. They have prepared for a potential bloody fight. This is actually logical and wise if you are walking by sight and not by faith. Most often people will try to resist you murdering them if they are able. God has created man with a desire to preserve his or her life. But because of the Fall, natural man in certain situations has no problem trying to take away another’s life unjustly.
As we have seen with the covid virus. Men are terrified to die themselves. All they while they rage for the murder of infants in the womb. That is natural man beloved. A wolf.
These unbelievers reasoned like unbelievers. Shocking I know. Why do we as Christians get surprised or angry when unbelievers think, act, and speak like unbelievers? (I Cor.6:9-11)
Don’t we remember how we thought, spoke and acted when we were dead in our sins and trespasses, when we did not know Christ savingly? (Acts 22:4, I Cor.15:9, Gal.1:13) They think the way we thought. Only God’s grace makes the different beloved. By nature we were them. (Eph.2:1-3) Oh how this should motivate us to preach the Good News that Christ saves sinners and makes them saints. And only He can do this.
The treachery of apostasy.
And actually what we are looking at is not just ordinary unbelief, if I can even use that idea. All sin is extraordinary as it strikes against the infinitely good God. We are looking at vile, vile, vile unbelief. We are looking at the aggravation of sins, evil in the zenith.
Mark 14:44. Now he who was betraying Him had given them a signal, saying, “Whomever I kiss, He is the one; seize Him and lead Him away under guard.” 45 After coming, Judas immediately went to Him, saying, “Rabbi!” and kissed Him.
Judas is a traitor to Christ. Traitors are considered the lowest of the low. They are worse than an open enemy. At least an open enemy is honest. A traitor is a pretend friend, a secret enemy. A snake. A weasel. A coward. Not brave. Not bold.
As such he aggravates his sin. (WLC 151) The worst sins are sins against God directly. Commandments one through four. (Mt.22:34-40, Exod.20:1-11) Judas makes it more heinous before God. He sins directly against God in the flesh and not merely another fallen human being. He sins against Christ’s kindness and goodness to him. He sins against his calling. Against His office. (Jas.3:1, Heb.13:17, Rom.14:12) Against his gifts and service and even his own preaching of Christ and performing miracles testifying of Christ. To say nothing of seeing Christ, touching Christ, and hearing Christ.
And for all this he sold Christ for 30 pieces of silver, one month’s pay for a laborer. (Mt.26:15, Exod.21:32, Zech.11:4-14) But even in this, he fulfilled Zechariah’s prophesy.
Oh beloved, the worst sin is not committed by a non-Christian. The worst sin is committed by a professing Christian, a church member. The worse sin is not by a congregant. The worse sin is by a minister. To whom much is given much is required. (Lk.12:48, James 3:1)
And I will say this. The worst enemies of Christ and of His gospel and of His church come from within the church. It is not the Hindu or the Muslim that pretends they are Christians and offers a false Gospel of Christ. It is the traitor the pretend Christian, especially the pretend minister that is the main anti-Christ. Read Jude. (Jude 1:1-25)
Acts 20:28. Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. 29 “I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; 30 and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them.
And remember these snakes and weasels and wolves always wear a disguise. They are dishonest cowards, wicked and wily. Professing Christians! Professing pastors and preachers!
Hear what the Holy Spirit says,
2 Corinthians 11:13. For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. 14 No wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. 15 Therefore it is not surprising if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness, whose end will be according to their deeds.
The sins of superiors.
V.43. Very briefly, we see another set of traitors mentioned but not here personally. The chief priests and scribes and elders. These men are also traitors against the God of Israel putting to death the Messiah of Israel. They also aggravate their sin like Judas.
The one aggravation I want us to see by them in this situation is that they sin as religious superiors over their inferiors. (WLC 129-130, Dt.5:16, Rom.13:1, Mt.23:2)
They order their subordinates, their guards, and their slaves to go do their wicked dirty work. This is the sin of a superior against an inferior. These men were responsible before God to lead men and women and boys and girls to look for the coming Messiah, to repent of their sins and to believe and to live holy, and to love God and to love man.
Look at what they do! They are faithless shepherds. (Ezek.34:1-24, Isa.28:7-8, Isa.56:10) Wolves. They make their subordinates sin. They give their subordinates a sinful unlawful wicked order. Weasels. Not honest enough to voice their true colors. Not brave enough to fight their own battles. They are wicked puppet masters. But God is not deceived.
Now what should these men have done with such an order? Disobeyed it. And obeyed God in Christ. (Acts 5:29) And worshiped Christ.
But beloved, I will tell you something. Most of us think we would disobey a sinful order to sin against God and Man. But I am sad to say, most of us, myself included, would have arrested Christ and cried crucify, crucify. And said, we were only following orders. (i.e. the Nuremberg defense – 1945) The fear of man bringeth a snare. (Prov.29:25, Isa.8:11-15, Mt.21:46, Mk.11:27-12:17, Jn.11:48)
The danger of corruption.
V.47. Sadly, look at the apostle Peter. He pulls out a sword and cuts off the ear of the slave of the high priest. Jesus says, put your sword away. (Mt.26:52, Jn.18:11)
This is the flesh in believing man. (Rom.7:14-18, James 4:1, I Pt.2:11)
Sometimes Christians in their foolishness and sin try to advance the cause of Christ according to the flesh. Ministers of Christ are servants of Christ. We are not sent to kill men. We are sent to tell them that Christ can give them everlasting life by the merits of His death. Oh beloved, the church does not wield the sword. Christ while He was on earth did not wield the sword. Christ went to the Cross. We preach the Cross. (I Cor.2:2, Gal.6:14, 2 Tim.2:4, I Tim.4:16, 2 Tim.4:2)
One of the ways that this is done is that men go back into church history and they find some great minister and then they find that he used the sword or he promoted the sword. So much for Sola Scriptura! Zwingli supported the use of violence by Protestant Christians against Roman Catholics in the German Peasant’s War of 1525. Luther opposed it. Luther was right. Zwingli was wrong.
As an aside, Zwingli practiced what he preached. At the Battle of Kappel in 1531 he died fighting Roman Catholics. He put down the Bible. And He picked up the sword. And those that live by the sword will die by the sword. (Mt.26:52) He forgot himself beloved. He forgot the word and the example of Christ. Beloved, Protestants fighting Roman Catholics with a sword is from the flesh, it is not from God, it does not please God. It is anti-Christ. It promotes the kingdom of the devil and not the kingdom of Christ. It is not Christian. It is not Biblical.
True Christians truly love Christ and can be useful to the cause of Christ, but we still have so many faults and frailties. Beloved, only follow a Christian or a minister of Christ insofar as they follow or imitate Christ. (I Cor.11:1, I Pt.1:21, Phil.2:3-8, 2 Cor.3:18, Jn.13:12-15, 13:34, I Jn.2:6, Eph.4:32, Col.3:13, Heb.13:7, 3 Jn.1:11, I Cor.4:16, Eph.5:1, I Thess.1:6, Heb.6:12)
The weakness of faith.
V.50. And then we see all of the eleven disciples of Jesus flee from Him.
You remember earlier that day, actually just a few hours before this, all of the men said that they were willing to go to prison with Christ even to die with Jesus and to die for Jesus. (Lk.22:33, Mt.26:35)
Do I think each man meant what he said to Jesus? Yes. Each man truly believed in his heart that Christ was worth more to him than even his own life. (Jer.17:9) Oh Beloved, even true Believers do not fully know ourselves. We do not know the degree of our weakness, sin, and ignorance.
And we do not know the strength of our faith. They thought they believed more than they did. They thought they had strong faith. They were too confident in themselves. Facing a theoretical enemy is one thing. Facing a man with a sword getting ready to kill you is quite another. They feared Man. They feared death. And so they forsook Christ. They all left Jesus to His murderers. I stress ‘all’ that no one can claim exemption.
Beloved remember this, all of these eleven men were true Believers. They really did love Christ. In fact, they are all with Christ right now! Praise God for Amazing Grace. Praise God for our gracious Christ. And remember too, Jesus chose these men! He chose sinners that He would save even though He knew that they were going to continue to sin! Amazing Grace in our Amazing Christ! (Lamen.3:22)
Beloved let’s be more charitable to other Christians. Let’s try to cover over their infirmities and weaknesses and faults, and even their sins with a cloak of love. Let’s try to think more highly of other Christians than we do. (Phil.2:1-11)
Be careful Beloved against the sin of un-Christianing Christians! Remember Christ’s servants stand or fall before their Judge. And we are not the Judge. (Rom.14:4) Christ is their Judge.
I understand that Jesus says, that you will know true Believers by their fruit, a holy gospel profession adorned by holiness of life. But Beloved, be very careful of being overly critical of another Christian concerning their failures. Jesus says with the measure you use, it will be used against you. (Mt.7:1-6, James 2:1-13) Ouch.
Beloved, let’s be more sympathetic with our weaker brothers remembering that we are the weaker brothers ! 😊 (Rom.14:1-22, I Cor.8:1-13, John 6:27)
The kingdom of Christ.
The great truth we see here is the kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ is not of this world. (Jn.18:36, Mt.20:25-28, Jn.13:1-16)
The kingdom of Jesus Christ is spiritual. The kingdom of Jesus Christ is from heaven and it is heavenly designed to make men fit to live in heaven with holy God. Our King, king Christ is radically unlike any earthly king. Earthly kings have their citizens kill their enemies for them. Our king submits to being murdered by His enemies to make the enemies of God into the children of God by His blood. (Jn.1:10-13)
Beloved the application to Believers is just this. We cannot extend Christ’s spiritual kingdom with earthly or worldly means. NOT BY POLITICS! Let me say that again. Christian please do not get deceived by POLITICS. And certainly not by physical force. Christians do horrible damage to the name of Christ and the cause of Christ when they shed blood thinking they are somehow advancing the gospel of salvation. (2 Cor.10:4, Zech.4:6)
You will not find either a precept in the NT exhorting believers to use the sword for true religion or any practice by a NT apostle or disciple. None. Not one. And especially not our Lord. Our Lord is a Lamb, The Lamb. And we are called to be lamblike. (Rom.8:34-37)
The kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ extends by the ministry of the word. The Law of God goes out and once accompanied by the power of the Holy Spirit in the soul of man gifting faith and repentance – the sinner is convicted of their sins. And then the same dovelike Spirit accompanies the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ and applies the blood of the Lamb to us washing us white as snow. (WLC 67)
The kingdom of Christ is within us, in our soul. (Lk.17:20-22) The Holy Spirit resides within us. We are His holy Temple. (I Cor.6:19-20, 3:16-17, Jn.14:14-23) And the King is building His kingdom and the gates of hell will not prevail over it. Precisely because He builds it. Precisely because it belongs to Him. He saves. (Ps.2:2)
The word of God.
V.49. Our Lord Jesus Christ said all these things must take place; they must happen. And they must happen to Him, against Him. Jesus must be betrayed. He must be arrested. All of the sheep must scatter and forsake Him in the hour of His need. Jesus must go to the cross alone. No man to help Him. Must. (WSC 15-21) God has said His Christ will die for the sins of His people. Christ has said, all who come to Him He will save and raise up on the last day. Any sinner may come. No sin is too wicked. Traitors, cowards, faithless, any sinner. Come and be made whole. He will forgive you, He will love you, always. The Bible says so. Hallelujah! what a Savior! Hallelujah, what a Friend! Saving, helping, keeping, loving,
he is with me to the end.
- What kind of people does Jesus Christ save? What does this teach us about Jesus? About the people He saves? (I Cor.6:9-11, Rom.3:23, 6:23, Rom.3:9-18, Jn.3:16)
- How do we see Christ as the Lamb of God in this passage? Describe aspects of Christ’s estate of humiliation? How is this seen in this passage? (Jn.1:29, Mk.14:32-50, WLC 46-50, Gal.4:4, Heb.7:22, Phil.2:1-11, Isa.53:1-12, Isa.55:8-9)
- Christ says that this occasion is the hour and the power of darkness. How does this passage show the sin of man? And the sin of Satan governing man? How do we see spiritual warfare in this passage? Who are the combatants? What is being fought for or over? (Jn.13:3, Lk.22:53, I Jn.3:4-8, Isa.61:1-2, Job 2:3-6, Lk.22:31, Gen.3:15, Col.2:13-23, Lk.22:3, Jn.13:27, Mk.14:10-11, Jn.1:10-13, Lk.19:39-44, Rev.2:9, 3:9, Rom.2:28-29)
- Using this passage, does the church save? Why? Why not? How do churches teach that the church saves? Overtly. And subtly or covertly?
- How does Judas aggravate his sins, make them more vile before God? (Mk.14:44-45, WLC 151, Mt.22:34-40, Exod.20:1-11, Jas.3:1, Heb.13:17, Rom.14:12, Mt.26:15, Exod.21:32, Zech.11:4-14)
- How do the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders aggravate their sin? Before God or against God? And against man? Think. What office did these men hold? What did God require of them? What did they do with their office and duties? (WLC 129-130, Dt.5:16, Rom.13:1, Mt.23:2, Ezek.34:1-24, Isa.28:7-8, Isa.56:10)
- Did the guards and slaves arresting Jesus sin by obeying the orders of the chief priests their superiors? If so, how? If so, what should they have done? Why do people follow sinful orders? (Acts 5:29, Prov.29:25, Isa.8:11-15, Mt.21:46, Mk.11:27-12:17, Jn.11:48, WLC 127-128 see Christ as the ultimate Superior)
- Was Peter right or wrong using his sword in this occasion? Defend your answer with Scripture. Does Jesus commend his use of the sword in this occasion? What lessons do we learn by this? About the advancement of Christ’s kingdom? About Christians? About ministers? (Mt.26:52, Jn.18:11, Rom.7:14-18, James 4:1, I Pt.2:11, I Cor.2:2, Gal.6:14, 2 Tim.2:4, I Tim.4:16, 2 Tim.4:2, I Cor.11:1, I Pt.1:21, Phil.2:3-8, 2 Cor.3:18, Jn.13:12-15, 13:34, I Jn.2:6, Eph.4:32, Col.3:13, Heb.13:7, 3 Jn.1:11, I Cor.4:16, Eph.5:1, I Thess.1:6, Heb.6:12)
- In what ways are we sinfully critical of the failures and sins of other Christians? Of ministers? What lessons does this passage teach us as regards to the sin of sinfully judging the sins of fellow Believers? (Phil.2:1-11, Mt.7:1-6, James 2:1-13, Rom.14:1-22, I Cor.8:1-13, John 6:27)
- What are some ways that Christ is a different king than earthly kings? How is Christ’s kingdom different than earthly kingdoms? Compare and contrast His kingdom with the kingdoms of men. (Jn.18:36, Mt.20:25-28, Jn.13:1-16, Jn.1:10-13, 2 Cor.10:4, Zech.4:6, Rom.8:34-37, WLC 67, Lk.17:20-22, I Cor.6:19-20, 3:16-17, Jn.14:14-23, Ps.2:2)
- What lessons about the Bible do you learn by Christ’s statement in Mark 14:49, “all these things must take place”?