47 While he was still speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, arrived. With him was a large crowd armed with swords and clubs, sent from the chief priests and the elders of the people. 48 Now the betrayer had arranged a signal with them: “The one I kiss is the man; arrest him.” 49 Going at once to Jesus, Judas said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” and kissed him. 50 Jesus replied, “Do what you came for, friend.” Then the men stepped forward, seized Jesus and arrested him. 51 With that, one of Jesus’ companions reached for his sword, drew it out and struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his ear. 52 “Put your sword back in its place,” Jesus said to him, “for all who draw the sword will die by the sword. 53 Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels? 54 But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way?”55 In that hour Jesus said to the crowd, “Am I leading a rebellion, that you have come out with swords and clubs to capture me? Every day I sat in the temple courts teaching, and you did not arrest me. 56 But this has all taken place that the writings of the prophets might be fulfilled.” Then all the disciples deserted Him and fled.
What will you do with Jesus? Neutral you cannot be. Someday your heart will be asking. What will He do with me? Will I follow Him regardless of circumstance? Will I be a follower and betray Him, just like Judas? Or, when things get rough, and the persecution becomes real, will I deny Him? Everybody here tonight knows this story by heart. This story is not new, it happened two thousand years ago. But still the same type of people in this story, still lives today.
Each person here has made or will make a decision concerning Jesus Christ. You will follow Him, betray Him, or deny Him. Neutral you cannot be.
The Bible records many people's decisions as to what they would do with Christ. We read where Peter, James, John, Andrew, Thomas, Mary, Martha, Zacchaeus, Paul and many others who followed Jesus to the very end. Of course, as you all know the story, Peter was a strong follower of Jesus, up until Jesus was captured, and Peter denied Him three times. But even through that time of weakness for Peter…Peter became one of the most faithful follower of Jesus.
At Pentecost over 3,000 people were chosen to follow Jesus. Throughout history untold millions have made the decision to follow Jesus. Many of you here tonight, if not all of you, including myself, have decided to follow Jesus. But throughout the years many have rejected Him. Even His own people, the lost children of Israel rejected Him.
He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him.
The gospels record the fact that many Pharisees and Sadducees rejected Him. The story of the "Rich Young Ruler" chose his possessions over a relationship with the Son of God. There were 2 other men being crucified at Calvary, one on either side of Jesus. One of those men believed in Jesus, while the other chose to reject Him. Still no different in the world…in the time that we live in now, and things will not change until the day Jesus returns. Some will, Follow, Betray, And Deny Jesus. You and I, we are not excused yet from this test. Time will tell, who will continue to Follow Jesus, who will Betray Him, Or who will Deny Him.
On the day Christ was crucified, Pontus Pilate posed a question to the crowd that had gathered....
22 Pilate said to them, “What then shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?”
They all said to him, “Let Him be crucified!”
That crowd made a decision that day that they will regret eternally. My prayer is that you will not make the same mistake. I have witnessed many, who have come forward to accept Christ as Lord and Savior, they were baptized, became members, remained faithful for a period of time, but eventually made a decision to betray, and deny Christ. What I mean by betraying Jesus in the time that we live in now is…when somebody tells you, “oh I used to be a Christian, but not anymore”. For whatever reason they chose to betray Christ. It could be a death of a loved one, or someone who tested God through prayers, but didn’t receive their request. Im sure that we all have witnessed at one point or another, someone who has prayed to receive Christ, baptized, became members, but have fallen away. “I have lost my faith”, is the most common one I hear.
As we examine our selected text we will see that there were several people who made different decisions as to how they would respond to Jesus on the evening before the Crucifixion.
Many Rejected Him. One Defended Him. One Betrayed Him. Several Abandoned Him.
This passage of scripture records one of the most tragic events in history. Jesus has been praying intensely in the Garden of Gethsemane. He had asked some of His closest friends to watch and pray, but they are now fast asleep. Now, one of His own disciples, a man who had traveled with Him for 3 years arrives with a band of soldiers to arrest Him. This crowd shows up with swords and clubs to arrest Jesus. They had been sent by the Chief Priests and the Elders. These were people who rejected Jesus as Messiah.
Let me ask you this afternoon, will you reject Jesus? We all know each other here. We are all professing Christians right! Will the time come that we too will reject Jesus?
47 While he was still speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, arrived. With him was a large crowd armed with swords and clubs, sent from the chief priests and the elders of the people. 48 Now the betrayer had arranged a signal with them: “The one I kiss is the man; arrest him.” 49 Going at once to Jesus, Judas said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” and kissed him. 50 Jesus replied, “Do what you came for, friend.” Then the men stepped forward, seized Jesus and arrested Him.
Keep in mind that Judas was a follower of Jesus for three years. Witnessed miracles done by Jesus. A follower turned betrayer. This here is that part that hurts the most… “Now the betrayer had arranged a signal with them: “The one I kiss is the man; arrest him.” 49 Going at once to Jesus, Judas said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” and kissed him. 50 Jesus replied, “Do what you came for, friend.”
“Do what you came for, friend.” For somebody to be called a friend, a relationship has been established. For three years Jesus took care of Judas, Judas never lacked in anything while he was with Jesus. But still, because of fear, and greed for money, Judas betrayed the Savior.
By this point Jesus was no stranger to rejection. He was rejected at His birth and throughout His entire life. He was rejected by the Jews and Gentiles. Unfortunately, the world still rejects Jesus today! Some believe that the story of Christ as a myth or a fairytale. Others would tell you that there are “many ways to Heaven”. Just be good, do good works, that will get you to heaven.
There are also some who actually believe that Jesus is “the Way, the Truth and the Life”. They have had ample opportunity to respond positively to His offer of salvation. Yet they continue to reject Him time and time again. By rejecting, I mean, continually sinning, as if you were never saved from sin. Church, if we continue to reject Jesus Christ in a way of habitual sin, we are in danger of eternal condemnation. If you are without Christ each day, every minute, you are lost in your sins. Scripture says that you are dead in your trespasses and sins! You are headed for judgment. Even worse you are headed for an eternity in the Lake of Fire.
Again… will you continue to follow Jesus, or just live in the sin that makes me feel good? By doing so, you are betraying, and denying Christ at the same time. As we dig a little deeper, I would like to ask you another important question…when it comes to betraying Jesus, will you be just like Judas?
The word "betrayal" will forever be linked with Judas Iscariot. As we have just read from our scriptures. “48 Now the betrayer had arranged a signal with them: “The one I kiss is the man; arrest him.” 49 Going at once to Jesus, Judas said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” and kissed him. 50 Jesus replied, “Do what you came for, friend.” Then the men stepped forward, seized Jesus and arrested Him”.
You can tell the Devil was working behind the scenes in this event. Not only would Judas betray Jesus, but he would do so with a kiss! All for a mere 30 pieces of silver, which is estimated to be about 4 months wage in their time.
Let's take a moment and consider the life Judas had lived: Here is man who was numbered with the other disciples. He had traveled with them… talked with them … lived with them! People recognized him as one of Christ’s followers. When it came time to betray Christ, Judas knew exactly where to find Him! He had been with Jesus and the others in this place several times before. Judas had witnessed the character and compassion of Christ. He heard Jesus’ words and saw His works. Judas knew Jesus was the Messiah, Jesus was the Savior!
Sadly, there are still some who, like Judas, live lives filled with contradictions. They appear to have honorable intentions. They seem to care about the work of the ministry. They play the role, talk the talk and in many ways walk the walk, but eventually their true colors will be revealed. One day they will stand before the Christ they professed to know and will hear the dreadful words…
41 “Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels.
Ahhh… here is a question to those who profess to belong to Christ. Will you defend your beliefs, will you fight for Christ…defend Christ?
51 With that, one of Jesus’ companions reached for his sword, drew it out and struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his ear. 52 “Put your sword back in its place,” Jesus said to him, “for all who draw the sword will die by the sword.
As that mob surrounded Jesus, some of His closest followers were there. I would imagine that the disciples were furious at Judas for betraying their Master. Keep in mind, Judas was one of them…for three years. Certainly, they were devastated at the thought of Him being seized and arrested.
And (as usual) Peter decided to take matters into his own hands. He grabs his sword and cuts off the “servant of the high priest’s ear”. In Luke’s Gospel we read that Jesus reached down and put the man’s ear back on the man. Jesus rebuked Peter for this act – v52, “Put your sword back in its place,” Jesus said to him, “for all who draw the sword will die by the sword”. Peter had the best intention, but he went about things the wrong way. But I think we can learn from Peter's passion. We should not sit back and allow our Savior to be attacked. We should stand up for Jesus.
By standing up for Jesus means that we recognize the fact that we belong to Him. We should stand for Jesus in the way we live our lives. Reflecting Jesus amongst others. Fighting the battle to overcome sin. Remember last weeks message… we are all in a battle, every day, every minute. This is how we stand for Jesus… win the battle.
Jesus is under attack in the world today, we must take a stand and defend our faith. Today, more than ever we need Christians who will stand up for Jesus! We should be courageous, we should be bold, we should be biblical, and we must put on the whole armor of God. The victory has already been won and we are on the winning side. Remember what Paul said in - Romans 8:31…
31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?
Persecution and opposition will continue to increase. So, Church, let us be willing to defend Jesus! When the true testing comes. Remember… “To Follow, To Betray, Or To Deny”.
Let me ask another question, will we underestimate Jesus power?
53 Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and He will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels? 54 But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way?”
A Legion is anywhere from 3000 to 6000 soldiers, in this story, angels. Going up against Judas and a large crowd as scripture has told.
After Jesus rebuke’s Peter, He goes on to explain the great power at His disposal. He said, “Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and He will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels?” A legion consisted of 6,000, so Jesus is saying that He could call more than 72,000 angels if He desired. Though He had this power, He refused to use it because He sought to glorify the Father Who sent Him. Listen to what Jesus said in - John 12:27
27 “Now My soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save Me from this hour’? But for this purpose, I came to this hour. 28 Father, glorify Your name.”
Jesus didn’t call the legions of angels because the scriptures must be fulfilled! Jesus didn’t call the legions of angels because of His love for you and me! Jesus didn’t call the legions of angels in order to save us from our sins! I think it is safe to say that Peter underestimated the power of his Master. Many times, we do the same thing...we underestimate the power of Jesus. We look at the condition of the world around us and raise our hands and say, “Oh no, what are we going to do?”
Things are on a rapid downward spiral and sometimes we feel that we have no hope. We have a tendency to look at the problem instead of looking at the POWER OF THE SAVIOR! In Luke 21:28… Jesus was speaking about the end times…
28 Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near.”
Remember, our true testing will soon come. Things are bad... and they are going to get much worse, but Jesus said ... “look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near.” Don't forget His promises, remember that He is all powerful and everywhere, at all times. Whatever may come your way, it is not bigger than your God! Don't underestimate His power.
If you would look with me to verses 55-56 there is one last question I would like to ask…
Will you abandon, or deny Jesus?
55 In that hour Jesus said to the crowd, “Am I leading a rebellion, that you have come out with swords and clubs to capture me? Every day I sat in the temple courts teaching, and you did not arrest me. 56 But this has all taken place that the writings of the prophets might be fulfilled.” Then all the disciples deserted Him and fled.
“Then all the disciples deserted Him and fled”. Judas has betrayed Jesus and now the rest of the disciples flee in fear. Peter just cut a man’s ear off defending Jesus and now he is gone away and soon will deny Him 3 times. John, The devoted apostle of Love is gone. Andrew, James, Thomas, Thaddeus and the others are nowhere to be found.
These followers of Jesus had spent 3 years watching miracle after miracle. They had heard the preaching and teaching of Jesus. They had seen him cast out demons, heal the sick and cleanse lepers. They had even seen Him raise people from the dead... but now feared for their lives. Things got tough and they abandoned their Master! Sadly, this is still going on in many churches today. The most common excuse is, “I’ve lost my faith”. Newsflash, you never had it!!!
Jesus experienced the most horrific agony that any man has ever faced, and His closest friends abandoned Him! Church, I want you to know that everything Jesus faced, He faced for you and
Being betrayed by Judas, being denied by Peter being rejected by the crowds, all of it was for you! The false trial, the mocking, the scourging, and the pain of the cross... it was all for you! Jesus sacrificed His life to save you from your sins, He did what He did to deliver you from Hell. He has gone to prepare you a home in Heaven. He loved you, in spite of all that you have done. Will you abandon Him still when things get rough? Better yet, have you already abandoned Him?
Many people proclaim to be devoted to Christ and then when tragedy happens or persecution begins they walk away from Him. Jesus didn’t walk away from God’s plan when we faced such agony in the Garden. He didn’t call that legion of angels to deliver Him. Though all the disciples left Him, He persevered, He faced everything He faced in order to secure out redemption!
Each person here today must face this reality. How will you respond when the true tests comes? Will you persevere, because Christ lives in you? or will you betray, and deny Him because all you really did was profess to be a follower?
You cannot be neutral… You are… “To Follow, To Betray, Or To Deny.”
31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?
“If God is for us, who can be against us?”
Pastor Richard Santos
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