Judas, Compassionate Betrayer

But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (he who was about to betray him), said, “Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?” He said this, not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief, and having charge of the moneybag he used to help himself to what was put into it. (John 12:4–6, ESV)

Lots of people are trying to make Jesus into some kind of social worker concerned with redistribution of wealth like any good liberal. However, if you want a biblical picture of a liberal, look no further than Judas Iscariot.

It appears on the surface as if Judas is very compassionate. He is compassionate about the poor. He is compassionate about redistributing money and a fair share. But mostly he is compassionate about Judas. He is like today’s liberal politician or Christian – he is very compassionate about other people’s money. Mostly so he can get his cut. He looks at the pure nard perfume as a cash windfall, and wants to use compassion for the poor as a cover for getting his fingers on it. He tries to lay a guilt trip on Mary about the waste and the expense so he can slip a few coins into his own pocket, and makes himself look holier-than-thou in the process.

The bottom line is he is the one who is guilty of theft, betrayal and hypocrisy. Interesting how those tend to go together. He looks like a believer but underneath his whitewash the love of money drives him to steal and eventually sell out our Messiah Jesus. So many today are spiritual descendants of this man. On the surface they look holy and spout biblical one-liners like they really mean them. Yet they betray Jesus with every dollar pinched and every selfish agenda pushed. Hands are in the cookie jar or held out for a 30-piece “fair share” payoff while pious lips stridently preach concern for others. They have no intention of practicing what they preach. Secretly they sell Jesus out by trading His precious Word for the kingdoms of the world. And look good doing it too.

Funny how Jesus didn’t do anything about it at the time. He just kept feeding Judas rope until he had enough to hang himself.

Relating to People in the Bible

There are different Bible people I identify with at different times. But probably the one I most identify with is John the Baptist. He was “the voice of one crying in the wilderness” and called out for repentance saying “prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight” (Matthew 3; Mark 1; Isaiah 40). There is no record of him healing anyone, or raising the dead, making blind people see or casting out demons. All he did was preach the Word and baptize. Out in the desert. With funky garments and a slim diet of grasshoppers and wild honey (imagine arguing with killer bees for THAT). I could stand to go on a diet, but grasshoppers and wild honey?

I might not be eating the same stuff or wearing the same clothes, but I definitely feel I’m out in the desert preaching repentance to rocks. But the message needs to go out. And Jesus is coming, and I think coming soon. The church I think is by and large succumbing to philosophies of men so somebody has to do it.

So which biblical figure do you relate to, and why?

Maturity and the Gifts

One thing I have observed from the Word is that every biblical record of a person exercising the power of the Spirit was a mature believer, who had been in the Word and discipleship for a long time. It seems plain to me from these testimonies that the power of the Spirit comes on the heels of an intimate relationship with the Father fostered by a deep study of, and obedience to, the Word of God. One possible exception is Balaam’s donkey, but she wasn’t a person and I think this just demonstrates that the Father can use any vessel He chooses. And don’t get me started on the puns I can make from this. Ass me no questions and I’ll tell you no lies. Another possible exception might be Cornelius in Acts 10, but it is clear from the context that he has been at it a long time. It doesn’t appear to me from the Word that ‘rookies’ had a great deal to do with relaying the power of God.

Church Dysfunction

I’ve had folks tell me that they and their churches are functioning well without parts of the Bible (or Law). They still don’t look like the first century church, but apparently that’s okay and, well, the missing laws don’t really matter. I’m told any dysfunction I see (or people measure) is a good thing due to welcoming all types with open arms. So of course this book is off base to them; they don’t see anything wrong.

I don’t agree. The mere fact that the whole of the Word is not taught or practiced by the church in general is by itself a huge indicator of building on sand. The facts that discipleship is not effective and the fruit of the Spirit is in short supply are signs that something is not right. If the dysfunction was just from welcoming any sinner, you’d think after a while the old hands would not be as dysfunctional. The fruit of the Spirit would be popping out all over. We’d easily be able to make new Bible disciples, too. But the dysfunction affects long-time attendees the same as new ones. It affects old-line denominations just like newer ones. Based on observation, education, personal experience, other people’s testimony, and professional surveys we need a lot of improvement. We need to repent and get back to the first century church whole Bible practice.

How could anyone be happy with what we’ve got? The church in Acts was full of the fire of the Spirit, growing in love and power and community. The church of today is, um, not so much. The difference is in a whole Bible belief and practice. We still have a little fire, and there are good things being accomplished. We do a good job attracting people with a rock concert or revival, and not so good keeping them going in the faith. We’re great at making decisions for Christ; not so great at making disciples. The people who think everything’s okay are either not paying attention or are like the proverbial frog in a pot of water being slowly brought up to boil (they won’t jump out and will die if you do it slowly enough). I’m sure the people before the flood thought everything was fine. Israel ignored or outright killed prophets for suggesting that all was not right in Jerusalem. The skies were clear over Sodom and Gomorrah the day it rained fire and brimstone too. Some won’t know they’ve got a sandy foundation until the storm hits.

‘Whole Bible Christianity’ chapter 1 A Part Bible Church

Rating the Pastors

Back to the chart showing how pastors think about the job they are doing.

A more accurate rating should be: How well does your flock know the Bible, and how well do they live it?

Is your divorce rate, like so many churches, the same as the world’s?

Is your suicide rate, again as with so many churches, the same as the world’s?

Do your congregants use anti-anxiety drugs like the bread of communion?

Do the people with money have more influence and power than the poorer members?

Do you follow the whole of the Word, observing His holy days, His dietary guidelines, and His instructions for cleanliness? If not, why not? Have you instead been taken captive by philosophy and empty deceit according to human tradition, precepts and teachings and elemental spirits of the world and not according to Christ? (Colossians 2)

Are the discipline instructions in Matthew 18:15-20 followed in your church? Why not?

Jesus said that those who hear His words and do not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on sand. How do we know our house is on sand? When the rain falls, floods come and winds blow and beat against the house, it falls down.

How many times has your “house fallen down” in upheaval and turmoil because of a pastor change? How many pastors do you know have fallen into transgression such as adultery and drug abuse?

Which is more common in your church, the fruit of the Spirit or works of the flesh? (Galatians 5:16-26)

Does your church look anything like the first century church?

Now how high does your pastor rate?

Do you think there’s a deeper meaning to the fact that diplomas are called “sheepskins?” As in, “wolves in sheep’s clothing?

Right Standing

God never intends for His people to stand in one place once we gain right standing with Him. He wants us to move. The beginning of our movement should be in taking on all of His ways as spelled out in His Law. It is the best discipleship system ever designed, and is guaranteed to produce fruit that is pleasing to God.

The Holy Spirit uses it to tutor us in the way we should go, and when we get ‘all grown up,’ it still functions to guard and protect. His Word is the foundation on which we can build a house that honors Him in every area. His Law is love in action, and through it we learn how to love Him and how to love others as well.