Judas left the Upper Room before hearing Jesus' profound final teachings to his disciples, including to love one another, that Jesus is the way/truth/life, and that disciples must abide in Jesus like branches abiding in a vine. Daniel Hooton speculates how hearing these teachings may have impacted Judas and implores listeners not to make Judas' mistake by leaving God's presence and missing out on transformational teachings from Jesus. Daniel invites any who feel distant from God to return and abide in Christ's love through baptism and Christian fellowship.
Good morning. I am very happy to be here this morning. I'm very thankful that all of you are here. I'm thankful to our visitors. We have several visitors with us in the audience this morning and we're very thankful for your presence and we're just thankful to be here to be able to worship God and to be able to sing praises and to study from his word.
So I'll start off with a story. On January 19th, 2013, the San Antonio Spurs and the Miami Heat are facing each other in game six of the NBA Finals. This is a must win game for Miami because San Antonio is leading the series 3 2. And as the game started, it was relatively close from the beginning, and then we get all the way through the first, the second, and the third quarter.
In the fourth quarter, with 28. 2 seconds left, San Antonio is up 94. to 89. Only five points. And at this point, scores of Miami Heat fans stand up and they start walking out of the arena. They start leaving. They've given up on their team. And you can even hear the announcers saying, like, what are you doing?
It's only five points. Anyone that's ever watched a basketball game knows that five points over the course of 30 seconds is nothing. Why are you leaving? And the camera would just keep turning, and it would show all these Miami fans leaving, get outside of the arena, start walking to their cars. And then, over the course of that 28.
2 seconds, the Miami Heat came back and they tied it, and they forced an overtime. And then, in glorious retribution, the cameras turn and they see all of those Miami fans come running back to the arena. Knocking at the door, begging to be let in, to no avail, because if you know on those tickets it says this ticket is not for re entry.
And sure enough, in that overtime, Miami would go on to win the game, forcing a game 7 in the series, and Miami ultimately ended up winning that NBA championship. I apologize to any Spurs fans that might be here. I know there's a couple that are not here, which is why it makes it a little bit easier to get this.
illustration because they may not be as upset with me, but I think that point is very clear that you can miss something great if you choose to leave too early. And Reagan has talked up here many times over the course of the year, two, three years that my wife had been here about his aha moments where he's studying from the Bible and then he sees something that he had never seen before.
And he comes to learn in that piece that the Gospel is a beautiful, ever changing document. That we can learn something new every day. And I had one of those revelations a few weeks ago during our Sunday morning Bible class when we were studying the events of the Upper Room.
And what I learned is that Judas chose to leave the upper room before one of the greatest narratives of Jesus's earthly life. This morning, let's focus on what Judas didn't get to hear. The Gospels offer differently detailed descriptions of these events. The Gospel of Matthew only spans about 9 verses from the point that they enter the upper room to the point that they leave for the Mount of Olives.
Whereas the Gospel of Luke, similarly, only provides 24 verses. But the Gospel of John The Gospel of John provides us five whole chapters on this discourse that Jesus gives. And we primarily, when we're thinking of these moments, we're thinking about the institution of the Lord's Supper, which is absolutely very important and absolutely something that we should study and become familiar with.
But, John turns his focus elsewhere and gives us one of the most profound and revealing sermons that Jesus preached.
Why didn't Judas hear these truths? Because he chose to leave the room. Jesus at one point during the Passover meal is disclosing to his disciples that one of you will betray me. And the disciples are understandably distraught. I mean, how would you imagine he would respond if Jesus were to look at you and to say one of you It's going to be the reason I die.
And they're asking him over and over, Lord, is it I? They're going down one at a time. Lord, is it I? Lord, is it I? Until it comes to Judas. And then Judas asks, Lord, is it I?
And Judas finds out that Judas, or excuse me, that Jesus tells Judas there.
Let's read Matthew chapter 26. Matthew chapter 26. We're going to read from that moment. Matthew 26 verse 21. And as they were eating, he said, Truly I say to you, one of you will betray me. And they were very sorrowful, and began to say to him one after another, Lord, Lord, Is it I? He answered, He who has dipped his hand in the dish with me will betray me.
The Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed. It would have been better for that man. If he had not been born Judas, who would betray him? Answered. Is it I Rabbi he said to him, you have said so. And obviously we have known this as the reader from earlier in the gospel, that there's a very specific moment where Judas goes to the chief priests earlier in that same chapter around verse 14 and says, what will you give me if I deliver him over to you?
So this isn't something that Judas is just finding out right now. He has been.
But John tells us that once Jesus made this known to Judas, in John chapter 13, let's flip over there. We're going to be spending a good amount of our time there for the rest of the sermon. John chapter 13, we have a little bit more of a extended version of what we just read, starting in verse 21. After saying these things, Jesus was troubled in his spirit and testified, Truly I say to you, one of you will betray me.
The disciples looked at one another, uncertain of whom he spoke. One of his disciples, whom Jesus loved, was reclining at the table at Jesus side. So Simon Peter motioned to him to ask Jesus of whom he was speaking. So that disciple, leaning back against Jesus, said to him, Who is it? Jesus answered, It is he to whom I will give this morsel of bread when I have dipped it.
So when he had dipped the morsel, he gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot. Then after he had taken the morsel, Satan entered into him. Jesus said to him, What you are going to do, Now, no one at the table knew why He said this to him. Some thought that because Judas had the money bag, Jesus was telling him, buy what we need for the feast, or that he should give something to the poor.
So, after receiving the morsel of bread, he immediately went out, and it was night. Judas left the room. So, now that Judas is gone, Jesus moves into this dialogue that shares many important things for his believers, even us, uh, even us here at the Timberland Drive Church of Christ. So let's move on in verse, starting in verse 34.
We're not going to be able to cover everything that Jesus talks about over the course, otherwise we'd be here for a couple of hours. But, we're going to hit the high points. And the first one is starting in verse 34. John 13, verse 34, Jesus says, A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, just as I have loved you.
You also are to love one another. By this, all people will know that you are my disciples if you have love for one another.
Why is this a new commandment? Because if we think back in Deuteronomy chapter 6 verse 5, it's written that, You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind. Does this new commandment change that?
We as Christians need to love the Lord our God with all our heart. All our soul and all our mind. But also Jesus is stressing here and placing emphasis that we need to love each other just as he loved us,
that Jesus wants people to see the love that his disciples. have for each other. He wants people to look at his disciples and see that distinguishing mark that separates Christians from the rest of the world. And that distinguishing mark is love. Just like the proverbial author wrote in Proverbs chapter 3, verse 3, that love should be bound around our neck and be written on the tablet.
And why is love important? Kind of a silly question, but let's turn over to 1 John, because we all know why love is important, but 1 John makes it very clear. 1 John chapter 4, starting in verse 16.
So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love. And whoever abides in love, abides in God, and God abides in him. By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as He is, so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear, for fear has to do with punishment, and whatever fears perfected in love.
We love because He first loved us. We love because He first loved us. The love of God should be reflected in every action of our lives. If we're claiming to be a, a changed soul and we're refusing to love the brethren, we're refusing to love the people around us. We, Paul writes in, uh, first Corinthians that we are nothing more than a a, a clanging gong or noisy gong or a clanging symbol.
If anybody here has ever been in band, a symbol is really annoying by itself. It's, no, it definitely makes noise, but it's not noise worth listening to. So if we're sitting here, we're claiming to be changed by the love of God, but we're still not showing that love to the people around us.
Jesus didn't just love all people. He loved all people more than himself. And that fact was ultimately proven to be true as he hung on the cross of Calvary so that the sins of the world
Jesus said himself in John chapter 15, This is the kind of love that is expected of us. A love willing to give what needs to be given for the good of another. Judas didn't get to hear that. And then if we keep moving on in John chapter 14, starting in verse 1, Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God.
Believe also in Me. In My Father's house there are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and take you to Myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going. Thomas said to Him, Lord, we do not know where You're going.
How can we know the way? Jesus said to him. I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you had known me, then you would have known my Father also. From now on, you do not know Him. Excuse me. From now on, you do know Him. And Philip said to him, Lord, show us the Father and it is enough for us.
Jesus said to him, Have I been with you for so long that you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, show us the Father? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you, I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me.
Believe me, that I am in the Father, and the Father is in me. Or else, believe on account of the works for themselves. Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do, and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.
If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it. Jesus said to him, I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. Jesus begins this section with words of comfort. Believe in God. Believe also in me. Let not your hearts be troubled. But then, Jesus moves into this monologue suggesting that he is going to be leaving.
And Thomas is just confused for a second. And he says, well, we don't even know where you're going. How are we supposed to know the way? And then Jesus drops the bombshell that we just read. I am the way. Jesus is the way. And Jesus as the one way to the Father reminds me of what the Hebrew author wrote in chapter, Hebrews chapter 10.
Let's turn over there. Hebrews chapter 10, verse 19.
Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain that is through his flesh.
We know that in the tabernacle, the holy place was separated by a curtain and that only the Levitical priests were able to go and be in the presence of God. And what we also know. Amen. Amen. In Matthew 27, that the curtain to the holy place was torn when Jesus gave up his spirit on that cross. And the Hebrew author here is drawing a comparison that to that torn veil and how we now have access into God's presence through the torn flesh of Jesus.
There is salvation in nobody else than Jesus. He is the only way to salvation. But he didn't just stop there. Jesus said, I am the way. But Jesus also said, I am the truth. And this, for me, this was the more obscure part of the three, because I had to ask for help on this one. And understanding, what does that mean?
What does Jesus mean when he is saying, I am the truth? When Jesus made this statement, he was making a claim to deity. That Jesus was making it clear. That he is the originator and the communicator of truth. That is the good news of salvation. That Jesus is the truth. But not just that. Jesus is the life.
Jesus came to earth to bring life. Not physical life. Jesus came to bring spiritual life. And he is able to confer eternal life to those that believe in him. What do we read in John chapter 3 verse 16? For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not die, but have eternal life.
Just as Thomas questions how one is to find heaven, Jesus delivers an answer that encompasses all that we need to know about Him. There is no salvation. He is God, the originator of truth and salvation. And in Him, we can have eternal life with God. Judas did not get to hear that. Then we move on to John chapter 15.
John chapter 15, verses 1 through 11. I am the true vine. And my father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit, he takes away. And every branch that does bear fruit, he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean, because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you.
As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine. You are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me, he is thrown away like a branch and withers.
And the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire. If you abide in Me and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish and it will be done for you. By this My Father is glorified that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples. As the Father has loved Me, so have I loved you. Abide in My love.
If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.
This next portion of Jesus sermon should comfort us and terrify us at the same time. Now Jesus draws this illustration of us being branches from the true vine, and He is, He's illustrating our life connection to Him. That we as the branches cannot survive without the vine. And these branches are expected to bear fruit.
If a branch bears fruit, it is pruned or maintained so that it can continue. But if it does not bear fruit, then it is thrown away, only to be burned. And many understand that these branches represent individual believers that are being judged by the good results that are coming from their lives, probably in terms of bringing benefit to the lives of others, or advancing the work of God in the world.
But Jesus is encouraging His disciples to bear much fruit and prove to be his disciples. He reminds us that if we keep his commandments, we can abide in his love and that paints just a beautiful picture of the relationship that we can have with Jesus. Judas didn't get to hear that.
How would these thoughts have been? beneficial to Judas. If Judas had heard the New Commandments, maybe he would have chosen to have a loving relationship with Jesus instead of turning him over to his murderers for 30 pieces of silver.
What if Judas had been there when Jesus said, I am the way, the truth, and the life. When Judas realized his mistake and he tried to return the money only to be shunned by the chief priest. He chose to run away from the way and refused grace through true repentance and took his own life. If Judas had truly known that Jesus was the truth, God in the flesh, he may have chosen to accept that he needed to repent and pursue God.
Or if Judas had known that Jesus was the life, he might have understood the impact of his actions and come to Jesus to be forgiven of his sins. But instead of choosing to live, he took his own life. What if Judas had heard Jesus teach about the branches that did not yield good fruit? He might have realized the eternal result of his choices and chosen to walk a different path into the abiding love of Jesus.
But in his grief, he failed to see forgiveness as an option. And of course this is all speculation because we know what Judas did. We know the impact of his actions and the result being Jesus hanging on the cross. But it's difficult not to think about what could have happened if Judas had just stayed in the room with Jesus.
In a few days, the calendar will transition into a new year. And people all over the world are going to sit down and they're going to write their resolutions. How can I better myself? How can I be a better person? May I just offer those lessons as a starting point? Make 2024 the year that you love better.
That people look at you and they see that distinguishing mark of a Christian. And in that reflection, they can be awestruck by the love, the steadfast love of God the Father.
May 2024 be the year that you scream from the rooftops that Jesus Christ is the only way to salvation. That He is the truth. He offers life over death. And He is the truth that can set you free.
May 2024 be the year that you hold to the true vine. And provide the good fruit expected of you that can guide you into the abiding love of Jesus Christ. That we can be rooted and grounded in that true vine.
But this is the main point that I wanted to get across when speaking about Judas this morning.
Right now, you may be in the room with Judas. Excuse me, you may be in the room with Judas. And I don't know your heart. I don't know what trials and tribulations you're facing. I don't know what storms are trying to drag you down. But regardless of what Satan is trying to do to tear you down, do not leave the room.
Jesus is speaking to you through every sermon, every prayer, every hymn that we sing, every Lord's Supper talk, every Bible class, every Bible verse we read. that is open in front of us. Jesus is speaking to you,
and you have a decision to make. You can choose to stay in the room and sit at the feet of the Great Teacher, or you can give in to Satan's lures and choose to pursue life's vain pleasures. And as I have gotten older I have become achingly familiar with the heartbreak that comes from watching friends and family leave.
The room and choose to run away from Jesus, that's going to be a reality. And it hurts to think that if they had just stuck around, if they had just heard that one verse, if they had just heard that one verse that changed them for the better, that mystified them and transformed them to want to stay into the fold of God, that they could have been there to hear it.
Don't find yourself on the outside looking in. Because you chose the easy path
and who knows maybe there's someone here this morning that is on the outside looking in But here's the good news. That door is always open. That Jesus beckons you in to Abide with him in his love and to be called his friends. The great teacher, the Son of God wants to have a relationship with you.
And that relationship is stronger than any temptation, every trial that seems like it's stronger than what you can handle, or that struggle that Satan puts in your heart. That relationship is enough to carry you through.
Jesus said himself, in Matthew chapter 28, And behold, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. So if you're here, if you're contemplating leaving the room, if you think that it would just be easier to just give in to whatever Satan is doing, it just seems easier to not have to fight him, do not leave the room.
Stick around and let Jesus speak to you in ways that He, only He can do.
And if you're here and you want to be in that room, Jesus is standing with arms opening. He's beckoning, beckoning you into the fold of grace and mercy where you can spend eternity with the great physician who heals all pain. You can spend eternity with the great teacher who can answer all your questions.
You can spend eternity with the lamb who gave his life, so that you can have eternal life. If that's you, you feel yourself outside looking in, you want to be with Jesus, we have the water here to baptize you, to wash you of your sins that can help you enter into the abiding love of Jesus Christ, which is the best place to be.
We encourage you to come forward as we stand and as we sing.