Teaching Sermons For Pastors and Laymen

A Tragic Beginning, A Tragic End                                                                 February 28, 2006

   Matthew 27:3-27:5

Tonight I want to share an unusual message (or lesson) with you, a message (or lesson) that comes out of Matthew Chapter 27.


I’ll read verses 3, 4 and 5.


3 Then Judas, which had betrayed him, when he saw that he was condemned, repented himself, and brought again the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders,
4 Saying, I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood. And they said, What is that to us? see thou to that.
5 And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself.


The message (or lesson) is titled, “a tragic beginning, and a tragic ending.”


Some stories start out bad and end good, some start out good and end good, and some start out bad and keep getting worse, ending in tragedy.


Let’s pray.


There was a strange man who had come into the area, one who was dressed kind of outlandishly.


He was wearing camel’s hair.


He also had an usual diet; his was a diet of locust and honey.


And he had come to the banks of the Jordan River in the wilderness preaching about someone the people were anticipating.


But they did not realize that He had already come.


This strange man I am sure you all know, was John the Baptist, and he came crying, "There comes one after me whose shoes I am not worthy to bear."


He said, "He must increase, but I must decrease."


This is something we each ought to remember.

The lonely man of Galilee wandered to the shores of the Jordan River.


John the Baptist looked and pointed to this man, Jesus, the Son of God, and shouted, "Behold, the Lamb of God that taketh away the sins of the world."


Multitudes came to hear this unusual preacher, this evangelist who preached with a passion no other evangelist had ever preached with.


This strange man had a certain charisma and magnetism, although he was crude in his approach.


Then he gave the invitation.


He told people that if they wanted to come to Jesus, the Lamb of God, that they would have come down into the water of repentance; and one came, then another, and then another.

In that crowd that day it is speculated by some historians, was Judas Iscariot.


And he probably saw his friends walking down into the water, down the aisle, and he said to himself, "I think I had better walk down, also."


But no doubt, he was not willing to admit that he was a sinner.


No doubt it was hard for him to admit he was lost.


Perhaps he was much like Cain in the Old Testament who wanted to make his own way.


You see, God’s way was to come with a blood sacrifice, but Cain was looking for an easier, more acceptable way, for he was a farmer who lived off the grain of the field, and he tried to offer up that as a sacrifice.

No doubt Judas came down, made a profession of his faith in Jesus Christ, and maybe he was saved that day.


Some people say Judas never was saved, yet there are others who say Jesus would never have chosen him if he had not been saved.


I don’t know when, or how, or if.—no one really knows the nature of Judas heart, but without a doubt he came because others came.


Maybe it was peer pressure that caused him to follow John the Baptist and Jesus.


Maybe it was the thing to do, the popular thing that caused him to go along.


Judas was a man of reputation.


He had a good business reputation, he was respectable and for him to say, "I am not saved," was not good for his reputation.

Can you imagine how he felt when the hands of John the Baptist went around his waist and under his arms, and lowered him into the Jordan River?


"Could it be?" he thought.


"This is mockery, I am not really sure that I am right with God."


Perhaps he said, "I know what I’ll do, I will just admit that my heart is not right with God.


But I can’t do that, I am respectable.


People will laugh at me; they would make fun of me if I were to admit that I was a sinner."

Christian friends, listen to me.


I am not trying to scare anyone who is genuinely saved; but perhaps there is one here who is not.


I would like to cause some unrest in the hearts of those who are not known by others as a sinner, but you know you are lost in your heart and you are going to hell and you have never been born by the Spirit of the Living God.


Jesus said, “You must be born again.”


Judas Iscariot did not admit it in the Jordan River when baptized by the same hand that lowered our Savior into the water; he was too proud to admit that his heart was not right with God.

Time passed, and one day Jesus calls some men upon the mountain in Matthew chapter 10.


He chooses 12 men that would be His apostles, the men that he would train to carry the gospel around the world after he had gone back to heaven.


He began to call their names, "Peter, Andrew, James, Philip, Bartholomew," and then to the shock of Judas Iscariot, his name was called, "Judas."


He was chosen to be one of the twelve disciples that would walk and live with Jesus, to see blind eyes open and deaf ears unstopped, and to see the lame walk again, and demons cast out.


He would see Jesus bless the little children and calm the story seas.


He was chosen to be trained by Jesus himself, as one of the disciples, a full time worker for Jesus Christ.

Can you imagine the ordination service?


When Jesus placed his hands on Judas head, no doubt Judas thought, "I ought to get right now. I ought to admit that I am not right. I ought to get up right now and take care of this thing. I ought to, but they might laugh at me. This would embarrass me. I don’t want to admit that my heart isn’t right with God; they all think that I am O.K. I don’t want to admit that I am not born again."


But he who is afraid to be embarrassed in front of a few will someday be embarrassed before the whole world when he stands before God at the White Throne Judgment.

Let me recap a few things for you.


Judas is ordained, he has been baptized by John, and he has walked down the aisle, and now is a member of the church.


Now he is a preacher, if you please.

Listen to me; I don’t care what you have done.


I don’t care where you sit.


I don’t care what position you hold in the business world.


I don’t care if it embarrasses you or if you are afraid it will embarrass me.


Do not take a chance with your never dying soul that will burn forever if you are not right with God.

I want to ask you right now; have you been born again?  


Was there a time in your life where you knelt and realized that you were a sinner and you knew that Christ died for you, and you knelt upon your knees and said, "God, I am a sinner" and on that basis you trusted Jesus as your Savior?


Did you ask Him to forgive you of your sins and then you repented.


Did you ask Him?

Or did you just sign a card at the alter, or join the church.


Did you shake hands with the pastor, or did you just kind of grow into it?


Judas Iscariot was a church member; he was baptized by John the Baptist.


The Bible said that only Jesus was greater than John the Baptist.


Judas was chosen to be one of the twelve.


He carried the gospel, he walked with Jesus, and he was trained by Jesus.

So as Jesus’ ministry began to grow, the offerings got so big they had to have somebody to take care of the offerings.


They had a meeting among the church members, and someone said, "There is a man among us that I trust more than anyone in the church, and that is Judas Iscariot.  I make a motion that Judas Iscariot becomes the treasurer of this group."

It was unanimous; for I am sure everyone had confidence in Judas Iscariot.


So they gave him the purse; they gave him the money.


They didn’t have banks in that day, so Judas literally carried the money; he was the treasurer who took care of God’s money.

Now as Jesus laid the money bag in Judas’ lap, Judas no doubt thought, "Now, this is the time. I should have admitted that I was lost at the Jordan. I should have admitted it when I was chosen to be one of the disciples. But now I will stand up and say, ’Fellows, I cannot be your treasurer because I am not right with God."’


But pride kept him from doing it.


Pride has destroyed millions of people.


Some of you might be thinking, "I have no pride." But if you are, you are the most prideful.

Judas continues as a church member, baptized now by John, chosen as 1 of the 12, chosen as treasurer, the trusted one.


Judas Iscariot was no doubt at the well when he saw the fallen woman turn to Jesus and trust Him.


I wonder if he thought to himself on that day, "I ought to do what she has done. I ought to admit that I am lost."


No doubt he was there when Matthew the tax collector stood up and gave his testimony on how he was crooked, but now he had been set free by the grace of God.


Maybe his heart burned that day and he thought, "I Judas ought to come clean."

The scene changes and in just a few hours Jesus is going to Calvary.


No doubt they were already preparing the tree, scraping off the bark.


Court is about to convene, the disciples are in the Upper Room and Judas Iscariot is sitting there.


Jesus takes a towel and a basin of water and begins to wash the disciple’s feet.


Can you imagine how Judas Iscariot felt when the Son of God began to wash his feet?


"Now is the time, I ought to admit it.  Now is the time, I need to settle this thing right now, time is running out.  Calvary is just around the corner, and I know Jesus is about to die."

Judas perhaps thought, "I ought to get up right now and swallow my pride, and admit that my heart is desperately wicked. But people will laugh at me; people will think I am a hypocrite because I have been quiet. I can’t do that. I have even cast out devils."


You see, the Bible says that one day there will be men who will stand before God and he will say, "Depart from me, you workers of iniquity, I never knew you."


And they will say, "We cast out devils in your name" and he is going to say, "I never knew you."

But Judas, who cast out devils, who was 1 of the 12 most respected men in Christianity at the time, a man that was trusted, could not do it.

Judas I beg you, please Judas, break from your pride.


Judas break from this spirit that won’t let you admit your sin.


Break from your embarrassment, break from the shame.


Break Judas, run to Jesus, run to Jesus.


Time is running out Judas, run to Jesus.

Now the scene shifts, a few hours have passed.


Jesus is giving Judas the sop, Judas has been pointed out as the betrayer.


Jesus goes to the garden of Gethsemane where he agonizes in prayer.


The Bible said great drops of blood came from Him.


Everyone had forsaken Him, and He found his own disciples, minus Judas, asleep and He said, "Will you not tarry with me for 1 hour."

This is the same question that Jesus has asked each of us, will you not tarry for 1 hour?


Won’t you be willing to give a little time to spend with Jesus to tell Him you love Him?

All at once, out of the shadows of the garden, came the centurion with his spear, and a group of men with clubs and torches, shouting insults at the Son of God.


There was a signal that Judas would give; he ran and kissed Jesus and identified that He was the one.


It was the kiss of death; Judas sold Jesus for 30 pieces of silver.

And today there are some who are selling him for far less.


Selling out because they are ashamed to admit that they are not born again.


Don’t make the same foolish mistake Judas made.

As Jesus was kissed on the cheek by Judas, no doubt Judas thought, "This is the Son of God, I should have trusted Him. I should have trusted him at the Jordan River. I should have trusted him on the mountainside. I should have trusted Him in the wilderness. I should have trusted him as my Savior when I became treasurer. I should have trusted Him as my Savior when Matthew gave his testimony and Zacchaeus got saved, and the woman at the well got converted and blind Bartimaeus was healed. I should have trusted Jesus Christ when I saw Him bless the little children and calm the mighty seas. I should have trusted Him, I should do it now. But I can’t, I am respected. What will men say?"

The Bible says that the fear of men brings a snare.


How many people have gone into eternity without God simply because they looked beside them, and they saw their friend kind of grin when the pastor gave the alter call?


How many sweethearts sat there and rejected the invitation to be saved, because of the fear of what their sweetheart or that companion or that father or that mother might say?

Judas missed the chance of truly kissing the Savior with the kiss of faith, instead, kissing him with the kiss of betrayal.


Oh yes, he went to the priest.


And by the way, many people even today go to the priest, but there is no priest who can save you.


You can confess your sins to every priest in the country, you can confess you sins to men, but listen, the priests have to go for forgiveness just like you and I.


The priest cannot forgive sins for he too is a sinner that has to be saved by grace.


The only one that can forgive sin is the one who overcame sin, Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

What Judas wanted was religion.


What Judas wanted was respect.


He never wanted to admit, that he, a respectable man, was not really right with God.


He took the money back to the temple, he cast it before the priest, and the Bible says he went out and hanged himself.


He had a sad beginning and a sad ending.


It usually works that way, for sin for a season seems joyful.


At first it seems like a bright tomorrow, but in the end it is like a sun that has gone down.


For 2,000 years Judas has been in hell, burning, in an eternal hell, where the fire quenches not, where there are worms that torment, where the cry is for water, water, where they cry, lost, lost, but God gave me justice.


What a sad story.

What a sad story that unfolds in churches around the world today, for Sunday schools to be taught by people not born again, for deacons to be voted in who are not saved.


For pastors to serve themselves rather than the living Christ.

Let me ask you a question.


Do you know for sure your name is written in the Lambs Book of Life?


Let me tell you how you can know for sure.


1. You have to know you are a sinner.


2. You have to know there is a price to pay for sin, the wages of sin is death, and the way of the transgressor is hard.


3. You have to know you are going to hell.


4. You have to rely on Jesus Christ and what he did on the cross when he paid the price for your sins and that if you confess your sins to Christ, He will forgive you and you will be born again, a new creation of His.

A pastor was preaching one night back in a coal mining town.


He came to the invitation and there sat a man in the back of the building, a handsome young man.


He walked back to him and said, “Young man, will you give your heart to Christ."


He said, "No, I know I should, but I have got a lot of time."


The preacher replied, "But tomorrow may never come, you have no assurance, you could die before tomorrow."


He said to Preacher, "You know that makes sense."


He came to the alter and was gloriously saved.

The next day there was a terrible cave-in at the mines where he worked.


He was pinned, and feverishly they worked to get his body out.


The pastor was called, and they dug, and they dug.


Finally they found him; he was breathing his last breaths of life.


Someone put their ear right next to his lips for he could barely whisper, but he kept whispering something over and over again.


As they placed their ear right next to his lips, he said, "It is a good thing I settled it last night. It is a good thing I settled it last night."

Two twin girls where in church one night with their boyfriends, and the Spirit of God was moving greatly.


One turned to the other and said, "Let’s get right with God."


They were singing the song, Almost Persuaded.


The sister curled her lip and said, "The boys that are with us tonight will laugh at us. Awe, let’s do it some other time."


The girl wiped the tears from her eyes, and straightened up, just because of a curled lip and a remark.


The service ended, and the girls went out.

A year later the girl was in an automobile accident and wasn’t given long to live.


The doctor told the family it was just a matter of hours.


The parents went into the hospital room and asked their daughter, "Are you right with God?"


She said, "I won’t answer that."


The pastor came, and asked her, and she would not answer.


Her sister came in and asked her to get right with God but she would not answer.


She loved the old pastor and told him when he asked her to give some kind of finality for the family if she was right with God or not, that if he promised that they would not look until she died, that she had written down her answer on the back page of the Bible.


A few hours later she died and they went home and looked in the Bible, the family gathered around as the pastor read the decision out loud, "Almost, but lost."

Perhaps you are not sure of the day you asked Jesus into your heart, you might have been raised in the church and just thought you were born Christian, well today, is a day to get it right, repent of your sins and ask Jesus to be your Lord and Savior, and you can write it down in your Bible; saved and then today’s date.

Perhaps you have never been born again; you have never asked Jesus into your heart.


Don’t put it off; you have no assurance of tomorrow.

Or perhaps you once knew God, but you have gotten cold, you are like Judas.

Today is the day of salvation, now is the time to make it to the alter.

ALTER TIME                                                                                     

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