When it comes to living a life of worth and significance, the primary question for each of us isn't, "Am I committed?" It's, "What am I committed to?" I have noticed lately that there are many people in the Church body no less who are solely committed to their own welfare. However, true Christians aren't in it for themselves; they're committed to the growth and well-being of the people they are serving, and they are most especially committed to the Lord Jesus Christ.
In 1 Kings 8: 61 it is written, “Your hearts must be fully committed to the LORD our God, to live by His decrees and obey His Commands.” And these Words don’t come with any options, you and I “…must be fully committed…” there are no ifs, ands, or buts. Yet, there is a question that is begged to be asked, if we are committed, what or who are we committed to? People are committed to so many different things these days; there are some things that are worth being committed to such as your family and your career. But your commitment to Jesus Christ should be first and foremost on your list.
In our text we find Judas Iscariot who did indeed showed an outward appearance of commitment to Jesus, but an outward show of loyalty to Jesus is meaningless unless we also follow Christ in our heart. Judas Iscariot is remembered for one thing and one thing only: his betrayal of Jesus Christ. Eventhough Judas showed remorse later; his name became a symbol for traitors and turncoats throughout history. If someone calls you a ‘Judas’ they are saying in effect that you are a backstabber, you are someone who is not to be trusted. Judas had a commitment, in fact each and every one of us is committed to something, and even if it is doing nothing at all you’re still committed to doing nothing. The question I brought with me this morning is what kind of commitment do you have? I submit to you that there are at least three kinds of commitment one could have.
A Deceptive Commitment
Judas had a deceptive commitment, an example of a deceptive commitment would be like a corrupt politician being willing to commit to a certain cause only if the price was right. Judas is known by some as “the great pretender” and he is, without a doubt, the most notorious and most vilified of all the disciples. His name appears last in every list of the disciples, except in Acts 1, where his name does not appear at all. Every time he is mentioned in the Bible, the Word of God reminds us that he is a traitor who betrayed Jesus to His death, now how’s that for a legacy? Here in the text, we have Judas, the man who betrayed the Savior of the world, Judas, one the twelve apostles, a disciple, a professing follower of the Lord. There are too many people within the Church today who just like Judas. They profess Jesus Christ with their mouth, but He is nowhere in their heart.
Judas for a while was able to fool many people around that he was just as much committed to Jesus as the other disciples. When Jesus said during the Lord’s Supper while giving Judas his last chance to repent, "Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me." No one appeared to expect that the betrayer would turn out to be Judas and even when Jesus revealed there was a betrayer among them Judas continued to sin and continued to deceive by having the audacity to ask, “Surely not I, Rabbi?” thereby proving that he did not consider Jesus to be his Lord and Savior.
Judas continued to lay out his deceptive plan; he knew it would be done during the night and it would be dark and so he wondered how the temple guard would be able to recognize Jesus in the dark and keep Him from slipping out of their hands? And so he orchestrated a plan in which he’d simply walk up to Jesus and greet Him with a kiss. Note: A kiss during these times was a sign of deep commitment, this particular kiss was meant to keep him in good grace with other disciples; he must have thought that the disciples could not possibly suspect that he was actually betraying Jesus if he gave Him a kiss. Besides all this, he didn’t point his finger and say, “Here He is” he simply greeted Jesus with a kiss indicating his commitment. Which is why I call it a deceptive commitment. Do you realize just how dangerous it is to plan and plot evil and at the same time profess your commitment to Jesus Christ?
I’ve seen people in the Church plan and plot during various business meetings in order to make things go their way. And after the meeting was over they felt everything was done decently and in order and in the name of the Lord. Dr. John MacArthur in speaking of Judas said, “It is possible to be near Jesus and to associate with Him closely and still be hardened in sin.” He betrayed Jesus with a kiss, a sign we use as affection. But his deception was exposed the moment he kiss Him because Jesus asked, “…are you betraying the son of man with a kiss?” Luke (22:47–48) Jesus was not rebuking Judas; this question was designed to try and make Judas think about what he was about to do. He was still trying to give Judas at least one more chance before committing this grievous act and be labeled the man who betrayed the Savior of the world for all eternity.
When I think of this event and when I think of Jesus’ response to Judas’ kiss as it applies to us today it actually boils down to this, do we really love God, or do we just love the things that he does for us? What happens to your relationship with God when He isn't giving you the things you think you need in order to be happy? Judas thought that 30 pieces of silver would make him happy and so he had the bright idea to trade in Jesus to get his hands on the money. Judas was committed to self-advancement; he was committed to being financially secured at the expense of the life of Jesus Christ.
Remember earlier it was Judas who volunteered to hold the purse as he traveled with Jesus and the other disciples, an old preacher used to tell me to be leery of anyone who volunteers to hold the purse (work in the finance room) it is much better to appoint someone, because you just might end up with another Judas, one whose god is money. Yes, Judas was committed but his commitment was not to Jesus Christ.
A Carnal Commitment
In the text, Judas exhibits a deceptive commitment, but as we read v. 51, we see that Peter exhibits yet another type of commitment, a carnal commitment. The carnal Christian is a stagnant Christian, carnal Christians are fleshly-minded Christians. Such people live only to please themselves-forget about serving or submitting to Christ. They are controlled by the old person they used to be instead of the new person they have become. They know all the jargon and have memorized all the lyrics. They quote Scripture to fit their need for the moment, not really knowing exactly what the particular Scripture actually means.
They wear holy clothes and spiritual cologne, but only to disguise the truth. The carnal Christian is a rebellious Christian, they refuse to accept all of God’s Word because they really don’t want to surrender everything to Him—there are a few things from their former life they just don’t want to give up no matter what. The word for worldly means “fleshy” or “carnal.” It is the Greek word sarkinos, which denotes nature, substance or constitution and speaks of being made of flesh. It carries the idea of fleshy and connotes a weakness toward sin.
The word “fleshy” (carnal) is made equivalent with babes. The early Christians were called carnal (fleshy) because they were babes in Christ who had never grown up into spiritual maturity. We can say that they were carnal-babes. It is normal to be a carnal-babe, and all Christians have been (to include Peter), or are, in this state, but it is not normal to stay in this state. There is a time to grow up, but until then the carnal Christian lives according to the flesh.
Peter in reaching for his sword and cutting the ear off of the servant of the High Priest (Malchus), he was acting within his carnality at the moment. For example, when we who are Christian or claim Christianity curse out the driver who just pulled in front of us all of the sudden while on the freeway we are acting within our carnality. It is a sure indicator that we still have some growing to do. He caused Jesus to perform yet another miracle even while being arrested by the temple guards. Jesus became an Otolaryngologist (ear doctor) in a split second and restored the ear of Malchus. Here Peter was indeed saved, but he was yet to be fully converted.
Jesus rebuked Peter and his carnal commitment, He said, “Put your sword back in its place” in other words, that’s not how a Christian should act. I remember a scene in one of my all-time favorite television comedies, “Sanford and Son” when Aunt Esther would shout hallelujah and glory one moment and in the next moment you see her swinging her over-sized purse in anger at Fred Sanford calling his him an “Ol fish-eyed fool”, she was the perfect example of how a carnal Christian sometimes behaves. A double minded person often forgets that the divine nature can overpower the carnal nature inherited from the fall. As a result it gets turned around and oops you’re right back in sin again. No place for a child of God to be!
Jesus told Peter that “for all who draw the sword will die by the sword” yes, Peter to his credit took a stand for Christ but the reason he failed is because he took a stand for Christ while in the flesh. Peter thought in an earthly manner, he misunderstood the Words of Jesus. He neglected to wait for Jesus’ instructions, and he did not think clearly he just acted upon impulse. His action that day could have easily thwarted God’s plan and will. By cutting off the soldier’s ear he could have created more violence, and caused more unnecessary deaths—Jesus and everyone with Him could have been killed that very moment. Jesus wanted Peter to know that God’s people are to proclaim love and peace, not war and violence. Jesus wanted Peter to know that weapons we use are not physical or carnal but rather they are entirely spiritual.
A Purposeful Commitment
If we are to be committed, it should be a purposeful commitment that we have. What I mean is, commitment is never haphazard, impulsive, or random. Eventhough we may lose our perspective from time to time, commitment always involves intent—not an evil intent, not a worldly intent, but intent of a godly nature. Look at Jesus’ commitment if you will, Jesus could have easily saved Himself. All he had to do is say the Word (pray) and seventy-two thousand angels (all He needed was one) would have came to His defense. He really didn’t need Peter to physically fight for Him, but you see Peter had not fully come to the realization that Jesus was God’s Son, His only Son, and it was God who should decide how His Son would be defended or not, the onus was not upon Peter.
Jesus knew the Scriptures, and He knew that it was His task to fulfill the Scriptures. The Scriptures said that He had to die, and He thus had a purposeful commitment to die for you and I. If there were no crucifixion, and no resurrection we would all be destined for a life in hell and so Jesus purposely committed Himself to the cross for our sake. And without either a cross or an empty tomb, we would have nothing but an inspiring story of a wonderful man who lived an exemplary life. I’m so glad that Jesus had a purposeful commitment.
What if Jesus did not honor His commitment? What if He decided to not be crucified on Calvary’s cross? What if He looked into the future and seen just how ungrateful man and woman had become? What if He seen how here in the year 2013 we are still arguing and debating over things that God has already established in His Word and said, ‘it’s not worth it, they’re not worth it? What if Jesus decided that we were just not worth it to die for? What if He decided that our salvation was just not worth the commitment? When He looked in the cup that day, what did He see? I wonder did He see you and I debating about whether or not we will trust Him and have faith in Him? In 1 Corinthians 15:12-19, the Apostle Paul wrote his own abbreviated version of "What if Jesus had not risen from the grave?" Paul did us a great favor and identified seven consequences for us if Jesus' body were decomposing in a grave somewhere:
He said, 1). Preaching is without foundation. 2.) And so is your faith. 3.) We are false witnesses about God, claiming that He did what He did not. 4.) Your faith is worthless. 5.) You are still in your sins. 6.) All who have "died in Christ" are really dead. 7.) And lastly, we are to be pitied. However, Jesus Christ did go to the cross, and the news is all good. Christ is our perfect example of what purposeful commitment really means it is the kind, the only kind of commitment that God wants from us. It is a commitment to die daily for Jesus Christ and His cause. Are you fully committed to Jesus today? If not you should be, and now is the time, here’s one of many reasons why.
The devil can't defeat you if you'll stay close to Jesus. With Jesus you'll walk through all your storms. The devil is a strategist. If he can cut you off from your closeness to Jesus he will get you. Stay committed to Christ and His church. We're in a dangerous hour right now the country is debating about attacking a foreign land who has powerful allies, now is the time to commit your life to Jesus Christ!!! Jesus said many will leave and give time to strange doctrine in this last hour. Just look around you, this very thing is happening right now! Be committed! Know why you’re committed, when He died and rose again it was because He was purposefully committed to you and your salvation. Amen.