Today we look at some of the spiritual advantages Judas had as one of Jesus’ disciples. Judas had a great advantage in that he actually knew Jesus personally. It’s true today we have the Scriptures, and I wouldn’t minimize that in any respect. It is through the written Word of God that the Holy Spirit operates to convert men and women. That is God’s method, and therefore where the Word of God is preached and Jesus as he is presented in the Scriptures is unfolded before the minds and hearts of men, there the Holy Spirit works and draws men and women to him. Yet it is still a very striking thing that Judas, unlike ourselves, actually knew the Lord Jesus Christ personally in the flesh. He did not merely see him once or twice. He actually knew him. He had traveled with him. He had eaten with him, slept where Jesus had slept, and he had been with Jesus as he had ministered. There is none like Jesus in the whole history of the world, and Judas actually knew him personally and yet, as we know, betrayed him.
Not only did Judas have the advantage of having known Jesus, but he had the advantage of having heard him teach on many occasions. I sometimes think how wonderful it would have been simply to have been there in Palestine on any given occasion to have heard the Lord Jesus speak. Wouldn’t it have been wonderful to have been there beside the Sea of Galilee as he got into the boat and began to teach the people, or to have stood upon the mountain as he gave the Beatitudes, or to have been on the Mount of Olives near Jerusalem as he unfolded that great discourse that concerned the last things? I would have been happy to have heard any single thing that Jesus said. And here was this man who had traveled with him and heard all of these discourses, undoubtedly even more than we have recorded in the Bible because we have only a selection of what Jesus actually said.
Moreover, because he was there and heard them, he knew how he said them. Sometimes when I read the words of Christ and puzzle over them I find myself asking how Jesus said this? Did Jesus say this in a mild tone of voice? Beseechingly? Did Jesus say this sharply in order to make his point? Did Jesus speak some of these words in anger? What were his gestures? We don’t know. I wish we had been there. I wish I had heard him. I think what a great deal of help it would have been to understand what he really meant and what he was getting at, if only I could have heard him with my ears. Judas had that great advantage.
And then, too, Judas saw the miracles. Jesus chose his disciples early, and his disciples were present in Cana of Galilee when he changed the water into wine and the people marveled at it. There were the lepers that he cleansed. There were the lame that he made to walk. There were the blind to whom he gave sight. And then there was that great raising of Lazarus, his friend, not long before his arrest and crucifixion. This miracle happened not many days before his decision to betray Jesus. Judas saw all that, all these advantages. He knew Jesus. He heard Jesus. He saw the miracles. And yet he betrayed him.
I think also of something that should be said about Judas because this has bearing on how we look at other people, perhaps. Judas had, so far as we can tell, a credible profession of faith. When we examine people for membership that is the phrase that is often used—a credible profession of faith. It means that no human being is able to see into the heart of another human being. It’s the duty of the elders of a church to examine people and see so far as they are able to discern whether they are true believers or not. People who are not true believers are not to be admitted into membership in a church. That is a duty incumbent upon all church rulers.
But elders know very well they can’t save a heart. People can quite often process things that are not really true of them in any deeper internal sense. So we speak about a credible profession. That is, we hear the profession and as we examine people we try to determine whether what they are professing is apparently backed up by a consistent way of life. If somebody says they’re following Jesus but they are living in open and flagrant sin, well, you say that’s not a credible profession. If they say they believe Jesus is their Savior but as you examine them they don’t understand anything about who Jesus is, that is not a credible profession.
Now you ask a question: Did Judas have a credible profession? The answer obviously is, yes, he did, because so far as we can tell from the story, even though he was about to betray his master, whether out of hatred or frustration or disappointment or whatever it may have been, Judas never apparently seemed to divulge that to those who lived in the closest possible intimacy with him during these three years of the earthly ministry. Judas traveled with Peter and John and Matthew and all the others, but it was only Jesus, because Jesus was God and understood things that we can’t understand, who knew what was really in the heart of this bad man.