Lesson Twenty Three


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Memory Verse: Matthew 6:33
Further Study: Matthew 27:1-14; Mark 15:1-5; Luke 23:1-7; John 18:28-38; The Desire of Ages, pp. 716-728; The Bible Story, vol. 9, pp. 88-93

I recently read a story about a man who was the pillar of his church community. He faithfully attended church each Sunday, sat in the front row, served as an elder, and was loved and respected for his spiritual commitment. When he died, the church members were dumbfounded when a large contingent of individuals from a local group known for lewd and unusual sex acts arrived at his funeral. What the two groups discovered was that he was not only a faithful and committed church member, but also faithfully committed to this other community that met on Fridays and Saturdays. The man led a double life, and no one knew until he died.

The man led a double life, and no one knew until he died.

Studying Judas is to discover much good. He was respected by the disciples. They trusted him with their money. He participated in everything the other disciples did. He followed Jesus, listened to His teaching, watched His miracles, waited for Him as He prayed through the night. Judas would have been one of the disciples at the base of the Mount of Transfiguration. He would have walked with the disciples on the way to raise Lazarus. He would have seen the blind man healed and eaten at Zacchaeus’ house. Judas was one of 12 closest to Jesus. Yet Judas lived a double life. Outwardly he did what was asked, but inwardly he never fully committed to Jesus.

Judas knew Jesus to be the Messiah, but instead of seeking salvation, he sought favor. To hang tight with Jesus was to ensure a good place in His kingdom. While Jesus told good stories, Judas never called Him anything higher than “Rabbi.” And all those arguments among the disciples about who would be the greatest? Judas was in the middle of those as well. It was only at the end of the three years that Judas’ real character was revealed when Jesus spoke to him at Simon’s house. It was then that Judas decided to “help” Jesus fulfill His mission. 

Judas decided to “help” Jesus fulfill His mission.

What is ironic is that Judas knew Jesus so well, he really did think he was helping Him. Jesus had escaped before, so Judas never counted on Him being arrested. Jesus said He was going to die, but Judas didn’t believe Him, because Judas had seen the power Jesus had. So, while Judas followed Jesus, accepted Jesus, maybe even loved Jesus, he thought he could direct Jesus. For Judas, salvation might come through Jesus, but only with Judas’ help.

If we’re honest, we may have experienced some “Judas” in our own lives. We think we can do something better, lead differently, or accomplish things more efficiently. We go through the motions, but our hearts may not be fully where they need to be—fully committed to Jesus and His leading. What’s on the outside, needs to reflect the inside.

I stood at the head of the casket of my great-aunt as people came by. Person after person told me stories of how my aunt had changed their lives. She’d baked bread, gave them a ride, taken them to Vacation Bible School, played for church, and more. She lived a quiet life on the family farm, but people saw Jesus in her. Her outside matched her inside.

When we really belong to Jesus, that’s how it is supposed to be. And when our outside and inside match, we are renewed.

Digging Deeper 

Much is made of Judas’ end. He instigates the arrest of Jesus and when he sees that Jesus was bound and led to Pilate, he realized that Jesus was not going to stop what was happening. We then come to a critical verse: “Then Judas, His betrayer, seeing that He had been condemned, was remorseful and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, saying, ‘I have sinned by betraying innocent blood’” (Matt. 27: 3, 4).

The word translated “remorseful” in the original Greek does not mean “to repent.” To repent is to have a change of heart. The Greek word used here references a change of feeling. In other words, Judas regretted what he had done, but he was not sincerely sorry, only that the outcome was not as he had hoped. True repentance leads one to Jesus. For Judas regret led him to suicide. 


Making it Real

For Christians matching your inside to your outside isn’t as easy as it looks. Sometimes we just feel out-of-sorts, and nothing seems to make a difference. What are ways that you can think of this week when you feel less than Christian on the inside that you could do to fully belong to Jesus? For me, singing hymns can do it—simply humming a spiritual song. Can you think of others?


Merle Poirier writes from Silver Spring, Maryland, where she works as the operation manager for Adventist Review and Adventist World magazines as well as the designer for KidsView, a magazine for 8-12-year-olds. She enjoys spending time with her family including being a grandmother to two active little boys, who greatly enjoy Starting With Jesus, and a granddaughter, who’s delighting everyone with her smiles. She is blessed to have all three living close by, continually bringing joy and delight.


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