Pastor Greg Laurie of the Harvest megachurch in California spoke to his congregation Sunday about the possibility of being so close, yet so far from God, using the example of Judas Iscariot, who willfully betrayed Jesus despite spending three years with Him.
Judas Iscariot is one of the most misunderstood people in the Bible, Laurie said as he began his message, titled “So Close, Yet So Far: Surprising Story of Judas Iscariot,” part of the “God Came Near” series.
Some wonder if Judas was not really an evil man as he “helped” Jesus fulfil His mission or thinking that God hardened his heart, the pastor told the congregation.
“Judas acted on his own volition. … He went out of his way to betray Jesus,” Laurie said.
Before going further into Judas’ act of betrayal, the pastor explained why Jesus came to Earth.
Jesus came to give us life in its fullest measure, as John 10:10 says, Laurie noted. “Jesus came to seek us, save us and bring us into a right relationship with the Father,” he added, referring to 1 Timothy 1:15.
Jesus came to die for us, Laurie went on to say, quoting Hebrews 9:26. “The crucifixion was not an unexpected turn of events.” And Jesus came to break Satan’s power in people’s lives, as 1 John 3:8 says.
Coming back to the story of Judas Iscariot, Laurie said his very name suggests evil, “and we use it as a picture of something negative.”
Judas was perhaps the most wicked man who ever lived on Earth, he added. “Judas wanted to betray Jesus. Judas did it for money. Judas initiated it.”
Strangely, in the death of Jesus, both God and Satan were moving in the same direction, the pastor said. “Satan wanted Jesus humiliated, tortured, beaten and most of all, stopped. The father wanted Jesus sacrificed, atoning and risen.”
Judas “was not a passive tool of providence; he made his choice and his choice made him,” the pastor stated. It is true that Satan put the thought in Judas’ mind, but he also found a willing accomplice in Judas, he explained.
Judas could have resisted that temptation, as he had spent three years with God in human form, Laurie added.
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SOURCE: The Christian Post